by Jordan Garretson, March 05, 2012
After Deron Williams fired off just nine shots on Friday night in Boston, Nets coach Avery Johnson said he wanted his star point guard to be more aggressive.
On Sunday night in Charlotte, D-Will showed exactly why.
Deron exploded for not only the best scoring night in the NBA this season, but one of the best individual efforts in recent memory, scoring 57 points in only 38 minutes as he led the Nets to a 104-101 road win over the Bobcats.
D-Will's performance left teammates in awe. Speaking to the Star-Ledger after the game, Anthony Morrow called his teammate a future Hall of Famer:
"That was like incredible…I was speechless. Just glad to be a part of history," Morrow said. "It's just great to have that kind of superstar on your team, future Hall of Famer."
Watch every one of Deron's makes from the field below:
The 57 points shattered Deron's previous career-high of 42 and were not only the most ever scored by a Net in the NBA, they also set an NBA season high. No NBA player has scored more points in a single game in the last three years. The last to do so was Kobe Bryant, who scored 61 at the expense of the New York Knicks on February 2, 2009.
"Saw T-Mac do 60-something in Orlando against the Wizards. Saw Gilbert give somebody 60 in L.A. This is up there. I'd say top three ever in my life," DeShawn Stevenson said. "He just kept making shots over and over. I could see it in his eyes ... This seemed like 60. It was loud. Hitting threes, and-ones, post-ups, fall aways, buzzers."
In addition, D-Will also recorded seven rebounds and six assists, completing one of the most dominant stat lines of the NBA season. The opponent offered perhaps the best assessment of Deron's brilliance, as Bobcats forward Corey Maggette told the New York Post:
"There was nothing really we could do," said Maggette, whose team-high 24 points were nearly doubled by Deron.
Sunday wasn't just one of those high-volume scoring nights either. In fact, D-Will took just 29 shots to reach his total.
And because of yet another poor first half, the Nets needed every single one of Deron's 57 to escape Charlotte with a victory.
The Bobcats did their best to break the game open in the first half. Deron scored 10 in the first quarter to keep the team afloat and the Nets trailed by just three after one. But with D-Will on the bench to start the second, that deficit was extended to double-digits.
He checked back in with 6:06 to go in the half, but Charlotte was on a roll and took a 16-point lead when D.J. Augustin's layup put them in front 53-37 with 2:14 left in the second quarter.
"That first half was pretty pitiful from an all-around standpoint," Deron told the Star-Ledger. "We really couldn't get much going, and defensively we were bad."
But Deron made the right plays in the final two minutes of the half, orchestrating an 8-0 run to help New Jersey survive.
First he assisted on a Morrow jumper to cut the deficit to 14. Then, on the next NJ possession, he earned a trip to the line and sank both freebies to bring the Nets within 13.
Kris Humphries split a pair of free throws to make an 11-point game with 55.7 seconds to go before the break and Deron closed the half with a trey, trimming the deficit to 53-45 at halftime.
The late burst carried over seamlessly into the second half and Deron said he tried to be a "little bit more aggressive."
Translation: he completely dominated.
The Nets pulled within six just 31 seconds into the second half on a Lopez bank shot off a D-Will feed, but moments later Lopez turned his ankle and went to the locker room, leaving Deron to shoulder the scoring load once again. But, as he has so many times this season for New Jersey, D-Will delivered, putting the Nets on his back and carrying them for the rest of the game.
The All-Star point guard scored 18 straight points at one point and tallied 22 of New Jersey's 28 points in the quarter. Deron recognized his hot hand and capitalized:
"When you're hot, you kinda just gotta go with it," he said. "I was able to create my own offense."
Deron's heroics lifted the Nets to a 73-72 lead by the end of the third. But he wasn't done yet — not even close. He scored 18 more in the fourth quarter, meaning 40 of his 57 points came in the second half alone.
He was especially magnificent at the free-throw line, going 21-of-21 from the line — the second-most makes without a miss in NBA history. And no two were more clutch than the pair he sank with 20 seconds to go.
The Bobcats mounted a rally in the final seconds, cutting the Nets lead from seven — after D-Will 21st free throw — to two. Turnovers and a missed MarShon Brooks free throw with 1.7 ticks to go left the door open for Charlotte. But Augustin missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game and the Nets walked away with the win. For Deron, the final score was more important than his individual stardom he told the YES Network:
"I'm just happy we got the win," he said. "Fifty points is a big deal, but if you lose and you have 50, it really doesn't matter."
His career night was right on time. Johnson told The Post just a day earlier that he wanted his point guard to be more aggressive in looking to score:
"And you know Deron is a pass-first guy, he wants to pass, that's his MO," Johnson said. "But I think when he has that eye of the tiger, and whether it's single coverage or double coverage, it actually makes us a better team."
That's exactly what Deron gave his coach on Sunday, going 16-of-29 from the floor, including 4-of-11 from 3-point range. Johnson was nearly speechless when he spoke to reporters afterwards.
"Unbelievable. Awesome," Johnson said of D-Will's night.
No. 8's performance reminded Johnson of some legendary performances from the past — such as ones by the Bobcats' own majority owner, Michael Jordan.
"I can't think of many [it compares to]," Johnson said. "I've seen quite a few of his [Jordan's] performances, and this one ranks up there with it."
BY THE NUMBERS
Deron's 57-point night put him in elite company on a number of NBA lists.
Andy Vazquez of The Record chased down some of unique marks Deron hit. Check them out below:
Only five active players have scored more than 56 points in an NBA game: Deron Williams (57), Jerry Stackhouse (57), Michael Redd (57), Tracy McGrady (62) and Kobe Bryant (81, 65, 62, 61, 60, 58).
Since the 1985-86 season the 55-point mark has been eclipsed only 33 times in regular season play, including Deron Williams' outburst Sunday night. And Williams (6-foot-3) is one of only three players under 6-foot-6 to score more than 55 points in a game since then. Gilbert Arenas (6-foot-3) scored 60 points on Dec. 17, 2006; Allen Iverson (6-foot-0) scored 60 points on Feb. 12, 2005 and 58 points on Jan. 15, 2002.
- Deron Williams was the first Net to score more than 50 points since Vince Carter scored 51 on Dec. 23, 2005 in Miami. Williams is the sixth Net to join the 50-point club: Stephon Marbury (50), John Williamson (50), Carter (51), Newlin (52), Ray Williams (52), Deron Williams (57).
- *Williams 21-for-21 free throws sets a team record for most made without a miss. Devin Harris held the previous record at 17-for-17.
*Only one player in NBA history has made more free throws in a game without a miss than Deron's 21-for-21: Dominique Wilkins went 23-for-23 against Chicago on Dec. 8, 1992.
- *Deron Williams outscored his teammates 57-47. Kris Humphries (11 points) and Shelden Williams (10) were the only Nets to join Deron Williams in double figures.
12 AND 8 IN BEANTOWN
Deron's epic game on Sunday was that much more impressive because of the difficulties he experienced just two days earlier in Boston
Slowed by a calf injury suffered during the All-Star Game, D-Will attempted a season-low nine shots, still making four of them on the way to 12 points. But with their best player so limited, the Nets lost in Boston on Friday, 107-94. D-Will also tallied eight assists and was 4-of-5 from the free-throw line.
New Jersey will look to Deron for another strong game Tuesday night, and they'll need it as they travel to Miami to take on what of the NBA's best teams in the Heat.
Miami owns the NBA's second-best record and are 8-2 in their last 10 games despite dropping two in a row. D-Will posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists in the Nets' 101-90 loss to the Heat on Jan. 7.
Tuesday's game can be seen at 7:30 EST on YES.
- Deron Williams scores team-record 57 points to lead Nets in 104-101 victory (The Star-Ledger, March 4, 2012)
- Deron Williams' historic night by the numbers (The Record, March 4, 2012)
- D-Will scores franchise record 57 points (ESPN.com, March 4, 2012)
- Nets Post Game: Deron Williams (YES Network, March 4, 2012)
- Deron scores Nets record 57 points in win over Bobcats (The New York Post, March 4, 2012)
- Nets want more shots for Deron (The New York Post, March 4, 2012)
- Nets Post Game: Avery Johnson (YES Network, March 4, 2012)