EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—A day after New Jersey lost Game 1 of its first-round series with the Indiana Pacers, Nets coach Lawrence Frank was miffed.
His ire had nothing to do with the last-second foul call that put New Jersey in an early hole in the best-of-seven series. Rather, it centered on the way Nets guard Vince Carter was treated Monday after a dismal 12-for-33 shooting effort in the 90-88 loss.
Too many shots. Bad shot selection. They were all part of the media report card that focused on the misses more than Carter’s 31 points and 13 rebounds.
“Watch the tape again,” Frank said Monday. “Hey, when you’re a primary scorer, there are going to be a couple shots that you’re going to take and you live with. But he had so many great attacks. It didn’t fall for him. Doesn’t make him any less of a player, doesn’t make him any less of a person. Look, this guy has helped turn the franchise around. We’re going to be fine.”
Frank then started to break down Carter’s performance.
Of his 33 shots, 13 were either at or near the rim. With the Pacers electing to play him man-to-man, only once did Carter take a shot facing a double team, Frank said, adding that he takes it personally when one of his players is criticized.
“I respect it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the feedback when I feel like one of my guys is being crushed when look what the (heck) he’s done,” Frank said.
Carter, who laughed at himself after a couple of air balls on Sunday, was more concerned on Monday with his right wrist and side than his shooting woes. The All-Star took a hard fall in the fourth quarter on a drive to the basket. He was still sore after getting little sleep.
“Oh, I can care less about scrutiny and all that,” Carter said. “If it was a bad game, it was a bad game. Just because of what people say and what people think, they don’t dictate my game and how I play. I’ve been in the playoffs before and I’ve had bad games in the playoffs before. It’s just one of those things, you shake it off.”
Carter had intended to watch a videotape of the game on Sunday night, but said he was in too much pain to do it.
The pain won’t prevent him from playing in Game 2 on Tuesday night. And neither the pain nor his Game 1 performance will alter his shooting.
“Oh, if it’s open, I’m going to take it,” said Carter, who averaged 24.2 points on 43-percent shooting from the field in the regular season. “I’m not worried about it … it’s one night. I could see if I wasn’t a good shooter, then I would be frustrated. But those were shots that I had hit and have made in my career and throughout the season, so I’m going to take what they give me.”
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle thought the Nets would be a little more balanced offensively in Game 2, with forward Richard Jefferson seeing the ball a little more.
“I know Vince is still going to be their main guy,” Carlisle said. “That’s just who they’ve been as a team.”
Stephen Jackson, who guarded Carter for the most part, felt the Pacers made Carter take tough shots.
“You can’t (take) anything from him when he’s on,” Jackson said. “He’s one of the hardest guys to stop. And when he’s off, he definitely helps the opposing team. You gotta hope a guy like that misses some shots because it’s hard to stop him.”
Neither Jason Kidd nor Jefferson—the other members of the Nets’ big three — were worried about Carter rebounding.
Jefferson even recalled joking with Carter during Game 1.
“I was teasing him in the guts of the game,” Jefferson said. “Hey, are you going to make a shot? That’s the way we are as a group. We have so much confidence in each other, there is no need to get on anybody.”