"That was a game we would have lost last year, " Lawrence Frank gushed after his team's 87-85 home victory over the listless, winless Washington Wizards....
Hey Lawrence - by all rights you shoulda lost it THIS year as well...
7:32 in the second quarter, at home, against the winless and clueless Wizards, and the Nets are already down 20. Frank calls the second timeout of the half at this point, no sooner, despite his team playing so carelessly that the crowd actually boos them going into the timeout. The first timeout occurred when the lovable Wizards jumped out to a 10-2 lead to start the game. Frank would finish the half still holding onto several timeouts as usual.
Nonetheless, the Nets rally and are only down 5 at the half.
By the end of the 3rd, they're down one. Anybody's game, and the Nets have home court, all their timeouts and momentum.
Where's J Kidd? Remember - the law says, Thou Shalt always start the 4th with your key player on the bench.
When Kidd does come in, his team having lost the momentum, the game is tied. So far, so good.
And with less than two minutes to go the Nets are up 6, 85-79.
RJ commits a good foul and Caron Butler drains them both. A minute 30 to go, Nets up four, two time outs available. Ok, let 'em play.
Then you get the tell tale signs of a team unraveling - RJ launches a 3 with 17 seconds left on the shot clock.
If Mr Lawrence Frank is so excellent a coach, why don't his players understand, game after game, that the thing to do with a 4 point lead, the ball, and a minute 30 to go is to milk the clock down and try to score an easy 2? Then you'd be up 6 with a minute to go. The other team has to get the ball down court, score and get the ball back after you've (hopefully) drained the clock down 24 again.
Instead his players regularly shoot unnecessary threes that they effectively NEVER make (haven't made one all season in this situation, and 4 of the 5 games have had this same situation) and leave double digits of seconds on the shot clock...
Wright fouls Arenas, of all people, who drains both shots. Nets up only 2, with 1:14 still on the clock.
Hey, Lawrence - how about we call time out and set up a play? No? Oh, sorry...
RJ takes a shot and misses, again leaving double digits on the shot clock.
Despite Antawn Jamison launching a 3 of his own (dude - you're only down 4 with time to get the ball back; why are you shooting threes??) the Nets, in typical end of game fashion, stand flat footed as Songalia gets the rebound. He misses the put back, but Washington gets the ball again, fouls Butler and Butler drains both foul shots. Tie game. 35 seconds left.
Perfect time to call timeout and set up a play, right? Are you kidding?
Nets come down the court and AGAIN with double digits on the shot clock RJ shoots. But Washington bails out the Nets with a foul. RJ bails out the Nets by sinking both free throws. (He's missed two all season so far, out of about 50 attempts.) Nets up 2, but there is 24 seconds left on the clock.
Wouldn't it make sense, especially since you're on the road and winless, to call timeout and set up a play, Washington?
It becomes obvious that Washington's plan is to have Arenas take the last shot. He dribbles in place for about 10 seconds. Then he tries to drive the lane, backs out, looks like he's gonna drive the right side of the lane, pulls out, and then, with the shot clock on 1, finds himself in the corner, well covered, throws up an airball, and that's it. (There were three tenths of a second left, a 24 second violation, but the Nets got it in and game over.)
Second game in this young season that the opposition in the Nets building had a chance to tie or win. Second game this young season the Nets dodge a bullet, at home, against a winless team.
"That was a game we would have lost last year, " Lawrence Frank said.
Let's see if the Nets luck keeps holding up.