by Alex Sims, March 09, 2013
Rejuvenated after months of pain that kept him from being himself on the court, Deron Williams finally, truly said “Hello Brooklyn” with a performance for the record books on Friday night.
Deron put on a record-breaking aerial assault at the Barclays Center, where he buried a Nets franchise record 11 threes—including a NBA record nine in the first half alone—for a season-high 42 points in a 95-78 win over the Washington Wizards.
At the end of a historic evening, D-Will scanned the buzzing Barclays Center and suddenly, a smile flashed across his face. He made his way across the crowded court to his family and picked up his son to share in the moment.
Fans and followers who witnessed the dazzling display clamored over the fallen records, but D-Will was happy to take the much-needed win, celebrate with his family and teammates, and keep moving toward their final goal.
"I'm just happy we won,” Deron said afterward. “That's the main thing. If I would've done this and we lost, it definitely wouldn't have meant anything. All the records are good stories to tell your kids and grandkids when you get older, but I'm just after one thing and that's a championship."
Right from the top on Friday night, No. 8 showed a championship-worthy shooting stroke. He took a feed from Gerald Wallace and knocked down his first trifecta from the left wing just a minute and a half into the game. From there, he just kept on shooting and kept on hitting.
Just four minutes into the contest, D-Will was already 4-of-4 from deep, as the Nets had amassed a 16-0 lead. As No. 8 attested afterward, the Nets offense was clicking on all cylinders early, which allowed him plenty of open looks.
"I definitely got hot, especially in that first half and just found myself really open,” D-Will said. “They were helping off me and going under on screens. I hit the first couple and they were just those shots where, when they leave your hand, they feel like they're good. So I just kept going. It happened so fast. I think I had like 18 a couple minutes in."
Washington center Nene finally put his team on the board after D-Will's fourth triple, only to have No. 8 answer with yet another three, his fifth. And just as snow blanketed Brooklyn early Friday morning, Deron's three-point shooting snowballed Friday night.
Following a block from Brook Lopez on the other end, No. 8 decided to see just how hot his hand was. He pulled up in transition and effortlessly splashed his sixth three as if he were shooting into the Atlantic Ocean.
"That was a heat check,” Deron said of his sixth trifecta. “I think I should've shot another one after that too. Joe (Johnson) told me I should've when I came to the bench."
Less than five minutes into the game, the Wizards burned a timeout with D-Will already halfway to the NBA record for threes in a single game. Meanwhile, his backcourt teammate Joe Johnson started to wonder if he would ever miss.
"Early in the game, I truly thought he was going to go for about 60,” Johnson said. “After the first two, you could just tell how good of a rhythm he was getting. The way he was making them and the defense doesn't adjust? You can do that all night long. In that first quarter, I didn't think he was going to miss."
D-Will popped his final three-point attempt of the first quarter with 4:01 to go in the frame and added a layup along the way as the Nets built a monstrous 20-plus point lead. He finished the first with 23 points off 8-of-9 shooting overall and 7-of-7 shooting from three. After the scorching start, D-Will rested the final 2:30 of the first quarter.
In the second, the Wizards began to work their way back into the game behind John Wall and Kevin Seraphin. D-Will re-entered at the 7:16 mark and picked up right where he left off, burying his eighth straight three just one minute back into the action.
That triple tied the NBA record for threes in a single half of play and tied Deron's career high for triples in a game.
D-Will's incredible night drew attention and surprise across the league on Friday night, but it didn't surprise his head coach. After the win, Brooklyn interim boss P.J. Carlesimo said he knew his point guard was capable of this type of performance, even through the struggles of this season.
“Deron Williams, when he's healthy, this is how he's gonna [play],” Carlesimo said. “Not necessarily like tonight. But the way he's played since the All-Star break. I didn't doubt that he was going to. Through all the wringing of the hands, the one thing I've been constant about, Deron Williams is not one of the things I'm worried about. You don't worry about Deron Williams."
After three-pointer No. 8 for No. 8 in the second, he finally began to cool off and his next attempt from downtown fell off the mark. The Wizards defense began to tighten up, which then allowed Deron to drive the lane for a pair of buckets and reach the 30-point plateau with 3:12 left in the half.
His performance against a usually solid Wizards defense earned some praise from Washington head coach Randy Wittman.
“Just a hell of a shooting display,” Wittman said. “He got hot. Don't know if I've ever seen anything quite like that before in the first half.”
D-Will capped that first half off with yet another three pointer to give him 33 points at the break —exactly matching the 33 points put up by Wittman's entire squad— and the Nets led 59-33 going into the locker room.
