Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Magic Number is 10

No, I'm not talking about wins (altho, even at this late date, the Nets have only 10 wins) or the number of players involved in the Quixotic and fictive Carmelo Anthony trade.

I'm talking points. Specifically, the number of points when you call a time out.

With 10 minutes (sic) remaining in the game, the Nets are leading 90-75, a 15 point lead. Good teams make plays, bad teams make mistakes, but even a bad quarter would still result in a win.

Unless you mismanage it, of course.

My biggest gripe about Frank was that he had no idea how to use time outs judiciously. It seemed I never wondered about the timing of an opponent's coach's use of time outs, and always wondered about Frank's. His timeout calls were frankly (sic, or not) tone deaf to the game.

AJ is better; I haven't questioned his time out calls, until tonite.

I don't get why Nets coaches don't know what virtually every other NBA coach of note does - don't let your double digit lead dwindle to single digits without doing something about it. The time to call a time out is when your lead is 10 or more, NOT when it is less than 10.

A 15 point lead can duck under 10 with 3 buckets in a row, or two threes. Either string will wake up a team, but not give them hope. Hope comes when the opponent chops a double digit lead to single digits. Every announcer on the planet, every fan in the stands, every coach in history, every player on the floor, will say, Now it's a game...

Phoenix cuts the lead to 10, 92-82. They are starting to get into it. AJ calls time out. Sets up a play. The Nets score. 94-82. Run over. Hope fades.

But no. AJ does NOT call a timeout. AJ "let's them play". Who is he letting play?

The Phoenix Suns, is who.

With poetic justice, former Net-for-life Vince Carter drains a 3. It's now 92-85 with more than a half a quarter left. NOW AJ calls time. NOW the house is rockin'. NOW the Suns are pumped.

It's more than a 5 point swing. It's a game swing. The Nets somehow force overtime, after trailing for most of the last 2 mins. Even after taking a brief OT lead, they wind up losing. That 3 was the only points they score in OT.

YOU CAN'T CONSERVE YOUR TIME OUTS FOR LATE IN THE GAME. If you use them judiciously, YOU WON'T NEED THEM. If you conserve them, barring a miracle, their only effect will be to draw out the humiliation of your team as they watch a winnable - a won! - game dribble down the drain.

Instead, he lets the Suns back in, lets his team take their feet of the Suns' throat. Yet again, for the 100th time, the Nets lose the first game on a difficult Western swing in OT, due solely to poor coaching.

It amazes me how so many obviously flawed coaches are allowed to malpractice in the pros of every sport. A coach needs not only to have a great work ethic for preparation, not only has to know his players and their strengths and limitations, not only has to be a viable strategist but HAS TO KNOW HOW TO MANAGE SITUATIONS IN-GAME.

AJ failed that test miserably tonite.

Nets lose in OT by 9. By NINE.

All because the jerk on the bench doesn't understand when to call a lousy time out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Last Two Minutes of Every Period

As is known, I have been watching this team for decades. I am also a Jets fan, and if there's one epithet that Jets fans are known for - other than Fireman Ed's J-E-T-S cheer - it's "same old Jets".

What that epithet describes is the truth everybody but Jets coaches seem to grasp: Their team has a persona, a way of losing, letting go of the rope, doing it the same way year after year after year, regardless the players, the coaches, even the owners.

Most of the current Jets have only been on the team a few years, but even they fear the "same old Jets" call. Even if they have themselves never experienced the collapses - of the same type - of years past, they are well aware of them. This makes them tighter than they normally would be, irrespective of their past experiences.

Coaches minimize personae. I don't know why. One would think that they'd be conscious of it - especially Jets coaches.

Especially Nets coaches...

Tonite the Nets lost in triple overtime, 123-120. They had, in the first two overtimes, innumerable chances to win. Yet they lost.

And how did they lose?

Well, to hear AJ talk about it, it has to do with youth and inexperience.


Cynics might say, Good teams make plays, bad teams make mistakes. And that is true.

But it's more than that.

The Nets have this persona - they lose almost every period in the last 2 minutes.

