NBA PLAYOFFS Coach comes to Jason Kidd's defense

Lawrence Frank said the point guard healed from injuries.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- After Jason Kidd went on the injured list in mid-March, New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank had serious doubts his All-Star point guard would play again this season.
Frank came to Kidd's defense on Saturday, just two days after Kidd was held scoreless as the Nets lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Detroit Pistons.
"Jason played when many wouldn't," Frank said after the Nets held their final team meeting. "He left himself vulnerable, in terms of people questioning his play, and yet never said anything about it. I think that says a lot about his character, that he isn't using anything as an excuse."
Kidd averaged 10.1 points against the Pistons and shot 28.4 percent, a dismal effort even for a point guard who is known more for creating for his teammates than for scoring.
Frank said Kidd's left knee was so painful in the postseason, he hurt his back trying to compensate.
Kidd went on the injured list after a regular-season game against the Pistons. After doctors looked at his MRI shortly after that game, surgery was an option, Frank noted.
Kidd opted for rest and had his knee treated with acupuncture.
"Jason went through every avenue you could to try to help the team, because he knew if he had surgery, he would be done and there would be no way he could help the team," Frank said.
On Saturday, Kidd refused to say specifically what was wrong with his knee, but said another MRI was planned for next week. He said if he needed surgery, he would get it, just like he did on his ankle a couple of years ago.
"I am going to spend more time on the beach and relax," Kidd said. "I haven't had any time off. I had to do the pre-Olympic thing last year. My body and mind has not had a rest since. "
Deflects criticism
Kidd said the criticism directed at him after the two-time defending conference champions lost Game 7 didn't bother him.
"You have to realize we started at ground zero here and we have built something special here," said Kidd, who helped turn an also-ran into a contender after arriving two years ago. "We are not going to let one game affect what we are trying to do, which is win a championship."
Both Frank and power forward Kenyon Martin, who will be a restricted free agent in the off-season, said they wanted to be back next season.
The Nets have until the end of June to pick up the option on Frank's contract. He guided the team to a 25-15 mark after taking over from Byron Scott.
Frank said Saturday he would accept whatever the Nets offered.
"I love to coach and I love our guys," Frank said.
"This is what you want to do for the rest of your life."
Martin said his contract is in the hands of the Nets. If they make a fair offer when they have the exclusive rights to negotiate with him in early July, he said he would not explore free agency.
"This is my No. 1 choice, to be back here," said Martin, who earned his first All-Star berth this season. "I love it here, but this is out of my control."
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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