TORONTO — In the immediate aftermath of blowing a 23-point lead to the Hornets on Wednesday night and losing a shot for their first three-game winning streak of the season, the Nets’ postgame locker room was as tortured as it’s been all season and the players’ demeanor was grim and downcast. Within that context, Allen Crabbe posted an intemperate comment on Twitter as an expression of his anger that he later deleted.
The tweet made use of five emojis of a people shouting at a sixth person listening quietly, and some on social media interpreted that as Crabbe criticizing coach Kenny Atkinson for yelling at the team after the game. At shootaround Friday morning before the Nets faced the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors at Air Canada Center, Crabbe denied that interpretation to Newsday and said it merely reflected the pain of losing.
“If people knew basketball, they would understand why I was frustrated by the fact that we had a big lead and we lost it,” Crabbe said. “Man, losing is deflating, just to have a 23-point lead and we’re feeling like we’re about to get our third (straight) win and it slips away. That was the biggest frustration. But nothing with the team, nothing with the coach. It was just a win we should have had.”
Asked directly if he was upset with Atkinson, Crabbe said, “Not at all. As a player, I kind of have to watch what I tweet, but at the same time, it’s outside people looking in. They don’t really have all the facts. People jump to conclusions. There’s no beef or frustration with how coach Kenny is coaching us.
“It’s like anything else, you see fans comment about what we should be doing, but they don’t know anything about what’s going on in the locker room. But to clear the air, it was just the frustration of the game.”
Crabbe and Atkinson didn’t even discuss the matter. “It didn’t bother me at all,” Atkinson said. “I totally understand it. I felt the same way. I think it was frustration. I didn’t even think twice about it.
“We can’t let it linger. We were all frustrated. We were up 23. That’s the next step for us is just closing games.”