Carmelo Anthony goes up for the layup on Brook Lopez in a game last season. Credit: Getty Images
If you were expecting any kind of outlandish statements about the Nets-Knicks rivalry prior to Thursday’s game you will be sorely disappointed.
A combined 8-26 record has dampened what was a simmering offseason rivalry.
So gone are statements from Paul Pierce about how he intends to make this a Nets town and how his hatred for the Knicks goes back to 15 years in Boston. In their place are blanket statements about merely trying to win a game when the teams meet for the first time this season.
“No, I don’t think there’s any heat behind it,” Nets head coach Jason Kidd said Wednesday. “I think it’s just two teams trying to find a way to win.”
Perhaps the strongest comments involved the stark reality of the situation. After Tuesday’s 24-point loss, Kidd said “both teams stink” and after Wednesday’s Knicks practice, Carmelo Anthony said his team is a “laughingstock.”
“I think both teams feel that we should be better with our record, but unfortunately we're not, and both teams are looking for a win tomorrow, so that's as easy as it gets,” Kidd said.
If only it were that easy for the Nets, who still remain optimistic about a turnaround, especially once Deron Williams (ankle), Pierce (hand), Jason Terry (knee) and Andrei Kirilenko (back) return.
“We’re going to be a great team — not a good team — a great team,” Terry said. “And we just got to get healthy, No. 1, but we just got to continue to fight.”
It wasn’t quite a guarantee because Terry pointed to the exact issues that cause things to swing downhill.
“Too many times, even when we did have our guys, when a team made a run on us or something, we’ve dropped our head and felt sorry for ourselves. Even at home, the fans start to boo, [and] we feel sorry for ourselves. No, it’s just basketball. Go out here like the kid you were when you were 15. Have fun, enjoy it and enjoy whooping somebody’s ass. That’s what it’s gonna take. On Thursday, what better game to do it in than that one.”
No moment would be better for a Net turnaround to start than Thursday. When the schedule was released, members of both teams went back-and-forth talking about which team was going to take over New York but now it’s about improving to 6-13 for the Nets.
“For me, it’s personal from my battles with the Knicks over the years,” Terry said. “And so I don’t know from a Nets-Knicks standpoint, I haven’t been here. This will be my first experience, and unfortunately I’ll be watching and not in the fight, but I can only imagine the magnitude of this game tomorrow. Both teams are struggling; it’s a dire situation, so that's when you tend to see the best come out.”
The Knicks still have something the Nets don’t want any part of — last place in the Atlantic Division.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy and we understand that and that’s why I remain optimistic,” Terry said. “I mean, if it gets any worse than this, who the f— knows? I don’t know. We got four guys at practice today. I’ve never seen anything like it, so it can only get better and I just want to tell all our fans out there: Continue to come and support us, we need you now more than ever.”
Kidd again unclear on Frank’s responsibilities
Kidd was vague on Tuesday when he announced assistant coach Lawrence Frank had been reassigned. In a matter-of-fact tone, he said Frank’s new role was to compile daily reports.
Kidd didn’t shed any more light on that Wednesday and even sounded evasive when pressed.
Asked about the content of Frank’s daily reports, Kidd responded by saying, “Whatever you want to write”
Asked again, Kidd said, “A report about the game.”
The cause of this breakup is a difference of philosophies and many players seemed to prefer just hearing from Kidd.
“To me, it's always been one voice,” Terry said. “This is Kidd's team. He's the coach. We love Coach Frank and what he brought to the table, but obviously J, they had their differences, so we're riding with coach Kidd.”
Later, Kidd gave a more general answer to Frank’s “reassignment” when asked by a TV reporter.
“It’s part of the job,” Kidd said. “He’s working. He’s giving his reports, so do I miss him? No, he’s doing his job and what I’ve asked him to do.”