The lose in the last 2 minutes of almost every period.

Consider tonite's game.

Here are the results of all 7 periods in the last two minutes:

1. +2
2. Even
3. -1
4. +1
5. -4
6. +1
7. -2

This comes to a net (sic) -3. How much did they lose by? 3.

I do not carefully keep stats. For my own mental health, I don't watch every single game (altho this year I may have).

After a good start, where the Nets in fact did start winning these all important segments of games, they are falling back to their old persona.

NOTE TO COACH JOHNSON: If you want a simple, effective way to improve this team - FOCUS ON TEACHING THEM HOW TO PLAY THE LAST 2 MINUTES OF A PERIOD.

Example: In the first OT, if they win the last 2 minutes of JUST THAT PERIOD, they win. If they break even, they win!

The Nets play tight in the last 2 minutes of nearly every period. Every single one. Do you want your young team to develop confidence? TEACH THEM HOW TO MANAGE THE LAST 2 MINUTES.

For example...




These are basic things. A young team starts winning those mini-periods, they gain confidence, even if they lose, because they prove they can come back. And they will WIN some of those game, anyway.


Years later...

So here we are, Game 19, in the year of our lord 2010...

I sat out (with respect to this blog) the 2008-9 season and, most especially, the phenomenon that was 2009-2010.

I confess - I could not watch many games last year, it was that bad. The highlight, such as it was, was Frank FINALLY getting fired. There was a website,, that some other fan had put up in the 2008-9 season. I was relieved it went up, contributed a little, let things ride. Once the marionette was finally canned, the site was taken down. The Nets, of course - with the worst owner in the history of the NBA - typically put in a total buffoon to replace him - Kiki Vanderweghe, with a total of ZERO games coached in the NBA, ZERO in college, ZERO at any traceable level (maybe he was a rec coach... once...).

The result? Well, you know the result...

New year, new owner, new arena, new coach.

The arena upgrade is a slam dunk, and long in coming. Even if the Nets go to Bklyn two seasons from now, it was just good to get our of the Meadowlands.

And ANY owner would have been an upgrade from Ratner, who never intended to be a team owner anyway. Nice that this new guy has bucks, however obtained originally.

That brings us to Avery. I was not wild about this choice, despite his background. But again, ANY coach would have been an upgrade.

After a handful of games, I thought, hey, know what? I DON'T EVEN NOTICE WHEN HE'S CALLING TIME OUTS! That's because he takes them in normal situations. What a concept!

And altho there've been several close games, most of which they've lost, Johnson does not force his team to suffer thru the humiliation of Frank's never successful foul, foul, foul excruciating drawing out of an endgame. Good!

And he called out players, particularly Lopez. Good good!

But now he's showing the classic flaw of mediocre coaches, no matter what sport - He does not take seriously the persona of the franchise.

More next entry...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Game 82 - It is finished...

Nets lose to the Cs on the road. Not on TV (at least not Verizon, that I can tell). It was sorta kinda close, in a schoolyard kinda way. The Cs are the #1 Eastern seed. The Nets are going home.

Are the Celtics 32 games better than the Nets?

I wonder - Pierce has won 0 titles, Ray 0, KG 0. I'm not convinced that they can even win the East, much less the title. Then again, if this is the street ball league, who's gonna stop them?

It's funny - we talk NFL, we think coaches - Parcells, Bellichick, Landry, Lombardi... We talk baseball, we think managers - Lasorda, Pinella, Torre, Sparky... We talk hockey - Bowman, Arbour...

We talk NBA and the only coach we talk about is Phil, and maybe Pop, but mostly we talk talent. And not smart talent, not fundamentally sound talent - not, say, Steve Nash - but raw talent. Shaq. Kobe. Lebron.

Not that Shaq, Kobe or Lebron CAN'T be fundamentally sound, they certainly can. We see flashes. But mostly we see flashy.

Can the talent in the NBA be coached? Is the Lakers' success this year all about Pau Gasol?

