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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett show frustration with Nets’ lack of heart

12.27.13 at 8:13 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Senators at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Wizards at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Northern Kentucky at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Lafayette at Seton Hall, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College football: Military Bowl, Marshall vs. Maryland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Texas Bowl, Syracuse vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College football: Fight Hunger Bowl, BYU vs. Washington, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
Speedskating: U.S. Olympic trials, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Paul Pierce helped the Nets past the Clippers on Thursday for Brooklyn's third straight win. (AP)

The Nets‘ lack of mental toughness is not sitting well with Paul Pierce. (AP)

– The hope in Brooklyn was that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would provide veteran leadership and toughness to lift the Nets into the realm of the NBA elite. That plan has gone awry, and the two ex-Celtics are showing their frustration with the team’s lack of heart.

“You can say what you want about individuals or certain people being mentally tough, but it has to be everybody,” Pierce said. “I can’€™t speak for everybody all the time. If this was an individual sport, I could speak for myself. But you know, some people respond to adversity different, no matter who is around or who says anything to them.”

Following Wednesday’s 95-78 loss to the Bulls — which came two days after coach Jason Kidd called out his team for “getting very close to accepting losing” following a blowout loss to the Pacers — Kidd reportedly lit into his team in the locker room, with Garnett adding some choice words as well.

Kidd benched players during Wednesday’s game for lazy defense, but it wasn’t enough to turn things around.

“We’ve got to keep fighting, keep grinding, and as a staff and players we need to keep moving forward, and right now we are not,” Kidd said.

Said guard Deron Williams: “I’m even surprised with this season, how it’s played out. It’s like a nightmare. The way the injuries have been and the things we talk about every day; the lack of energy, the lack of effort. I didn’t see that as being a problem when we put this team together.”

The Nets will be hard-pressed to start turning things around soon, as they face seven teams with winning records over their next 10 games, including the Pacers, Spurs and Thunder on the road, and the Warriors and Heat at home. Even in the woeful Atlantic Division, the Nets face a challenge to climb back to relevancy.

“Well, our record shows we’re not a good team right now,” Pierce said. “When you’re 9-19, you have a lot of work to do. Our goal is still to improve, but when you’re 9-19, your record speaks for itself.”

LeBron James was named The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday after leading the Heat to their second straight NBA title while winning his fourth MVP award. Tennis star Serena Williams was named the Female Athlete of the Year a day earlier.

James received 31 of 96 votes to out-poll Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (20) and race-car driver Jimmy Johnson (7). He’s the third NBA payer to be so honored, joining Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

“I don’t think I’ve changed much this year,” James said. “I’ve just improved and continued to improve on being more than just a basketball player. I’ve matured as a leader, as a father, as a husband, as a friend.”

Added James: “I’m chasing something and it’s bigger than me as a basketball player. I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people. Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero … those things mean so much, and that’s what I think I was built for. I was put here for this lovely game of basketball, but I don’t think this is the biggest role that I’m going to have.”

– The NBA on Thursday baked up Clippers star Blake Griffin‘s assertion that he should not have been ejected from Wednesday’s 105-103 loss to the Warriors. Griffin was involved in separate confrontations with Draymond Green (who was fined $15,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner after he was ejected for elbowing Griffin) and Andrew Bogut, and while both Warriors players were given flagrant fouls, Griffin was assessed a technical each time for fighting back, and that caused his ejection.

“After a league review of the Clippers-Warriors game, we have come to the conclusion that Blake Griffin should not have been ejected from the game,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said. “A common foul should have been called on Griffin for initially attempting to dislodge the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and a technical foul should have been assessed to Bogut for grabbing Griffin by the shirt and wrestling with him.”

Griffin voiced his dissatisfaction after the game, implying that the Warriors knew what they were doing.

“If you look at it, I didn’t do anything and I got thrown out of the game. It all boils down to [the referees] fell for it,” Griffin said Wednesday night. “To me, it’s cowardly basketball. I don’t know their intentions, but it worked. … If I knew the answer I’d probably be in a different position. Tonight I got two technicals for nothing.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 27, 1956, which Celtics player had his consecutive free throw streak ended at 55 — an NBA record that stood for 19 years?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is a fun day for me, but I think the focus needs to be on this game and the opportunity we have to win the division.” – Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, after being cleared to return from an eight-week absence due to a collarbone injury and play in Sunday’s game against the Bears that will decide the NCF North champion

STAT OF THE DAY: 30 – ACL injuries in the NFL from the preseason through the first 13 weeks of the regular season, according to research by the league, down from 39 such injuries one year ago and the lowest number in at least four years

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Hawks guard Jeff Teague nails a long 3-pointer to send Thursday’s game against the Cavaliers into double overtime …

… then gets a fortuitous roll to beat the Cavaliers at the buzzer at the end of the second OT.

Snowboarder Shaun White shows off his newest trick.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Bill Sharman

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Tracey Nelson was born on this day in 1944.

Read More: Blake Griffin, Jason Kidd, kevin garnett, LeBron James