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No excuses for loss to Celtics

Terrible defeat the worst of a season filled of awful ones
03/03/2007 7:17 PM ET
By Al Iannazzone / Special to YESNetwork.com

Jason Kidd reacts to another inexcusable defeat.(AP)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If the Nets just miss the postseason, there are many games you can point to as the reason, but Saturday's may have jumped to the top of the list.

In no specific order, there was the Celtics' game where they led 18-0 and lost on Paul Pierce's jumper at the buzzer. There was the double-OT defeat to the Suns when Vince Carter fouled out committing an intentional foul late in regulation, and the Nets failed to foul moments later, allowing Steve Nash to send the game in OT with a three.

There were the three straight losses by one point out West — at Sacramento, Golden State and the L.A. Clippers. There was the Atlanta game where Tyronn Lue nailed the buzzer-beater in OT. There were about six more where the Nets lost after leading by 10 more.

But Saturday's was about as bad as it gets.

The Nets lost 96-88 to Boston in overtime. They had no business losing. None. But they came out flat, didn't take advantage of Pierce missing 15 of his first 16 shots or the Celtics missing 26 of 27 between the first and second quarters.

That's when the Nets should have pulled away and then been able to rest the starters for Sunday's game at Philly, which begins a brutal and crucial six-game trip that features Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City.

But the Nets coughed it up, like they have so many times this season. They led by 12 with 6:35 left, 11 with 3:51 left, 10 with 2:40 left, and nine with 84 seconds to go in regulation.

The Nets had three days off before this game, so their legs shouldn't have been a problem. The early start shouldn't have mattered since the game started the same time for the Celtics. Ultimately, the Nets didn't show the sense of urgency they needed with a big trip looming and with a playoff berth at stake.

As a result, as the game wore on, you could almost guess the outcome. All the Nets did was give Boston life and hope.

Carter missed five free throws, including two in the fourth. Jason Kidd missed six of seven shots and two from the line. The Nets were hit with a delay of game technical foul — a rarity. And Eddie House, a 93 percent foul shooter, bricked one from the line when he could have iced the game.

These things allowed the Celtics to hang around.

How many times have you seen a player have an awful shooting game and then rise up and hit the big three the way Pierce did with 11.8 seconds left?

You could have predicted that Delonte West was going to make the game-tying three, especially when the Nets failed to foul Rajon Rondo — as coach Lawrence Frank directed — when the rookie guard was racing up the court.

When the season ends, I'll rank the losses, especially if the Nets miss the playoffs. This one may have jumped to the top spot. But 24 games remain.

STATS OF THE GAME
• The Celtics were 4-for-32 over the first 17:14. They were 17 of 31 over the last 17 minutes.

• The Celtics was 0-for-13 from three before burying two in the final 11.8 to force OT.

• The three perennial All-Stars on the floor — Kidd, Carter and Pierce — combined to shoot 17-for-58 and score 46 points.

• The Nets' season high for blocks before Saturday was seven. They doubled that against Boston.

STAR OF THE GAME
Big man Al Jefferson played like an All-Star again against the Nets with a career-high 32 points, 18 boards and two blocks. His last game here: 29 (then-career-high), 14 and one.

QUOTEBOOK
"We got what we deserved this afternoon. We didn't come ready to play and win this game ... We got what we deserved, and it's very, very disappointing." — Frank on the game

"I don't know when I'll be able to step on that court. I haven't done too much explosion stuff. I've done some cutting, some shooting, that kind of stuff. I don't think I've dunked yet ... I don't even know if I'm going to be back on the road trip. I would like to come back somewhere around the end. It depends on how I feel."
Richard Jefferson on his return, possibly during the Nets' six-game trip

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Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.). E-mail Nets Insider at nets@yesnetwork.com.

Friday, March 2: Posted at 5:21 p.m. ET

EAST RUTHERFORD — When Friday's practice and film session ended, Jason Kidd went to the weight room to lift and then came out and shot jumpers. Once again, he was the last Net to leave the floor.

You have to give credit for all the work he's putting in this season. Coach Lawrence Frank said it the other day. He wanted Kidd to practice less often because of his back and cracked rib, but there he was, shooting and spending more time on the court than any other player, rookies included.

"He's out there busting his hump harder than anyone," Frank said. "That's the most amazing thing. He comes here early and practices and shoots. Stays late and shoots. I think you see a direct correlation. It's a great example for all our guys."

Kidd is leading on the court and by example, which becomes infinitely more important at this point of the season.

The Nets are in a fight for the playoffs. With Kidd stepping up and knocking down threes at an impressive clip — he was 39-for-83 in January (47 percent) and was 11-for-19 the last three games of February — it opens things up for Vince Carter and allows guys like Bostjan Nachbar, Eddie House and Mikki Moore to have big games.

