Nets’ Jacque Vaughn Sounds Off on Nic Claxton: ‘I Warned Him’

Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets were outscored 21-10 after Nic Claxton was ejected for taunting Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid leading to a 102-87 loss and a commanding 3-0 Philly edge in the series.

“He and I conversated after the first tech[nical foul],” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said via the YES Network on YouTube on April 20. “I warned him no hanging on the rim, no extra stuff that could get him kicked out. Just because I knew and kind of felt the environment that the game was heading towards.”

Claxton was whistled for his first technical foul less than three minutes into the game. After catching a lob and finishing over Embiid, Claxton stared down the fallen Sixer and proceeded to step over him, receiving a kick to the groin area from Embiid for his troubles.

Both players remained in the game, much to the dismay of Vaughn.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in my career before,” he said. “For a guy to intentionally kick someone in an area that none of us want to be kicked at or towards, and for him to continue to play. I’ve never seen that before. In a game and a guy continues to play – intentional.”

Vaughn has previously lamented the non-calls on Embiid in this series citing missed travels and 3-second violations.

Claxton also thought this set of calls would go a little differently.

“I thought he was going to be kicked out the game,” he told reporters. “But they said it was a Flagrant 1. So, it is what it is. It’s not my job to referee. … It’s just all a part of the game. I just gotta control what I can control Honestly, as a competitor, I was glad he stayed in the game so I could match up and have some good reps against him.”

The game was intense throughout with Sixers star James Harden also getting ejected, but for an errant forearm into the lower region of Nets forward Royce O’Neale.

Claxton’s second tech again came on a play against Embiid with the former delivering a stardown drawing the ire of referee Tony Brothers and getting sent to the locker room for the remainder of a pivotal Game 3.

Nic Claxton: ‘I Gotta Keep My Emotions In Check’

“Yeah, when I watched it, it was a little excessive,” Claxton said of his taunt. “I gotta keep my emotions in check. My team, they need me out there. So it’s a part of my growth just keeping my cool in moments like that when I’m playing well and my emotions are high. So I gotta look in the mirror and just be smarter in those situations.”

The fourth-year big man finished with 18 points, a high in the series for the NBA’s regular-season leader in field goal percentage, on 8-for-9 shooting.

He was held to five points in Game 1 and went scoreless in Game 2.

“He played unbelievable for us,” Vaughn said. “I think eight [minutes] and some change, he gets kicked out. And that’s what we’re going to grow from. I told the group they didn’t give up, they grew up tonight. And so, whether that is Nic understanding how important he is to us…it’s an opportunity for him to grow up which is great.”

However, he was only able to haul in four rebounds continuing an ongoing issue for the Nets who were minus-12 on the glass, outscored by seven points in second-chance points, and outdone by six points in the paint.

Brooklyn is averaging 12.7 fewer boards and, not coincidentally, 12.3 fewer points per game than Philadelphia in the series.

Nets Looking to Make History

If the Nets can come back and win this series, they would be the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit, per Land Of Basketball. What’s more, they are now 0-7 against the Sixers in the regular season and playoffs.

Typically a good omen for teams looking for some sort of spark, the Nets went just 7-8 at home in the Barclays Center.

They are going to have to dig deep to avoid getting swept for the second year in a row.