by Jordan Garretson, January 03, 2012
With the first week of the 2011-2012 season in the books, one of the brightest spots so far has been the developing bond between Deron Williams and rookie MarShon Brooks.
D-Will and the rookie shooting guard worked well together on Monday night, combining for 43 of the Nets' points in a 108-94 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Coach Avery Johnson was encouraged by the effort of both players in his backcourt.
"You saw he and Deron working together, working some two-man game," Johnson said. "[MarShon is] skilled offensively. That's a bright spot. Deron really did some nice things for us. That's a backcourt, eventually, that is going to be starting for us… Those are things we need to look forward to."
Deron led the Nets with 22 points on Monday and added eight assists. But beyond numbers were the things he did to help the rookie Brooks have an outstanding game. Brooks said D-Will found him in the right spots and continues to help him grasp the offense.
"Deron found me on a couple of threes and once that happened, I started playing more aggressive," Brooks said. "He just walks me through the little things, x's and o's, plays after timeouts, little coverages and defenses. If I've made a mistake that he's seen, he'll bring it to me."
All 21 of MarShon's points came with Deron on the floor. D-Will said after the game that the two utilized pick and rolls to expose mismatches with the Pacers.
"We work well out there together. That'll just continue to develop. He's a special young player, has a chance to be a really good pro. He works hard and he's eager to learn," Deron said. "He has a lot of confidence in his ability. He's one of those guys, it doesn't matter if he plays five minutes or plays 30, he's going to be ready to go in. That's really good, especially for a rookie."
Injuries to New Jersey's frontline left most of the team's scoring responsibilities on the backcourt duo, as detailed in the Newark Star-Ledger:
"Already burdened with the absence of Brook Lopez, they also had to play tonight without Kris Humphries, who missed the game due to a shoulder injury. That put a significant weight on the shoulders of Williams."
Deron responded strongly, knocking down 6-of-14 shots despite suffering an apparent injury in the second quarter. The Record's Andy Vasquez recounted the scary collision between D-Will and Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough:
"With 5:13 remaining in the first half, Williams drove to the basket and was fouled hard by Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough. Williams fell to the floor under the basket, grabbing his right side. The Rock went silent as Nets trainers hurried to Williams and Johnson walked briskly across the court to check on his superstar.
"You saw me on one knee, right?" Johnson said, when asked what went through his mind when Williams went down. "Yeah, OK. That'll tell you right there."
After a few tense moments, Williams indicated he was OK and Johnson helped him to his feet. Williams walked gingerly across the floor to the Nets huddle, but returned to shoot the free throws after a timeout."
No. 8 sank both free-throw attempts, just two of a season-high nine makes on 11 attempts from the charity stripe Monday. Deron was aggressive in getting to the basket early in the game and the hard foul from Hansbrough didn't discourage him from going back at the rack. Four of his six buckets came at the rim and No. 8 also drew four shooting fouls on drives to the basket.
"I played the rest of the game," Deron said of the pain he felt after the hit from Hansbrough. "I'm fine."
At halftime D-Will had 13 points on 3-of-6 from the field and 6-of-7 at the line as the Nets trailed Indiana by just six, 48-42, at the break. But despite nine more points from No. 8 in the second half, the Pacers pulled away, led by nine second-half threes on 11 attempts (82 percent). Deron said the Nets need to do a better job of running the Pacers teams off the three-point line.
"These are teams that play like that," he said of Indiana and Cleveland, the previous night's opponent. "We knew that coming into this game. Coach said it right before the game, that it was going to be similar stuff, a lot of lifted four-man, guys that can shoot."
As for the 22 points and the improved shooting numbers, they were of little consolation to No. 8 on Monday night.
I got a couple more easy baskets today. But as long as we're losing, I'm not doing enough," he said. "It's just another loss. I want to get a win."
Deron and the Nets get a much-needed Tuesday off, ending a grueling stretch of six games in eight days to start the season. D-Will said the span was like nothing he's ever experienced in his career.
"I don't think I've ever played six in eight," he said. "Five in eight. Four in five. But it's part of the schedule. We had the lockout and now we're paying for it."
The Nets' rest is, however, brief and they'll be heading up to Boston to play the Celtics on Wednesday night. New Jersey won the last meeting between the two teams, 88-79, last March 14 on the strength of D-Will's 16 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and three steals.
Tip-off of Wednesday's Atlantic Division showdown is scheduled for 7:30 EST and the game can be seen on YES.