Teams have to pay more attention to Kidd now on offense, and not just because of his deft, pinpoint passing and unmatched vision — they have to honor his shot.

"I feel like all of them are going in," Kidd said. "The thing with being a shooter, I've found out, make or miss you have to keep shooting.

"I wish I would have started it sooner, but right now I'm happy where I'm at. I've always relied on passing and finding the open guy, but now it's fun being on the other end."

***

The three-day break is over for the Nets. They conclude their five-game homestand Saturday against Boston, which is the start of three games in four nights in three different cities. They play at Philly on Sunday and then fly to Dallas and face the Mavericks on Tuesday.

After a two-day break, the Nets play four games in five nights in four different cities — at Houston, San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City.

"What we've talked about is playing each game and trying to play well in that game and then move on to the next game," Cliff Robinson said. "That's our biggest approach right now, and it's the way we should be looking at things, instead of trying to worry about what the situation is in front of us."

Richard Jefferson's status remains up in the air. He may he'll play at the end of the trip.

***

Antoine Wright (elbow) probably won't play Saturday.

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Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.). E-mail Nets Insider at nets@yesnetwork.com.

Wednesday, February 28: Posted at 12:28 a.m. ET EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There may have been times when Lawrence Frank cringed with all the three-pointers his team was taking. There may have been times when he thought to himself 'bad shot' until it went in and then it was like, 'Way to go.'

Nearly 40 percent of the Nets' shots were three-pointers — a whopping 32. But they knocked down a franchise-record 16 of them in their 113-101 win over the Wizards Tuesday night.

Jason Kidd was the marksman of the night, canning six-of-nine threes, including five in the third quarter in what was a tremendous shooting exhibition for the point guard. Kidd set the tone and everyone just followed the leader.

Bostjan Nachbar was 3-for-5, Eddie House 3-for-8, Cliff Robinson 2-for-2 and Vince Carter 2-for-7.

"When we missed a couple, [coach] said, 'Hey, let's get to the basket,'" said Carter, who had only seven of his 27 after halftime. "So I said 'Guys I'll get to the basket, you guys spot up.' Once guys caught fire, nobody wanted to step in front of the three. I wasn't hitting shots in the second half so I figured I'd do the [drive-and-kick] job."

It was an impressive display, but Frank probably will remind the Nets that lightning doesn't always strike twice when his team plays again Saturday against Boston.

The Nets were aggressive going to the basket also. Carter and Nachbar had memorable dunks, and Kidd put the finishing touches on his night with a driving layup on Roger Mason Jr.

The Nets need to be aggressive on both ends, play with the urgency they showed in the second half, for the remainder of the season, starting with Saturday's game.

When they host Boston in the finale of this five-game home stand before heading out for six straight road games, the Nets will go for their fourth straight win and perhaps a chance to climb in the standings.

This victory put the Nets in a three-way tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with the Magic and Heat. They each play two games before the Nets play again.

"The only thing we can do is go out and play and control our own destiny by winning," Kidd said. "I don't even know who's ahead of us. We can only control ourselves and if we can do that we can put ourselves in a pretty good situation."

STAT OF THE GAME
Kidd matched Gilbert Arenas, the NBA's No. 2 scorer, point-for-point. They both had 26 points, but Kidd took eight fewer shots, including three fewer threes.

STAT OF THE GAME II
Kidd accounted for 19 points in a 3:09 span in the third quarter and 24 of the Nets' first 27 points in the period

STAT OF THE GAME III
Kidd (24), Nachbar (16) and House (eight) scored more points in the second half than Carter — seven.

STAT OF THE GAME IV
15,102 fans, and entire organization held their breath when Kidd slipped in the fourth trying to help up Carter. When he got up, those same people let out sighs of relief.

STAR OF THE GAME V
Kidd was incredible in the third period, taking over the game with 19 points, six rebounds and two assists.

QUOTEBOOK I
Jason Kidd, what he did to start that third quarter, was tremendous. Just single-handedly, getting the flow and momentum back in our favor, it got everyone reenergized."
— Frank on Kidd.

QUOTEBOOK II
"[The Wizards] more or less [said] beat us from the outside. [We] kind of fell into that trap in the first half. You're wide open so if you miss it it's clearly to their advantage because they can put up a lot of points in a hurry but if you make it, then you've got a ball game. That first half we weren't making them but we were only down by one of two so we felt that if we had those great looks [again] we could hopefully take the lead."
— Kidd on the Nets' shooting

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Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.). E-mail Nets Insider at nets@yesnetwork.com.
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