...is when you do the same thing as you have done over and over and yet this time expect a different result.
When the Nets were 4-1, I dared to dream. Take the Celts and you're 5-1, then knock off the Hornets and you're 6-1, and you play Orlando and Miami at home, with a game (probably a loss) in Boston in between New Orleans and Orlando, and you could be 8-2 after 10, about to go on the first road trip of the year. Even 7-3 would be very respectable, even with 2 early season losses to your division foe, the Celtics.
I was in fact dreaming. As long as Lawrence Frank is coach, the Nets will never approach 50 wins, will never make it out of the first round, will be lucky to break even at 41-41.
Tonite's game is the primary piece of evidence for this hopelessness.
Despite being up 12 at the half, and shooting in the 50s, the Hornets play abysmally in the 3rd and finish it down 2. The Nets have come all the way back and seem to have momentum on their side.
Nonetheless, the Nets, despite scoring 30 in the quarter, don't look really good doing it, and let opportunity after opportunity to take a 10+ point lead slip away.
Still, the Nets find themselves with under 5 minutes to play, one full and two 20 second timeouts in their possession and up 11 points. New Orleans has continued to play sloppily and the Nets continue to miss opportunity after opportunity, with the Hornets now shooting under 40%.
With 4:28 to go, Peja drains a 3, as is his wont. Then Malik Allen commits a stupid foul away from the ball, turning it into a 4 point play.
Nets 79, NO 71. 7 point lead, and a 4 point play just happened. You've got 3 timeouts left. Settle your team down. Set up a play and get it back up to 9. Throw water on the nascent rally.
Offensive foul. Missed slam dunk.
When the dust clears, the Nets lead is 3. And there is still 3 minutes to go.
Missed layup. Missed foul shots. Missed opportunities.
So here we are, 42 seconds left, Nenad Krstic on the line shooting two. You know, the Croatian with the sweet shot. 50% from the floor.
He misses the first shot.
He misses the second shot.
BUT WAIT - who comes out of nowhere to get the rebound but Jason Kidd. The Nets get a reprieve and a new 24 second clock with 42 to go in the game, with 2 timeouts left. Call time! Set up a play!
With only 15 seconds drained off the shot clock, Krstic throws up a brick. Even the brain dead announcers had just said, time to set up Richard Jefferson to be the hero. 9 seconds left on the shot clock and the ball is nowhere near RJ.
Of course, Lawrence Frank comes by his ignorance of how to manage the end of the game from good ol' Byron, so surprisingly, NO does not call timeout to set up a play either!
Nonetheless, there are 27 seconds left on the clock. If the Hornets score at the end of 24 there will only be 3 seconds left. Maybe if Frank had called timeout when Jason got the rebound he could have made everybody aware that they could foul with 10 seconds left, put somebody on the line to make them earn it, then call timeout again to set up another play. Maybe the Nets would not have had to foul because the set play they should have called during the timeout they should have called would have them up 2.
Well, of course, Chris Paul drains the clock down, and drives the lane for an easy bank shot. 2.6 seconds left. Nets call time.
Now, my theory is, Scott and Frank jealously hold onto their timeouts in case they need them for just this kind of situation (altho Scott just bypassed his opportunity). Of course, if you manage them in that way, you are almost assuring that you will need to use them at the end, because you will be giving the other team every opportunity to go on one of those runs that every team (except, somehow, the Nets) seem to make.
Looking back at the last few seasons, the Nets nowadays rarely win by more than 10, much less 20. Many of their wins are nail biters, which I presume emboldens Frank in his hold-onto-the-timeouts fetish. What he doesn't seem to get, which other NBA coaches do seem to get, is that a well placed timeout much earlier in the game can usually mean you coast in the 4th qtr. Will he ever learn this lesson?
Nets set up the inbound pass. I say to my wife, I bet the house that Antoine Wright shoots the shot. Not Krstic, who, aside from just bricking, has the most accurate shot on the team. Not RJ, who has carried the team scoring more than 25 almost every game (and having 32 at this point), to say nothing of shooting something like 62 of 64 from the charity stripe, so if he drives the basket and gets the foul is likely to drain them both. No.
The one who will get the ball will be the irratic and inexperienced Antoine Wright. And he will miss.
New Orleans doesn't like what it sees, and calls time out.
What is Lawrence Frank telling his team? Is he saying, Get Jefferson free and have him take the shot? Is he saying, deke with RJ and get the ball to Nenad?
Nets line up again. Don't like what they see. They call time out.
(What a privilege it is to see these two great basketball minds at work! It's a good thing they didn't squander their time outs doing things like stopping the other teams momentum...)
Again, I wonder what L Frank is telling his guys... Make sure Antoine gets it so he can throw up a wild shot, off balance...
Nets line up. Mercifully, both teams are out of timeouts. (If not, I'm sure they would continue to call them until they were all expired. That's what you've got 'em for!) Nets get the ball in bounds. To... Antoine Wright. He's off balance. He throws up a wild shot.
The Nets are now 4-3. Next up - Boston, in Boston. Then at home vs 5-2 Orlando (4-0 on the road).
What do I hear for 4-5 when they play over the hill Miami on Saturday?
Mark my words, after only game 7. Despite all the considerable talent on the Nets, with Frank as coach, the best we can hope for is a .500 team.