In 1967 the 76ers got a new coach, Alex Hannum. He took his best player, one Wilt Chamberlain, aside and told him, look - you have all the records in the book. You've done amazing, gargantuan things. Yet you lack a championship ring. I have an idea that if, when the ball comes to you, instead of fighting off the double- and triple teams they throw up against you and shooting, you find the open man, or men!, they'll have easy shots, undefended shots, and we'll be unstoppable.

That's coaching. Imagine telling the league's greatest offensive player to stop scoring and start making assists. What was he, nuts?

Funny thing - Wilt listened. He led the team in assists and was 3rd in the NBA (a center!). The Sixers won 69 games and, most importantly, won the NBA - the only team to break the Celtics' stranglehold on the NBA championship in the 60s.

Tim Duncan is a great and heady player, and fundamentally sound. But I also have to think that he listens to Greg. And by listening to Greg, he sets the example, and then the rest of the team listens to Greg. The result? 4 championships.

I like watching San Antonio like I liked watching the Nets from 2002 thru 2006. Now we seem to have a street ball team.

I'm not interested in circus shots and flashy dunks. Championships are not garnered with circus shots and flashy dunks. A circus shot or a flashy dunk is worth no more points on the scoreboard than a dorky but fundamentally sound lay up.

I like people getting open. I like defense. I like boxing out. I like looking for the open man.

The basketball season for the Nets ended on that disastrous 0-9 stretch in January. Since then it's been street ball.

I don't like street ball.

If that's what the Nets have become, they've lost a season ticket holder.

Game 81 - Street Ball

Perhaps this is what bothers me about the contemporary NBA. I have railed pretty much all season against the poor quality in-game coaching of one Lawrence Frank. He has made strategic blunder after tactical blunder, he's tone deaf to his team's struggles and mechanistic in his substitution patterns.

Nonetheless, I watched tonite's game in amazement. Nets up early, go to sleep, down nearly 20 at the half, come back to take a late lead, make bonehead decisions, wind up going into overtime, go up by 8 within a minute left, win by 4.

Through it all, NEITHER coach has any impact on the game. Granted, both teams are done for the year, what incentive do they have. So it becomes a schoolyard game.

I was reading about Golden State's latest loss, something like coming back from down 16 to take a 15 point lead, and then losing. And I am struck - I don't remember this happening in the 60s, or the Magic/Bird/Dr J era, or even the Jordan era. I remember close games involving, at least, playoff teams, 2 point, 4 point, 6 point leads going back and forth. I remember good passing, even on breaks, boxing out, and above all, defense.

Not always. The mid-70s were fairly run and gun, as the ABA players and style were digested into the league. I remember strategy. I remember intelligent play - Oscar, Bradley, Lucas, West, Kareem, Russell, McHale, the Chief, etc.

I remember Kidd, as well, when he came here in 2002. It was a pleasure to watch because he imposed on the team a disciplined style of smart play. Maybe it was Eddie Jordan's Princeton like offense, on steroids with the athleticism of KMart, Kittles and RJ. It featured a lot of running, sure. But it was heady. With defense.

You see this now from one team - San Antonio. Is it the coach? Is it Duncan? Is it luck?

It ain't luck.

It's a commitment to fundamental basketball within the framework of today's incredible athletic talent.

Today's talent is clearly superior to any other era. I don't think that's debatable. Unfortunately, the NBA has become, as I have noted earlier, the Nothing But Ability league. No defense. No strategy. No in-game tactical soundness. Ability.

Brilliant moves, flashy dunks, great looking alley oops, incredible shots.

But for every flashy dunk is a missed foul shot, for every great looking alley oop is a bad decision, for every incredible shot is an "ill-advised" shot. I put that in quotes since I hear it most from Walt Frazier.

Walt Frazier... I was not a Knicks fan then - I was a Lakers fan. I couldn't stand him, as an opponent. But you had to respect his play - his intelligent play.

Frazier probably wouldn't have the size or talent to play in today's NBA. This is an amazing thing. Because Clyde could make nearly every current team a contender. Through sheer intelligence.

I digress (boy, do I digress)...

