Rematch with the Toronto Raptors, whom the Nets vanquished in the first round. Despite nice talent and improvement, there is no way the Raptors were better than the Nets last year. The Nets just decided .500 ball was fine, altho they had to put together their second end of season scramble in three years to make the playoffs...
First quarter, ok. 4 point lead.
Second quarter, Toronto comes out and scores the first 10 points of the quarter before it dawns on the redoubtable Lawrence Frank to call timeout. During that little run ("This is the NBA and teams are gonna make runs" - Frank) the Nets commit 3 turnovers, miss a layup and bail Toronto out with a foul. Toto converts every one of them.
If this year is gonna be like last year, we will revisit the following theme over and over. When is Lawrence Frank gonna realize that his team is falling apart? Probably because Byron "My son could coach a better game" Scott, his mentor, had no clue what to do either. What just about every other coach in the NBA does is call a fairly immediate timeout, both to get control back of his team, have them settle down, and to break the momentum of the team "making the run".
When I say immediate, I mean three sloppy, lost, bad possessions in a row while the other team takes advantage. Suppose the great Coach Frank called a time out when the Toto run was only 6. You're now down by 2. Set up a play, tie the game, break the run. Nope.
Okay, but this game, you're only down 6, not too bad. So LF gets, what, 5 out of a possible 10 on this one.
Well, RJ doesn't convert, and then Toto does, so now it's and 8 point lead for Toto, and nearly 3 and a half minutes have expired in the quarter without the Nets smelling a point. But the Nets hang in at least, and with 1:22 left in the half, ONE MINUTE AND 22 SECONDS THAT IS, the Nets are only down by 4.
You think to yourself, okay, trade baskets, run down the clock, maybe you're down 6 at the half. That's not bad, and that's the worse case scenario. You could go into the locker room tied or even up a deuce.
So here's the situation - 1:22, Toronto with the ball. You've got 3 timeouts left, a ful and two 20s. Play D. Set up plays, run the clock down. Call time out to set up a play. Whatever...
What transpires is this:
- Ten seconds elapse. Boone fouls Bosh. Bosh drains two. 45-39. 1:12 left.
(Hey, Lawrence - how about calling time and setting up a play? No? Oh, okay...)
- The teams trade steals. Nets ball with 39 seconds left.
(Hey Coach Frank - what say we call time out and set up a play to drain as much clock as we can? Even if we miss, Toto gets the ball with only about 15 seconds left, they'll hold for the last shot and we might go in only down 8. And if we make it we might go in only down 3 or 4... No? Oh, okay...)
- Antoine Wright takes matters into his own hands as the shot clock drains down to 14 (you can't make this stuff up) and drives right into a block by the much taller Chris Bosh.
(Am I dreaming or would a set play take longer than 10 seconds?)
- Bosh gets fouled right away, I mean right away, by VC. No time clicks off the clock. Bosh drains two. Nets down 8, 47-39, with 24 seconds left on the clock.
(Mr. Coach Lawrence Frank, sir - please, call a time out, set up a play for the last shot. Worst case you're down by 8 at the half; you could be down only 5 or 6. You got 3 timeouts left and they evaporate at the end of the half, so why not use 'em and put your team in as good a position as it can be, having already been outscored 30-18 this quarter? Whattaya say, huh? No? Oh, okay...)
- Unaccountably, the Nets score! But there's still 17 seconds left. And Toto's got the ball.
(Really, Mr Frank, sir, you see? The whole idea of setting up a play is to get everybody on the same page of draining the clock down for the last shot. That way the worst you go down in 8, and if you make the shot you're down 6, anybody's game. Excuse me? Oh, I see. You're the experienced professional. I'm just a lifelong fan, player and coach. Sorry. What was I thinking?)
- TJ Ford scores with 2 seconds left as the Raptors try to hold for the last shot. Nets down 8.
- Kidd tries to throw it down court but Krstic can't handle it. As time expires the ball finds its way into Bosh's hands at midcourt and soon thereafter hurtling thru the cords as the backboard turns pink.
Nets net? Down 52-41 at the half. Down 11. Not 3, 4, 6 or even 8. Eleven.
Second half begins with the Nets getting the ball and scoring on a Curly layup, but then this being the NBA, "teams are gonna make runs", right Lawrence?
I find it interesting that the NBA team that never seems to make such go ahead runs in the last few years is the Nets...
Missed shot, offensive rebound given up as flatfooted Nets watch, foul, turnover, missed layup, and just like that, the Nets are down 59-43. Raptors are on a 7-0 run and the Nets look inept.
Suppose, just suppose, the Nets use one of those extremely precious time outs, settle down both themselves and the Raptors, set up a play and maybe cut it to 14 while breaking the Raptors momentum? At 16 and the Raptors on a roll, it might be your last chance...
When Mr Frank finally does call time out, only 30 seconds have elapsed further, and the Nets are down by 19. For the second quarter in a row they have scored 2 points in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the quarter. As we would learn a few days later, the Nets have not overcome a 20 point lead since 2002. February 2002. This game is now out of hand. You have traded any hope of winning this game for a lousy 30 seconds. Was it worth the wait? And what's the point now, Mr Lawrence Frank, sir?
It just gets worse. My wife and kids want to leave. We leave after the 3rd quarter. Nets down by 23. I hate leaving games early, and now that we have season parking, there's no incentive to beat the traffic. (Attendance officially a little less than 15,000, more like 9,000 by the end of the third, so there's not gonna be any real traffic anyway...) But it turns out to be a wise move. Nets get down 36 at one point and are completely embarrassed, 102-69.
I'd like to turn the page, but knowing Lawrence Frank, I won't be able to...