Williams' 11 3s surge Nets past Wizards
Williams set a Nets franchise record with 11 three-pointers - just one shy of tying the NBA single-game record - and finished with a line of 42 points, five assists, and three rebounds in leading Brooklyn to a 95-78 win over the Washington Wizards at Barclays Center.
The Nets led wire-to-wire, and it was Williams' night from the word go; he hit his first eight three-point attempts on the night, had 18 points within the first five minutes, and brought the Barclays Center crowd to their feet every time he touched the ball…well, almost.
"I thought they were going to boo me at one point," Williams joked after the game, "when I brought the ball across and may have had a shot but I gave it Joe (Johnson)…it was kind of like the crowd went 'awwww' at that point."
That aside, Williams truly could do no wrong, and when the whirlwind of the first 12 minutes was over, he had seven triples and 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting overall and the Nets had a 38-14 lead.
"I just got hot," Williams told Sarah Kustok after the final buzzer. "I wanted to come out here and make shots, and I was feeling good, so I just kept going."
Williams made his first three-point attempt of the second before finally missing, but did hit a ninth later in the quarter to give him the NBA record for threes in a half and tie what was Vince Carter's Nets franchise record for triples in one game.
"I was happy…he was unbelievable," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Williams' first half, before admitting he was actually concerned about the hot start. "I hate that lead; if you asked me if I had the choice to be ahead 10-0 or behind 10-0 I'd pick behind…usually you get that lead and it goes away, but he just kept making shot after shot after shot and got us such a cushion that the rest of the game just played out."
The Nets' lead was 26 at the half and got as high as 28, but the Wizards made a game of it in the second half by finally keeping Williams in check; Washington allowed him just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, and they would cut the lead back to 13 as late as the fourth quarter.
"In the second half they did a good job doubling me and forcing me to give the ball up," Williams said, "but my teammates were in the right place for me."
And in the end, Williams had the second-highest scoring output of his career in what he called "one of the best games I've ever had shooting the basketball," and the Nets held on for the victory.
Thanks to the hot shooting night, Williams is now 35-of-66 (53 percent) from behind the arc since the All-Star Break, and Carlesimo credits that hot shooting in part to Deron's decision to undergo treatment on his ankles right before All-Star Game.
"He's not pain free, but he seems to be in a better place physically than he was before the break," Carlesimo said. "I think that he and (Nets trainer) Timmy Walsh's decision to shut it down those last two games and get the treatment seems to have really paid off."
Williams wasn't the only Net to have a career night, however; Reggie Evans finished with a double-double of 11 points and 24 rebounds, setting a new career high on the boards, and even got the crowd into it as he became the target of a "Hack-a-Reggie" philosophy at the end and ende dup shooting 16 second-half free throws. Evans made just five of those, to which Carlesimo said afterward that "even if the numbers don't show it, he's shooting his free throws better," and Williams admitted that by the final buzzer, it was No. 30 who was No. 1 in the crowd's heart.
"When Reggie was shooting those free throws…the crowd was louder for that one," he said.
"It was exciting; I was happy…I was enjoying the moment whether I missed or made it," Evans added. "(The fans) know I'm a poor free-throw shooter, so they just wanted to see me make it."
All fun aside, Williams and Evans were happiest that the Nets snapped their three-game home skid.
"The main thing was, I knew how bad we needed a win at home, so I wanted to come out aggressive," Williams said, with Evans adding that "we've been letting our fans down at home so we just wanted to come out and be aggressive…and Deron, he was like fish grease man."
There was one negative P.J. Carlesimo did touch on, however, and that was the Wizards' late comeback that didn't allow him to give his core any rest in what was the first half of a back-to-back.
"Our second group's got to give us more, and we didn't do a very good job playing with a 20-point lead," Carlesimo said. "We're not so good that we can walk away from a win, but we'd like to have finished it better than we did; more than any other reason, it didn't let us rest starters as much as we could've and that's disappointing."
They won't have long to think about it, however, as the Nets headed out immediately after the game to board a flight to Atlanta, where they will play that second half of the back-to-back against the Hawks on Saturday night.
The Nets have struggled in back-to-back situations this season and are 0-8 when the second half is on the road, and Williams agreed with his coach's feelings that more rest is never a bad thing.
"Going up 25 in that third quarter," Williams said, "this is the type of game we have to put away early, and we just didn't do a good job of that."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES