by Alex Sims, November 26, 2012
Two days after a dominant defensive performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets doubled up on D against the Portland Trailblazers.
D-Will played a big part in the defensive showing with a one-man block party, posting a career-high four blocks to go along with his fifth double-double of the season (15 PTS, 12 AST), three steals and two boards as the Nets defeated Portland 98-85. After the win, No. 8 credited head coach Avery Johnson’s work with the team at defending the pick and roll—a noted weakness of this squad entering the season.
"Coach puts an emphasis on chasing the pick and rolls, meaning after I’m fighting over the pick, not giving up on the play," he said. "That’s just what I did today. I was following the [play] and was able to get a couple blocks."
To claim their second straight victory, Brooklyn had to overcome a strong start by Portland, a situation the Nets had struggled to overcome in prior games. Brooklyn was able to hang close to the Trail Blazers early, thanks to a hot start from Joe Johnson, who tallied a game-high 17 first-half points, leading him to finish with 21—his second-highest scoring total of the season.
"He did a great job of getting himself going today," D-Will said of Johnson. "He wasn’t settling. He was taking the ball to the basket for the floaters and he just looks like he’s getting into a better rhythm. We definitely need that from him. We need Joe to be our number one option. Him and Brook are 1a and 1b, as coach likes to say. We want to get those guys going early and just ride with those guys."
After his strong start, the Portland defense began to key in on the Brooklyn shooting guard, allowing for a dominant second half performance by D-Will.
"He just opens up things for everybody. They have to pay a lot more attention to him. He draws a lot of double teams, especially when he’s in the post, and he’s a willing passer. It makes the game easier for everybody."
Deron had 12 points and seven dimes in the second half, more than any other player on the floor as he utilized all of the options around him to turn in a complete game. Five Brooklyn players finished in double figures, including both of the team’s starting big men.
"It definitely is great to have the weapons and the options out there," D-Will said. "The floor is so much more spread this year. We’re getting better at spreading the floor and it’s just easier to operate."
At the height of an 11-2 Brooklyn run, Deron found his backcourt teammate Johnson who finished with a floater in the lane to give the Nets a nine-point fourth-quarter lead. A few minutes later, Johnson returned the favor, dishing to D-Will who drove a three-point nail into the Portland coffin to give Brooklyn a 12-point lead.
"We’re closing out ballgames, which was a problem early on for us. We’ve done a better job coming down the stretch, especially defensively, of locking up and getting stops."
On Monday night, the Nets (8-4) will have a chance to reach first place with a win over their Atlantic Division rival New York Knicks (9-3).
The game will mark the long-awaited beginning of the Nets-Knicks New York rivalry. The game was was originally expected to take place on Nov. 1 as the season opener for both squads, but that contest was postponed by Hurricane Sandy.
Now that it will finally take place, D-Will sees this game as crucial early-season matchup with one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
"That’s why it’s a big game," he said. "Not just because it’s the Knicks, but because it’s the Knicks and they have the best record in the East and they’re a tough team."
Against the Knicks last season, D-Will had two outstanding games. In the first, he finished with 21 points, 11 dimes and six rebounds. Then, just 16 days later, Deron notched 38 points, 6 assists and four boards. In both of those contests, No. 8 was matched up with former Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.
On Monday, he will be pitted against a very familiar foe in Knicks point guard Raymond Felton. While at Illinois, D-Will squared off with Felton in the 2005 national title game, with Felton’s North Carolina squad emerging victorious.
"It’s going to be a good matchup. I’ve always enjoyed playing against Ray," Deron said. "He’s a tough competitor. He plays the game the right way. I’ve known him since high school. We were in the same class coming out of high school. Came out together in college, we have the same birthday. I like playing against Ray."
Deron and the Nets will hope to feed off a raucous atmosphere at the Barclays Center during a game that was originally designed to be the team’s coming out party, but not serves as a barometer of their progress thus far in the season.
"I look forward to every game. But I think it will be a great atmosphere. A lot of the fans are looking forward to this game and obviously we are too. It’s going to hopefully be a great rivalry for years to come. This is the first game against them in the new building. And it’s the makeup game for [opening night] so there will definitely be a lot of excitement in the building."
The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. EST and will air nationally on TNT.
- Another strong fourth quarter carries Nets (New York Post, November 26, 2012)
- Deron Williams doesn't acknowledge arm injuries (NY Daily News, November 26, 2012)
- Brooklyn Nets tune-up for showdown with Knicks, beat Blazers (NY Daily News, November 26, 2012)
- Deron Williams, Joe Johnson lead Nets past Blazers (Newsday, November 26, 2012)
- Johnson helps Nets beat Trail Blazers (Associated Press, November 25, 2012)
- Nets take advantage of short-handed Trail Blazers (New York Times, November 26, 2012)
- Avery Johnson: D-Will is banged up (ESPN New York, November 25, 2012)