Thursday, February 28, 2008

Game 57 - We now know it wasn't Kidd

All the talk about Jason Kidd mentally abandoning the team, then physically doing so, is now officially bunk.

The Nets are as mediocre as they were before. And they are losing EXACTLY like they lost before.

Here is my claim - these men are professionals, yes, but they are human beings first. When you lose time after time in the same way, then, if a new game is evolving in the same way, there is going to be trepidation and a lack of confidence. An expectation of bad things. A lack of belief that the team has what it takes to get over these humps.

This, more than anything else, is what makes Lawrence Frank a deficient coach at this level. He does not respect this at all.

As I have written before, there have been perhaps 20 games this season that the Nets have lost by their coach not knowing when to call timeouts to douse an opponent's runs, or by sticking to robotic substitution patterns when some real coaching insight would have made a difference. If Frank had won half of them, JKidd is not a Mav and the Nets are the #4 seed.

If Kidd was so crucial to the team, then one might expect to see very different games now that he's gone. And in fact, the first game was such a game. Frank coached it entirely differently. And won.

But then he went back to the same old same old...

In a seesaw game, the Nets start the 4th down 3. Neither team has been able to muster a lead of more than 6 at any point in the game. This is clearly a game when coaching can make the difference, if not in a positive way then in a way such that the team does not hurt itself.

At that magical 9 minute mark of the 4th, the Nets go up 75-70, their biggest lead since the first quarter. Stan Van Gundy, like any reasonable coach, immediately calls time. A minute later the Magic is down 2. See, this is how coaches can help their team.

With 6 minutes to go, the game is tied at 78. Darryl Armstrong has been playing for 8 straight minutes. The guy behind me, another season ticket holder, has been calling for Marcus to get back in the game since 2 minutes into the quarter. Why, Lawrence, is Darryl still in there?

Finally Frank calls timeout. Okay. Williams comes back in. Okay... Why did it take so long? And why a timeout now?

With 4:30 to go, exactly half of what was left in the game, the game is tied at 83, but then Turkoglu (who had his own rabid cheering section of young Turks, excuse the expression, in the stands, replete with the red crescent moon flag), drives the lane unaccosted to put Orlando up 2.

Frank calls timeout. Why?

What follows is a Turkoglu trey, an offensive on RJ, a personal on RJ, and suddenly the Nets are down 7 with 3 to go. An official timeout is called.

The Nets come back and score, but then RJ gets his 3rd foul in one minute (to put him at 5). HELLO? Your team is stuggling. CALL EFFING TIME! SET UP A PLAY!

Nope. The Nets miss a shot, get a rebound, miss a layup, foul. On RJ. He's gone. Orlando calls time and makes one of two. Eight point lead with 1:43 to go, the largest lead of the game.

Then the estimable Lawrence Frank breaks out the old foul and go for 2 strategy. DUDE - YOU'RE DOWN BY 8 - LAUNCH 3S!!!


Pretty soon VC fouls out, because, after all, that's the strategy. Instead of losing by 8, or 6 or anything less than 8, they lose by 10. They never had a chance because of the embarrassing and stupidly futile "strategy" of Frank to foul to "extend the game". Fans file dejectedly out of the arena. The Nets players look stunned and depressed. Yeah, the best thing at this point, extend the futility.

Frank doesn't get how demoralizing this is, and I don't want to hear about professionals. Human beings with no hope don't perform. Period. Get that thru your thick head, Lawrence.

A coach is there to help a team win. There are big games and not so big games. There are must wins, watershed wins, turn the corner wins. And there are games that slip away.

But when 20 games slip away because your coach doesn't get it, he's hurting the team, demoralizing the team.

That's what's unprofessional, Lawrence.

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