by Alex Sims, November 14, 2012
Deron Williams has spoken often early this season about finding a rhythm with backcourt mate Joe Johnson and the success that would follow.
On Tuesday night, Brooklyn's Backcourt clicked.
D-Will paved the path with his second double-double of the season, posting 26 points, 10 assists, a pair of rebounds and a steal. Johnson followed suit, netting 25 points, six dimes, five boards, a block and a steal of his own.
Neither of the All-Star guards had tipped the 20-point threshold in Brooklyn's first five contests, but the Nets needed both members of the dynamic duo to do so in order to secure a 114-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Barclays Center on Tuesday.
"It definitely felt like we played better together today," D-Will said. "We both got going today which was good, so hopefully we can continue to make improvements. Me and him have been talking a lot the last couple of days trying to get each other going and find out where, you know, our spots are on the court."
It was only a matter of time before the tandem took form, because the two have so much respect for each other and have been working overtime to make it work.
— Dr.Rey™ (@RayontheCrayon) November 14, 2012
Johnson lauded Deron's play on Tuesday and finished saying that more big games are sure to come from this prolific pair.
"Deron did a great job getting into the teeth of the defense, finding his shot, getting into a rhythm. He just opened it up for guys like myself," Johnson said. "So I'm sure you'll see a lot more of that. Like I've said, when this thing comes together it's going to be fun to watch…I'm sure (Tuesday night) was the vision everybody had. And I'm sure it won't be the last time you'll see it."
It wasn't easy for Brooklyn on Tuesday night, however. The Nets had to withstand a monster performance from Cleveland's Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving to win their third straight game. Varejao had a game-high 35 points and 18 rebounds and Irving added 34 points and eight assists.
Despite the production from the Cavs pick-and-roll duo, Brooklyn built a 22-point halftime lead that would prove to be insurmountable. That lead came thanks to a huge second quarter, in which the Nets shot 62 percent from the floor.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are the best backcourt on the NBA, I don't care what anyone says
— Stephen Hudock (@stephen_hudock) November 14, 2012
The Cavs were able to battle back within 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter, but D-Will and Johnson would take it from there. Johnson had 16 of his points in that final frame, including two threes off feeds from Deron.
No. 8 indulged in the backcourt success, but commented after the game that he'd still like to see a more well-rounded performance from his team going forward.
"You don't want to have to rely on just one or two guys every night," Williams said. "You want to have a collective night. We can all have 15, and we'll be happy with that if we win. It's not like we're shooting for a goal ... we just want to contribute and play well together."
While the offense ran on all cylinders, Brooklyn struggled defensively yet again on Tuesday. They allowed Cleveland to surpass the 100-point mark, thanks to season-highs in scoring from the team's two stars Irving and Varejao—an unfortunate truth that is apparently causing head coach Avery Johnson precious sleep time each night.
"We won the game, but they scored 60 points in the paint," Johnson said. "I'm probably going to lose one hour of sleep tonight so I'm probably going to sleep four hours tonight. I'll sleep four because we won the game. Had they not scored 60 points in the game, maybe five."
Though the defense still has a long way to go, Deron was proud of the way his team weathered the storm and handled the scoring barrage brought on by the Cavs.
"Every team is going to make some kind of run and we were able to withstand it," he said. "It still got kind of close, a little too close for comfort. When we had to we got stops and we were able to get it back up. In the end we won and we were able to withstand their run."
D-Will and the Nets (4-2) will look to continue their hot streak on Thursday when they host the five-time defending Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics (4-3).
Deron will take on yet another elite point guard in this contest in Boston's Rajon Rondo. The sixth-year man out of Kentucky has averaged 15.4 points, 13 assists and five rebounds per game this year.
Last season D-Will and the Nets did a solid job of holding Rondo in check, as he averaged less than nine points per contest. However, he did average 13 assists as the Celtics swept the Nets 3-0 in the season series. No. 8 averaged 12 points and 11 assists in two games against Boston last season.
Brooklyn will also be looking to avenge a 115-85 preseason loss to the Celtics almost one month ago.
"The Celtics got us good in the preseason," Johnson said. "So I'm sure we'll come out in this regular-season game and try to hit first, and be the better team."
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game can be seen nationally on TNT.
- Deron Williams, Nets beat Cavaliers for third straight win (ESPN.com, November 13, 2012)
- A Win Reveals Some of the Nets' Weaknesses (New York Times, November 14, 2012)
- Williams, Johnson combine to push Nets past Cavs (New York Daily News, November 13, 2012)
- Joe Johnson scores 25 as Nets drub Cavs (Newsday, November 13, 2012)
- Nets guards help prevent another late collapse in win over Cleveland (New York Post, November 13, 2012)
- Nets backups protect the rim after starters fail (New York Daily News, November 14, 2012)