During a halftime interview with Sarah Kustok of the YES Network, Brooklyn assistant coach Mario Elie lauded D-Will's performance, highlighting just how hard he has worked to make this turnaround through a rocky start to the season.
“I'm really happy for Deron,” Elie told Kustok. “He has been taking a lot of heat this year. He continues to work and continues to have a good attitude and it's good to see the result tonight. He puts in his work and gets a lot of shots up. He came back from the All-Star break with a different attitude. He's playing tremendous basketball for us. I'm really happy and proud of him and that's why we have this big lead.”
With one record already in hand, D-Will continued his run immediately after the break. About 30 seconds out of halftime, he buried his 10th three pointer, breaking the Nets franchise record for threes in a game previously held by Vince Carter.
By three No. 10, the Barclays Center crowd was rising in anticipation every time D-Will touched the ball. As a result, the Wizards were forced to send a double team his way on every possession.
Thanks to his hot shooting, Deron didn't register his first assist until five minutes into the third quarter. However, with his two newly acquired defensive shadows, he began to defer to his teammates and found Johnson for a short jumper on his first dime halfway through the third.
"I was so hot in the first half that I think I just cooled off there for a bit,” said D-Will, who finished with a game-high five assists. “I missed like four in a row, they were doubling me, so I was just trying to hit my teammates. I had two guys coming after me. I had to give it up."
But with Deron doubled and the rest of his teammates struggling from the field, the Wizards began to chip away at the Brooklyn lead. Early in the fourth, with No. 8 on the bench, D.C. came within 13 points—the Nets' smallest lead since 8:37 of the first quarter.
D-Will then re-entered and quickly found Lopez for a dunk and Mirza Teletovic for a three to give Brooklyn more breathing room. But as the fourth winded down, the Wizards still wouldn't allow any room for No. 8 from the perimeter—and he didn't even manage another outside attempt until the final two minutes of the game.
At the 1:39 mark, Deron splashed his 11th three to bring him within one of the NBA record, and on the next possession, he had a chance at it. D-Will pulled up from 26 feet away at the top of the key and launched a perfectly aligned attempt, but it bounced off the iron.
That miss left him one three-pointer short of the NBA record of 12 in a game that is currently held by Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall. D-Will still finished 11-of-16 from three for 42 points and added five dimes and three boards.
By the end of the contest, the crowd at the Barclays Center was cheering as loud for the plight of Reggie Evans as they were for D-Will. Evans hauled in a career-high 24 rebounds and was harassed by the D.C. defense, which sent him to the line for 16 free throw attempts.
Evans struggled at the line, missing 11 of his tries at the stripe. However, he ended up sinking his final two attempts and walking off to a standing ovation. After the game, he expressed how important Deron's big game was in the win.
"We needed a win at home,” Evans said. “We've been letting our fans down at home so we just wanted to come out and be aggressive. Deron, he was hot. He was hot like fish grease—he was hot. It kind of reminded me of my days when I first got in the league and I played with Ray Allen.”
But even through a deep-fried shooting night, D-Will saw some room for improvement for his squad going forward in that championship quest he has his eye on.
"I think as a group we still need to find some consistency,” Deron admitted. “We still had ups and downs tonight. This is a game we should've put away early. We kind of slacked and let them get back in the game. They cut it to 13 and we had to come back in. So we still have a little ways to go."
The Nets (36-26) will have a tough act to follow when they return to action on Saturday night in Atlanta against the Hawks (34-27).
Brooklyn traveled overnight after the win over Washington to make the third of four meetings with Atlanta this season. The two teams split a back-to-back, home-and-home series in January. Atlanta took the first contest in Atlanta.
Then the Nets prevailed in Brooklyn two nights later, as D-Will's free throws in the final minute gave him 24 points and his team a victory.
Only 1.5 games separate the two teams in the crowded Eastern Conference, as the Nets sit in fourth and the Hawks in a tie for sixth place.
Round three of this season's four-game series will tip off at 7 p.m. EST at Phillips Arena in Atlanta and will air locally on YES.
- Williams Electrifies From Long Distance (New York Times, March 8, 2013)
- Deron Williams scores 42 points to lead 95-78 rout of Washington Wizards (Washington Post, March 8, 2013)
- Deron Williams' record-setting night (ESPN Stats & Information, March 9, 2013)
- New shoes, new highs, new records for Deron Williams (The Brooklyn Game, March 8, 2013)
- Deron Williams totals 11 3-pointer (ESPN New York, March 8, 2013)
- Deron Williams hits NBA record nine 3-pointer in first half (New York Daily News, March 8, 2013)
- Williams hits record 9 first-half 3-pointers (New York Post, March 9, 2013)
- Deron Williams sets nets record with 11 three-pointers (Newsday, March 8, 2013)