The point is, who listens to coaches today, anyway? Again, I can think of only one team, and it's the same one.

Frank had nothing to do with this victory, and would have had nothing to do with a loss, either. This was a street ball game.

Where's the Professor?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wanting the Team to Lose

A reader wondered aloud why any fan would purposely want their team to lose. I want to address that. Consider this cautionary tale:

From 1984-1989 the San Antonio Spurs had been quite like the Nets - a bad team that occasionally made the playoffs, only to be bounced out in the first round. (They actually made the playoffs with losing records twice, once with only 31 wins, the other with 35 - the latter after having made it at 41-41. sound familiar?)

After an abysmal 21 win season in 89, they got David Robinson in the draft, and immediately became contenders. Over the next 7 seasons they won 56, 55, 47, 49, 55, 62 and 59 games. Altho they made it to the Western Conference finals in 95, they never made it to the Finals. Then the Admiral got injured, out for the 97 season.

Had he not been injured, the Spurs very likely would have won at least 50 games in 97, probably 55, their average with him the previous 7 seasons. Still, without him they probably could have won at least 30 or 35. They were not that bad of a team.

Instead they went into the tank. A deep funk that cost their coach, Bob Hill, who had taken them to their only Western Conference Finals appearance, his job, even tho he did not have his star player for all but 6 games of the year.

This abysmal losing, this embarrassment of an underachieving team, gave the Spurs the first pick in the draft. They got one Tim Duncan. And Greg Popovich.

Since then the Spurs continued their regular season winning ways - winning high 50s or low 60s games a season (except for the strike shortened 99 season, when they won a league high 37 games. And winning 4 NBA titles.

How did the Celtics get Larry Bird? Going 29-53. That's how.

Now, if you were a Spurs fan on the eve of Game 77, in 1997, with your team at 20-57, and you had a crystal ball that showed the glory to come with Pop and Tim, but in order to get Tim you'd need to lose your last six, would you be rooting for your team to lose?

Or better - if you were 3-15 on the eve of Game 19, and your coach, who had just lead your to 62 and 59 wins, your first trip to the Conference finals, and probably more shots at it once the Admiral was healed, was to be fired, would you think that was high handed and unnecessary? Now, suppose you had that crystal ball and it said, look, there is a coach out there who will lead you to 4 titles in the next decade, but you have to flush the most successful coach you've ever had, even tho he's struggling this year in the absence of your best player, would you still think it was high handed and unnecessary?

Tuesday is the last home game of the season. I am going, bringing the family and I also have two other tickets. They're playing the Bobcats. They should win easily. I want them to win easily. I want to have fun.

I got these tickets, my first full season tickets for any sport, for a song this year. The same deal is available for next year. If they were still in playoff mode, it would be a slam dunk. If they had poor talent, I still would probably do it.

Right now, I am probably not gonna do it. And for one reason. The head coach, Lawrence Frank.

I'm sorry, but altho I don't like losing, I really hate it when games are lost unnecessarily. I get aggravated when I and most other fans in the stands are screaming for timeouts that never get called, timeouts that do get called when they are irrelevant or even counter productive. I get upset and angry when talented players that could help the team like Sean Williams sit on the bench and clear duds like Trenton Hassell get non-trivial playing time. In crucial situations. And then don't come thru.

My family has told me several times they don't like going to the games with me. I brood. I scowl. They are like I used to be - they cheer the team on, they try to give the team support late in games. They, to their credit, rarely want to leave early.

But they are sick of me and my negative attitude.

Know what? I'M sick of me and my negative attitude.

I don't want to be that way. Perhaps if the Nets decided to unload RJ and let Nenad go via free agency, perhaps if Devin Harris went down with an injury in the summer, or Josh Boone had to get a knee job that required him to miss the season, you know, the things that happened in 99 and 2000, my expectations would be set low, and Frank's stupidity wouldn't bother me. Perhaps his clutching onto timeouts like Gollum does the ring might actually come in handy on those rare nights when the Nets find themselves in the game with 2 minutes to go and needing a rare victory. Perhaps then.

