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DENVER – Jason Kidd has never shied away from the fact that he is a rookie coach, one that is going to learn as he goes along.
How’s this for lessons learned:
After a brutal 124-80 loss Wednesday night to the Trail Blazers in Portland, Kidd tried a new tact at Thursday’s film session. It led to one of the great turnarounds in NBA history.
One night after losing by 40-plus points, the Nets became just the second team in NBA history to win by 20-plus points the following night, crushing the undermanned Denver Nuggets, 112-89, in the Pepsi Center.
The blowout loss provided the fire.
The film session provided the focus.
The Nuggets provided the fodder.
Kidd often paused the film of the Portland loss – a horror flick that showed breakdowns that led to uncontested dunks and wide-open jumpers on defense and disarray on offense – and asked his players these questions:
Where were you? What were you thinking? How did that happen?
“Jason chewed us out about [Wednesday] night, about the poor performance defensively and us not moving the ball offensively," Joe Johnson said. "And, as you can see tonight, guys came out with a different attitude.’’
Shaun Livingston said it wasn’t as much of a chew-out as a challenge. He said about five players responded to Kidd’s questions.
“He wanted our input,’’ said Livingston. “He wanted to know where we were, why did certain things happen. Jason’s consistent. He doesn’t yell one night and talk the next. But you could tell he was not happy with our performance in Portland. No one was happy.’’
The leaders led the way, not with stats but with actions and words of action.
Kevin Garnett told Kidd after the Portland loss he wanted to play in the second of back-to-back games. Kidd, trying to have KG healthy and rested for the playoffs, has limited KG in back-to-backs.
Garnett told the media after the Portland game that such a loss at this point of the season is unacceptable.
“He’s a character guy,’’ Kidd said of KG. “We didn’t play at the level we wanted to in Portland. I think for him, he’s a competitor and he wants to get things going back in the right direction.’’
The Nets (27-29) held the Nuggets (25-32) to eight points in the first quarter, taking a 21-point lead and never looking back.
The eight points are the fewest scored in the first quarter by any team in the NBA this season. And they are the fewest a Nets opponent has scored in the first quarter since the Utah Jazz scored seven in December of 2008.
Paul Pierce and Deron Williams echoed KG’s feelings. They were not alone.
All 13 Nets that played scored. The Nets led 59-36 at halftime, matching their largest halftime lead of the season.
Pierce led the Nets with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Newly-acquired Marcus Thornton scored 10.
As embarrassing as the Portland loss was, the Nets have an excellent chance to close this road trip with a 4-2 record.
They play the Bucks in Milwaukee Saturday night. Milwaukee (11-46) has the worst record in the NBA.
A win against the Bucks and the Nets, playing their first game in Barclays Center since Feb. 12 when they beat the Charlotte Bobcats, will have a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 5.