Lawrence Frank still is helping the Nets.
Replacing Doc Rivers on the Celtics’ bench last night because of a throat procedure, Frank guided Boston to a 107-92 victory over his old team in the Nets’ preseason finale. It matched Frank’s win total with the Nets last preseason and through the first 16 games before his dismissal.
Frank played Boston’s main guys relatively regular minutes and they put on a clinic against the Nets that undoubtedly will be shown to them during a film session with coach Avery Johnson. You know: things to do (Boston) and things not to do (Nets).
We’re not suggesting Frank, the Nets' all-time NBA leader in coaching victories, did it for New Jersey. It probably was Doc’s orders, but the Nets should be appreciative.
The third quarter was an absolute work of art by the Celtics.
They pushed the ball, beat the Nets down the floor, out-hustled them, racking up 36 points. How good did Shaq, Rondo, Pierce, Allen and KG look? Clearly, the Celtics are a far superior team. Any team can learn from them. But Johnson couldn’t have been happy that the gray-bearded Celtics were out-running and out-working the Nets.
It’s good this happened to the Nets in their final tune up. They need to understand they will rarely, if ever, have more talent than their opponent so they always have to work hard, rotate, get back on defense.
It probably wouldn’t have made a difference if Brook Lopez and Jordan Farmar weren’t held out for rest. The Celtics turned it up in the third quarter and there was no looking back.
It probably was a good thing that Lopez and Farmar sat. It gave guys who hadn’t received many minutes a chance to get some run.
Derrick Favors, after another foul-plagued first half, played 24 minutes and led the Nets with 16 points. Backup center Johan Petro played 24 minutes. Kris Humphries 30, Damion James almost 20 and Ben Uzoh 17.
Some of these guys won’t be in the regular rotation or on the team if the deal for Carmelo Anthony ever goes through. The Nets are persistant, still trying to get Anthony from the Nuggets. But Johnson has to prepare as if they will be here and any work Favors gets is important.
Any work the Nets get is important, too.
Johnson was happy with the Nets’ defense the two games in China, as they gave up an average of 93 to the Rockets. But in back-to-back nights back in the states, the Nets yielded 224 points total to the Knicks and Celtics.
That’s bad defense, even by preseason standards and defense has been the thing Johnson has stressed the most.
The guess here is when the Nets return to practice Friday, Johnson will drill home the importance of defense, hammer them with it and try to get them to realize they have no shot at winning if they play this way.
You don’t want to go overboard because it is only the preseason; the Nets have 12 new players and they just got home from an around-the-world trip that started in Newark, took them to Russia, Beijing and Guangzhou, China, Anchorage, Alaska and back home.
But it’s not a good thing that their last four preseason performances weren’t as good as their first four. They’re supposed to get better. In some areas they have, but they still have plenty of work to do to get ready for their Oct. 27 opener against the Pistons.
By the way, it was pretty ironic that Frank coached against the Nets. The only thing that would have been more ironic was if Frank coached against Kiki Vandeweghe.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)