This isn't fantasy. I remember the year 2000 when (I counted) 20 games came down to the last 2 minutes with them in the lead or down by 2 or less and they lost. That was hard to take. But the Nets were decimated with injuries. I had no expectations for the team to win more than the 31 they did win. They had a guy who never should have been coach. The owners pushed him into it. He left the NBA for good after that season. Marbury showed great heart in trying to lift that team single handedly.

I hated the losing but I wasn't negative. I wasn't, oh brother, here they go again. Or rather, here HE goes again.

This wasn't 20 years ago when the Nets had no talent, when they had traded away a potential Hall of Famer for a sure fire Hall of Shamer. This wasn't the days of the empty RAC. This wasn't the days of the Butch Beard embarrassment or the screaming John C. This was less than a decade ago. I was positive.

As recently as 2006 I had been positive. I laid the blame for their collapse to the eventual NBA Champion Heat at Cliff Robinson's doorstep. The Nets had nearly swept the Heat in the regular season, but nearly got swept out of the postseason by them. The Heat had a hot hand. They had Shaq. They had a hot Duane Wade playing way over his head, a game he had not evinced since. Okay. Retool and try again in 2007.

At the beginning of the 2007 season I told the guy who eventually sold me season tix this year that I "had a good feeling" about the upcoming season. But by mid-season I was getting disturbed by an unsettling trend. The Nets were losing a lot of games due to questionable coaching decisions.

In 2003 when the Nets cruised to the Finals and were about to face the Spurs, I was jubilant. For the first time in their NBA history they had a great shot at winning it all. The 2002 season had been miraculous, but they did not match up well with the Lakers. I had little expectation that they could win. But in 2003 it seem that things were set up for them.

In my opinion, then and now, Byron Scott single handedly squandered that chance for them. With bafflingly abysmal coaching decisions.

A team plays well. It's a close game. Your best player has the ball in his hands to take the last shot but misses, and you lose by 1. That's basketball.

A team comes out for the championship game and is just cold as Iceland. They lose in a romp. That's basketball.

At the end of a close game that can go either way, a player tries to call a timeout when you have none left, the other team gets a technical and the ball, and you lose. That's basketball.

A team is in the finals, Game 7, on the road, and a player who has been doing it all season for you goes unbelievably cold. Time and again he takes shots and misses while the other team capitalizes. You lose the championship. The coach says, He's done it for us all year - I wasn't about to take it out of his hands this late in the season. It was his to win or lose. We win or lose with him. Ok, maybe. That one hurts and is questionable, but at least he leaves it up to the guy who brought them there. That's basketball.

But a coach that allows big leads to be squandered while his team is clearly floundering, a coach who clutches onto his timeouts so that he can have them at the end of the game when it is too late and using them only humiliates the team further, a coach that sits a red hot player when you have a 9 point lead going into the last quarter of a Game Six after having defaulted on at least 2 earlier games by not playing your only 7 footer against a team with 2 talented ones, those are not basketball inevitabilites - they are reversible, avoidable bad decisions. Unforgivable mental coaching errors. Stubbornness. Unwillingness to coach the game in front of their eyes. Those coaches are not basketball coaches. They are liabilities.

The Nets lost 30 games this year when they had considerable leads deep in the game. 30. And in those 30, Lawrence Frank acted in ways that virtually ensured those would be losses. He did NOTHING to stop them. In fact, he did everything to make the inevitable. And if that were not bad enough, forced his team to play foul ball, doing nothing but elongating the sting and increasing the humiliation.

He did a similar thing last year, before the trading deadline. The team had struggled in the beginning when finally they got to 20-20 before going on the road for a West Coast swing. The history of the team on those swings, even in the glory years of 2002 and 2003, had not been good. Yet there they were, with the lead with under a minute, 3 games in a row. They lost all 3.

I'm sorry, you can't tell me the coach was not involved in those losses. He was. All 3.

Kidd had seen enough. He wanted out. Thorn could not pull the trigger on a deal. After the trading deadline Kidd willed the team to the playoffs. Ok, one bad.

