Atlanta may be better than people think, so this home game is not a gimme like it one might expect it to have been in recent years past.
The game is close at the half (Nets by 4), but they gain some daylight and lead by 12 after 3. Atlanta does not look like they have the horses to mount a comeback. Nets could stick a dagger in them early on.
But here's another Lawrence Frank reality, also inherited from Byron Scott. You substitute the same way every game no matter the score. Nets fans who watch with frequency know - 3 minutes to go in the first, J Kidd comes out. No matter what. 8 and a half left in the second, J Kidd comes back in, no matter what. Two minutes left in the third, out comes J Kidd. 8 and a half to go in the game, here comes you know who.
(Not that I'm bitter or anything, but remember Game 6 of the finals in 2003? Kerry Kittles is on fire, the Nets have an 11 point lead after 3. So what does Byron do? SITS KITTLES! What does San Antonio do? Goes on a 19-2 run. Scott doesn't call time, doesn't put Kittles back in. Game over. NBA Finals series over. Spurs win. The-e-e-e Spurs WIN!)
So the fourth quarter starts and there's J Kidd, cooling his heels on the bench.
I don't know... Maybe Rod Thorn knows, maybe L Frank knows... Does J Kidd have it in his contract that he will play no more than 36 minutes a game? Does Frank have to leave him on the pine when the Nets conceivably could put the issue out of doubt with, say, 8 or 6 minutes to play? Might that not allow you to pull J Kidd? Might that 6 or 8 minutes count as J Kidd sitting time?
Well, it starts out okay, and 3 minutes in Atlanta calls timeout, down by 13. They're on the line, shooting two, so it'll probably be 11 when the Nets get the ball. Not too bad, just giving up one point. Time to put Kidd in, right?
NOPE. Darryl Armstrong (the guy the plan says to take out of the game so Jason can come back in) turns it over. Hawk layup. Nachbar gets blocked on a layup, Hawks drain a three. Our man Darryl, feeling it, takes a three and misses. The Hawks miss a 3, but then the Nets come back down and launch a 3 that clangs. So when J Kidd finally gets back in the game, the Nets are only up 6 and there's still 7 minutes to play.
With 5 minutes left, the lead is down to 3...
The Nets are able to get it back to 9 with three minutes to go. Despite allowing Atlanta to get within 4, and despite missing three, yes THREE FOUL SHOTS down the stretch (2 missed by good ol' Darryl), the Nets hang on to win 87-81.
Ugly win, but the Nets are 3-1.