First-year head coaches Jason Kidd of the Brooklyn Nets and Dave Joerger of the Memphis Grizzlies were named NBA Coaches of the Month for their respective teams’ performances in January.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reported the news via Twitter:
This is a huge shift in momentum for Coach Kidd because he was firmly planted on the NBA coaching hot seat through December as his Nets compiled a disappointing 10-21 record.
In January, however, Brooklyn posted a 10-3 mark with huge wins over the Miami Heat (in overtime), Oklahoma City Thunder (on the road), Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks (whom they beat twice).
At the end of the month, the Nets climbed back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a 20-24 record overall.
Joerger’s Grizzlies, meanwhile, were scorching hot in the Western Conference. They went 12-3 in January, beating the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets two times each—and they sprinkled in a statement win over the Thunder for good measure.
Getting last season’s Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol back in the lineup Jan. 14 has helped a great deal, as Memphis is 9-1 overall since the big man’s return.
Following a gritty 82-77 road win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 15, Joerger said, "A couple of weeks ago we don't pull this game out. I'm proud of the growth that we've made. That's a happy locker room," per the Associated Press (via ESPN).
After a torrid month, the Grizz hold the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
It’s been quite a year for first-year head coaches, as Jeff Hornacek of the Suns was named Coach of the Month for December.
Injuries have held the Grizzlies and Nets back in 2013-14, but both squads are finally hitting their stride.