But here we were again, for the 4th consecutive season, a surprisingly bad start, a team "searching for an identity". A good coach establishes an identity. A team does not have to search for one.

Especially a team loaded with talent.

I began to see, in that dismal 2007 season, that Frank was costing the team several victories. Despite that, their talent dispatched the overrated Raptors with some ease and had a shot at making it past the vastly overrated Cavs to reach at least the Conference Finals. Talent did that. But Frank undermined it. They bowed out in 6, with two of those 4 losses easily avoidable and winnable. They should have won that series in 6, not lose it in 6.

Perhaps they could come together again with a healthy Krstic and a new season. But the 2008 season began just as the previous 3 - a surprisingly bad start, and this time against poor struggling teams at home. Once again, the talk was about searching for an identity. 30 games into the season, still searching for an identity.

Mark my words - if Frank stays, as he is likely to do, the Nets will start the year just as they have the past 4, unaccountably struggling against teams with lesser talent, losing in blowouts to good teams. Someone, probably RJ if he is not traded, will say "We're still trying to discover our identity as a team".

A pattern has been established, and by then, what would the only common denominator be?

Not JKidd. Not Vince Carter. Not RJ (remember, he was injured most of 2005 after picking up the slack for the injured JKidd at the beginning of 2005).

The common denomiator is Lawrence Frank.

This is not just statistical. If you watch all the games, like I do, it's easy to see the patterns. The announcers see all the games as well, and altho they are trained and compensated not to call out players and coaches, you could hear the mystification about why certain players are sitting, why timeouts were not called, why the team should not have an identity deep into the season.

Players make mistakes. In the heat of the battle, physical mistakes are made. Occassionally mental mistakes are made. If mental mistakes are made with frequency the coach is very quick to sit the player. That's basketball.

Coaches make mistakes, but none of them are physical. They are all mental. Sure, sometimes you gotta roll the dice and things don't pan out. Sometimes you make errors in judgement and you deal with the consequences.

But when mental mistakes are made not just with frequency but in a predictable pattern, that coach needs to sit.

This coach needs to sit. He is not helping the team; he's hurting it. In the standings, in the locker room, in the handling of its talent, in its prospects. He is not learning from his mistakes. He is not helping his players learn, because he himself does not learn.

I know the realities - I've written about them at length. The owner does not care. The president cannot act on his own. The coach has 2 more years on his contract and the owner doesn't want to pay him for nothing. His grandiose development scheme, of which the team is just a pawn, is floundering, and he is in no mood for basketball, except to get them in that goddam arena in the hope that that might put things back over the top. The last thing he wants to do in that atmosphere is part with money and get nothing in return.

But having a hamstrung team be deconstructed and embarrassed in an empty building is not something. Losing $30 million a year (per the NYT) is getting less than nothing.

There is talent here. A starting five of Carter, RJ, Harris, Boone and a healthy Nenad, with Boki, Swift, Sean Williams and Marcus Williams in the wings is quite a good and deep team. With decent, not great, but decent, coaching, this is a 50 win team, especially in a weak East. That might fill the building more. That will get you to the playoffs. If nothing else, that will make the team much more attractive when you sell the team in 3 years, 2 if your project collapses.

That is, you eat $5 million but lose only $20 a year. That's a net (sic) savings of $5 million.

I don't get Sean Williams sitting. I don't get Trent Hassell playing. And I don't get Thorn thinking that Frank is a good coach. All I do get is that the owner doesn't give a Ratner's ass about basketball. He cares about real estate development.

So Bruce - look, man, your project is dangling by a thread. You're losing $30 mil a year. You can save conservatively $5 mil of that just by doing the right thing - lose the coach.

I don't want the Nets to lose, per se. I want them to lose the coach. Losing might give them a better draft status, but if Frank remains that talent will just be squandered, wasted. However, if losing meaningless games at the end of a mean season results in losing a losing coach and giving a talented team a better shot at winning, who wouldn't want that?

