Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd has been fined $25,000 for "public criticism of the officiating," the NBA announced Friday afternoon, hours before Kidd's club takes on the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series. Toronto holds a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven affair, and can close out the Nets at Barclays Center on Friday night. (Here's hoping the Brooklyn faithful are ready to get boisterous to help prevent that from happening.)
The comments that cost the first-year head coach 25 stacks came during a conference call with reporters on Thursday, one day after the Raptors fended off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by the Nets to earn a 115-113 win that pulled the Raptors within one win of Round 2 and pushed the Nets to the brink of elimination. Here's what the Kidd
did said, courtesy of Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
“[It’s] kind of mind-boggling when someone shoots 23 times and only ends up with one free throw,” Kidd said in what was just the beginning of a series of comments about the officiating.
When asked if [Joe] Johnson or the Nets might consider flopping, something Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been successful with in the series, Kidd didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah. If flopping is the way to go, then maybe we have to play that game,” he said. “But Joe is a strong individual, and unfortunately he doesn’t flop. He plays and he doesn’t complain, but that’s why we have officials, for them to make calls.”
Kidd’s most pointed comment, however, came at the expense of official Tom Washington, who didn’t call a foul in the final seconds when Shaun Livingston appeared to be knocked out of bounds by DeRozan while trying to rebound Andray Blatche’s missed free throw.
“I thought Shaun made a heck of a play to come up with the rebound and get fouled right in front of Tom Washington, but no call was made,” Kidd said. “So, with that being said, [Blatche] came up with the ball and his intention was to get the ball to Deron [Williams], and it just didn’t work out.”
(Before we move on: Saying Blatche's pass to Williams "just didn't work out" might be my favorite understatement of the playoffs. Deron Williams wouldn't have caught that pass if he was sitting on Gheorghe Muresan's shoulders like they were preparing for a chicken fight against Howard Eisley-riding-atop-Mark-Eaton during an offseason pool party at Brad Lohaus' house, a.k.a. Brad's LoHouse.)
Kidd's commentary on Johnson's seemingly disproportionate free-throw total lacks a bit of context, of course. It's not as if Johnson was blazing a trail to the basket and getting whacked by Toronto's tall trees; 12 of Joe's 23 field-goal attempts came on jumpers from outside the paint. And when Johnson did press the action into the paint — whether backing down the Raptors' smaller wings in the post or catching the ball at the nail, facing up on them and attacking — he was often able to create enough space with his dribble to avoid contact or loft up quick floaters before coming into the vicinity of the next line of Toronto defense.
Of Johnson's 23 shots, only a couple — thanks in large part to DeRozan swiping at the ball from behind after Johnson had beaten him off the dribble — seemed like they maybe, possibly could've drawn a call from an official looking for a reason to blow the whistle ... which, of course, is exactly the reaction that Kidd was hoping to foster in the officials for Friday's Game 6.
Officiating has been a hot topic of conversation throughout this first-round series, but through five games, neither team has received an established advantage from the zebras. Both the Nets and Raptors have been whistled for 129 personal fouls, with Brooklyn netting one more free throw (151) than Toronto (150) in 240 minutes of playing time. The officiating just hasn't been a major deciding factor in this series, and it certainly hasn't been one that's favored one side or another to a disproportionate degree. With the Nets facing a win-or-go-home situation, Kidd seems to be hoping that increased attention to the Raptors' hard-nosed defense results in more Brooklyn trips to the line in Game 6.
He certainly seemed to be in good spirits about the whole thing on Friday afternoon:
Jason Kidd, asked about the comments that got him fined, said, "It wasn't me."— Andrew Keh (@andrewkeh) May 2, 2014
Jason Kidd on getting fined by the NBA: "It's a beautiful day outside, isn't it?"— Rod Boone (@rodboone) May 2, 2014
Whether Kidd's comments had any impact on the officials will be clear soon enough, and that could go a long way toward determining whether Friday turns out being a beautiful night for Brooklyn, too.
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