Jason Kidd is a presumptive Hall of Fame point guard largely because of his ability to work every angle on a basketball court. Now the rookie coach is flexing his skills doing the same off the court.
With his Nets facing playoff elimination Friday night in Game 6 of their first-round series against the Raptors, Kidd used a conference call with reporters Thursday to send several less-than-subtle messages to the officials.
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Notably, he called "kind of mind-boggling'' the fact that in the Nets' 115-113 Game 5 loss Wednesday night, Joe Johnson took 23 shots from the field and was granted only one free throw, which he converted.
When someone noted that key Raptors fared better -- guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry went 20-for-23 from the line between them -- Kidd said, "If flopping is the way to go, we maybe have to play that game . . . But Joe is a strong individual and unfortunately he doesn't flop. He plays; he doesn't complain. That's why we have officials.''
Kidd also took issue with what he believed was a foul by DeRozan "right in front of [referee] Tom Washington'' as he battled Shaun Livingston for a rebound of Andray Blatche's missed free throw on the Nets' frantic final possession.
"That's their interpretation,'' Kidd said. "We have the best referees in professional sports . . . That just happens. That's just part of the game.''
None of the above was delivered with an edge but rather in Kidd's trademark unperturbed monotone. Still, he got reporters to bite and made his point, which also served to obscure the bigger picture of the Nets' plight.
The most expensive roster in NBA history must win its next two games to avoid finishing far short of where it had hoped with a group admittedly built for the present.
Speaking of which, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce sat out the entire final quarter in Game 5.
Afterward both players supported Kidd's decision, in part because the players the coach did use produced 44 points in the final 12 minutes. "This is about the Brooklyn Nets, not about two guys,'' Kidd said Thursday. "Those guys were cheering on the guys that were on the floor.''
It would behoove the Nets to start fast Friday night because their fans might not be forgiving after two straight defeats and a startling shot that the team's own official Twitter feed took at them during Game 5.
Lenn Robbins, the Nets' in-house beat reporter, took over the feed for part of the game from the social media staff and at one point posted: "#Nets fans take note -- this is what a playoff crowd sounds like . . . set your DVD and take notes #RAPTORSvNETS -- LR''
The comment generated more than 7,000 retweets, and many fans understandably did not take kindly to it. Neither did the Nets' front office.
The team feed posted this clarification Thursday: "Lenn Robbins' tweet last night didn't represent our organization's feelings. We have great fans. Looking frwrd to seeing u Friday for Game 6.''
The Nets announced every fan will be given a T-shirt commemorating the game. Also, to encourage early arrivals, from the time the gates open at 5:30 until 6, food concessions will be reduced by 25 percent.
It has been a close, wacky, melodramatic series, in which no lead is safe and no mind game goes unplayed.
Remember Game 1, which began with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri using an expletive preceding the word "Brooklyn'' during a pregame rally?
What you might remember less well is that after that game and again after Game 3, many fans and the Raptors themselves had concerns with the officiating. On each occasion, they won the next game. Kidd hopes tonight will be his turn.