Game 80 - Seven

The Nets beat the even more pathetic and shorthanded Bucks tonight, 111-98. In a way, it's a pity - perhaps if the Nets had completely let go of the rope for the season, Thorn might be convinced to "go in another direction" with respect to the coach.

He continued his baffling exile of Sean Williams, a player who could really help out the team, in favor of Trent Hassell, a player who cannot and does not. SWill was the only non-phantom (Van Horn) non-injured (Boone) player not to get out on the court despite the obvious blow out last night in Toronto. He played exactly 1 minute in a game in Cleveland where his presence, energy and shot blocking might have made up for Frank's bonehead coaching. Last night he was again the only non-injured, non-phantom player not to play, even when Frank emptied the bench at the end. I think it's safe to say that one of those two will not be here next year. Regrettably, the Nets will probably keep Frank and flush Williams, one of the very, very few bright spots in this Franked up season.

Nonetheless, Frank gets props for the Rule of Seven - If your team has a double digit lead, and it gets cut to 7, call time out. Stop the bleeding. Stop the momentum. Set up a play. End their hope.

Imagine if he had done that vs Cleveland... Or over 20 other games in this travesty of a season...

After a close first half they had built up a 15 point lead with 10 to go in the 4th. But by 8:27 it was down to 89-80. Marcus (I'm the One Who Gets to Play) Williams took an ill-advised 3 pointer (which, btw, the Nets do a lot when they are losing leads - instead of slowing the game down and working it in, looking for a high percentage shot, they seem to want the heroic dagger, which nearly never comes - a mark of a poorly coached team), the Bucks get the rebound. I'm saying to the TV, Call timeout. Call timeout.... The Bucks score. Lead down to 7 with just under 8 to play. Call timeout. Call timeout!

Devin Harris brings the ball up. Call timeout! CALL TIMEOUT!

Then what to my wondering eyes does appear but a TIMEOUT on the court of the tiny reindeer!

Good. That's the right thing to do.

And it was the right thing to do. The Nets set up a play. Get RJ an open rhythm jumper. 9 point lead, momentum broken. Back and forth a little 7-9, 7-10, 7-8, but before you know it 3 minutes have been burned off the clock. When the Nets go up by 13 at the 5 minute mark, everyone knows that this game is over.

It wasn't that the Bucks had run out of gas trying to catch up, as the coach's excuse goes - it's just that Frank didn't give them the gasoline can as he has so frequently this season. His team had amassed a good sized lead fairly late in the game and then started to struggle. Okay, so PRESERVE AS MUCH OF IT AS YOU CAN without calling an unnecessary time out. The best last place to do that is the 7 point mark. (Nine is better, but seven is the limit.)

This is not a secret or a big discovery on my part. Most coaches have a feel for this. That's why you don't notice them coaching.

You notice brain boy coaching because of his incredible tone deafness to this obvious fact as he clutches his timeouts for that magical last minute so he can demoralize his team even more. (How many games did we see this year when he did just that? 30? See below!)

But tonite he calls a timeout immediately when the lead shrinks to 7 and winds up winning a laugher. On the road.

He could have won 10 more games like this this year, very conservatively. A 10 victory swing and the Nets are 43-37 and the 4 seed in the East. Very conservatively. If he won half of those games where his stunningly stupid coaching did not come into play they are 48-32, with two shots at winning 50. That's how much Frank has cost this team this year.

He is responsible for at least 10-15 losses with poor in game coaching. He -not a disaffected Kidd (and exactly why was he disaffected?), nor an injured Carter, nor a disappearing Jefferson, nor a major trade - is the reason the Nets will finish with their worst record since 2001. He is.

He came in with a 14 game winning streak. After that his record is 176-176. And that's with The Big Three. And that's with a 49 win season, ie, a +16 win season in the middle.

The Nets have a talented roster, with potentially a deep bench, minus Hassell and plus Sean Williams. Even without Kidd this is at least a 47-55 win team. They are 25th in the league in offense, 23rd in defense.

He should be gone after this season. He brings nothing.

Rod Thorn knows that. The question is, does Bruce Ratner know?

And does he even care?