Jason Kidd has ownership's support
NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets' slide has reached five straight defeats, but rookie coach Jason Kidd continues to have the support of the team's Russian ownership, according to league sources.
Playing without the injured Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry, Brooklyn faded in the second half Sunday night and came away with a 109-97 home loss to the Detroit Pistons to fall to a stunning 3-10.
But sources told ESPN.com that Kidd continues to have the backing of his bosses with Brooklyn dealing with several injuries and other mitigating factors which have contributed to the poor start.
The Nets are in 14th place in the East through Sunday, despite the NBA-record payroll sanctioned by Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who is on course to spend around $190 million this season on salaries and luxury taxes.
Among the Nets' initial concerns early in the season, sources confirmed, were some "philosophical differences" between Kidd and lead assistant Lawrence Frank. But sources stressed to ESPN.com that the Nets have been working to smooth out any issues in recent days.
"They're fine," one source said of Kidd and Frank.
Coming into the season, Frank was considered as the ideal complement to Kidd as he learned on the job, similar to the set up in Chicago when first-time head coach Vinny Del Negro was flanked by two veteran head coaches in Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff. The New York Daily News, in Friday's editions, first reported an issue between Kidd and Frank; multiple sources with knowledge of the situation have labeled it "friction" to ESPN.com.
Sources say Nets veteran players support Kidd, who has coached in 11 of the Nets' 13 games so far. Kidd opened his first season as a head coach serving a two-game suspension, with assistant coach Joe Prunty moving from behind the bench to serve as the team's interim coach. Frank and fellow bench assistant John Welch respectively remained in their defensive and offensive coordinator-like roles ostensibly for continuity.
The Nets, though, have seen anything but continuity on the floor. The flood of injuries has forced Kidd to use five different starting lineups in the last six games.
Williams (ankle) has missed four games and Lopez (ankle) has sat out the last five. Kirilenko (back) has been sidelined for nine games and Terry (knee) has missed two straight for the Nets. Joe Johnson has been the only Net to start every game this season.
The Nets also have had major problems in the third quarter of games. They were outscored 34-15 by the Pistons in the third Sunday afternoon and are 0-10 this season when they have lost the third quarter. In those 10 third-quarter losses, they have been outscored by 96 points.
And when it happened against the Pistons, Brooklyn heard boos from the home crowd en route to losing for the eighth time in nine games.
"I think everybody in here is embarrassed," an exasperated Garnett said. "You definitely don't want that at home. Like I've been saying, we're going to continue to work to try to change this as best we can."
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"Jason just questioned us in the locker room (about the third-quarter woes)," Garnett added. "But it's something we're obviously going to have to address. We've got to be the worst team in the league when it comes to third quarters, just unacceptable. As players we have to be accountable, including myself, and come out and do whatever it is that we got to do and apply it."
Frank, who was head coach in Detroit for the previous two seasons, has a relationship with Kidd dating to his time as an assistant under Byron Scott on the New Jersey Nets' coaching staff when the Nets went to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. Frank replaced Scott and was Kidd's head coach from 2004 to 2008, ranking as the Nets' all-time leader in victories.
Last Monday, Kidd took the blame for "just bad coaching" following a 108-98 loss to Portland at home. The players had a meeting with the locker room closed to the media for several minutes and Pierce later said the players were "very angry" and that "nobody's happy about losing."
But Pierce and Garnett said the blame should not be directed at Kidd, who is making the jump straight to head coaching after deciding to end his playing career following the 2012-13 playoffs with the New York Knicks.
"The blame is all of us man," Garnett said last week. "It's not just on Jason. You can't put the s--- all on him."
"We gotta hold everybody accountable," Pierce added last week. "The players, the coaches, this is one big group and we're all in it together. So it's not only on [Kidd], it's on all of us."
On Sunday, Kidd kept the majority of his starters out for a good chunk of the fourth quarter as the Nets tried to erase a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit. Garnett and Pierce sat until 4:02 remaining in the game and checked in with the Nets down eight.
Kidd said afterward that he probably should have left most of his subs in for the entire fourth. Garnett, Pierce, Johnson, Shaun Livingston and Mirza Teletovic got no closer than within five points of the Pistons the rest of the way.
"I mean he's the coach, he makes those decisions, he is on the sideline, he's seeing it," Pierce said of Kidd's decision to go with his subs for most of the fourth. "But it's something that has been plaguing us through the year in the third quarters. As the coach, he makes those decisions.
"As starters, we are confident in him that he is going to make the best decisions for the team."
Added Garnett: "Tough times right now. But you know what? I don't believe in feeling sorry for yourself. I believe in working your ass off, trying to work your way out of the hole in which you made and nothing less than that."
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