The Brooklyn Nets‘ seven-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night, when they lost to the Indiana Pacers, 114-106. That wasn’t the only bad news for Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. The second-year coach was ejected with just over a minute to play in the game and has now been fined $25,000 for “verbally abusing” referees.
After Rodions Kurucs was called for a foul on Darren Collison on a fast break, an irate Atkinson immediately left the bench area to confront one of the referees, Tony Brothers. He was quickly tossed from the game, but not before he got in some more choice words for the refs as he was held back by two assistant coaches.
After the game, Atkinson took full responsibility, saying he needs to be “mentally stronger.” Via ESPN:
“We’ve just got to be mentally stronger, and I’ve got to be mentally stronger, fighting through those situations,” Atkinson said of his ejection. “Just frustration on my part. I have to coach myself. I don’t love that scene out there. That’s not what I’m there for. I’m not here to make a show. So I apologize for that. That’s not who I am. But it happens in this league sometimes with the emotion and intensity of the game.”
Atkinson will have another opportunity to show his mental toughness on Sunday evening when his Nets host the Phoenix Suns in their final game before the Christmas holiday (6 p.m. ET — Watch on FuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension).
In his second year in charge of the Nets’ rebuild, Atkinson has the team not only playing hard, but on the cusp of the playoff picture — something the Nets haven’t come close to reaching since 2015. Even after the loss to the Pacers, the Nets are just one game out of eighth place in the East.
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