After a tumultuous opening to his coaching career, Jason Kidd silenced some of the naysayers earlier on Monday afternoon.
The NBA rewarded the Nets’ head coach with the league’s coach of the month award following the team’s 10-3 showing in January. Although the Nets closed the month with two straight losses, they elevated themselves back into the Eastern Conference playoffs race with a dominant January showing.
Much of the Nets’ turnaround came once they started beating up on lesser opponents like the one they faced Monday night at the snowy Barclays Center. Wins against heavyweights like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat certainly helped as well.
The Nets snapped their three-game losing streak with a win over the stumbling Philadelphia 76ers, who have set their sights on June’s NBA Draft. The young Sixers played fast and loose with the ball as the Nets held on for a 108-102 win.
Shaun Livingston tallied 13 points, eight assists, seven steals, and six rebounds to lead the Nets. The Sixers turned the ball over 25 times, with the Nets accounting for 15 steals.
“He’s enjoying the game,” Kidd said. “He’s playing at a very high level and we need him to do that. His character, on and off the court, he’s as good as they come.”
In the win, starters Paul Pierce and Deron Williams accounted for 25 and 21 points, respectively. Mirza Teletovic came off the bench to score 20 points.
Kidd deserves much of the credit for the Nets’ ascension to competency. Following a blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 23, Kidd rightly questioned his team’s resiliency and professionalism. The Nets promptly opened the new year with a 9-1 spurt and displayed the cohesiveness owner Mikhail Prokhorov imagined following his pricey offseason.
According to Livingston, Kidd deserves a lot of the credit for the point guard’s reemergence.
“I give credit to Jason as well because I talk to him every day and just getting a chance to pick his brain gives me confidence,” Livingston said.
Although Kidd endured a rocky start to the season in which he demoted prized assistant coach Lawrence Frank, the rookie head coach has gotten a feel for the reigns. The Nets’ effort has improved dramatically, and the team actually improved in the standings following the loss of center Brook Lopez.
The Nets return to action Thursday night when they welcome the banged-up San Antonio Spurs to the Barclays Center. Pierce certainly expects a better close against a bigger challenge.
“A win is a win, but we can’t be happy with the way we closed the game,” Pierce said. “If we play like that come Thursday, then we can’t expect to walk away with a win.”