by Alex Sims, November 27, 2012
When Nets general manager Billy King traded for Deron Williams in February of 2011 and began putting on the full court press to sign the All-Star to a long-term deal, he spoke to D-Will about a vision of a Nets future in Brooklyn with raucous crowds, national attention and, of course, plenty of wins.
Deron admitted this offseason that it took him some time to see that vision. But it was never clearer than Monday night, when he stepped to the free throw line to put the finishing touches on a monumental 96-89 triumph over the crosstown rival New York Knicks in front of a sellout crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"This is what they talked about," Deron said of the atmosphere in Brooklyn before, during and after the game. "I think this is what they visualized, games like this. This was a playoff-type atmosphere. You could definitely feel it on the court. It was a great game to be a part of."
Interspersed between the loud chants of "Broooook-lyn" that rang through the arena for the last few minutes came another chant that was music to D-Will's ears. The fans at the Barclays Center saluted their point guard as they showered him with "MVP" chants while he calmly sank two free throws to push Brooklyn's advantage to 94-87 with 30 seconds remaining in overtime. Media members were impressed too.
Deron Williams was by far the best player on the floor tonight.
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) November 27, 2012
This is a superstar performance from Deron Williams. This is what we've been waiting to see from him all season long.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) November 27, 2012
After the win, Deron thanked the fans for their incredible support, noting a large turnaround from the last two years in New Jersey where opposing fans often drowned out the home crowd, especially when the Knicks came to town.
"It was great. The fans have been great all year," he said. "They were up and loud the whole game. It's just a total 180 from what we saw last year. It was mostly Knicks fans [in New Jersey] and all the chants and cheers were for them. It was great to feel that we had that home court advantage finally. We gave the fans a show."
The Clash of the Boroughs was everything it was expected to be from start to finish. D-Will played a big part in that show, notching 14 eye-popping assists — as many as the entire Knicks team — to go along with 16 points, six rebounds and three steals in the overtime victory.
"Deron is a big-stage player," said Brooklyn head coach Avery Johnson. "He really dominated the game. I thought his pick and roll coverage was good. Good assists, on-time, on-target passes. Deron did an outstanding job."
No. 8 got Brooklyn going in the first when he drove hard to the rack to net the first bucket in the rivalry. He contributed five points and five assists in total during the first quarter. The first two of those dimes went to Gerald Wallace, who posted a game-high nine first-quarter points en route to his best overall game of the season.
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) November 27, 2012
But D-Will did his best work in the final three minutes of the frame. His third assist went to Brook Lopez to make it 18-15 Nets with 2:40 left in the second. Moments later he followed a game-tying three by Rasheed Wallace with a drive to the bucket for his second layup of the quarter, which put the Nets back in front.
He added another dime to Lopez, who knocked down a hook shot with under a minute to go to make it a four-point game, then kicked to Keith Bogans for a trey on the next Brooklyn possession to put the Nets in front 26-19. Brooklyn led 26-23 after one.
Seems like Deron Williams' assists have all been incredible pass tonight.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) November 27, 2012
The Knicks, however, were able to battle back and mounted a 10-2 run from the end of the first through the beginning of the second frame. But just a minute after checking into the game, veteran Jerry Stackhouse buried his first of four three-pointers in the contest to halt the run. Stackhouse finished with 14 points in the game—more than the entire Knicks bench — and combined with fellow veteran Keith Bogans for 20 points on the night. Deron credited those experienced athletes for their impact on the victory.
"I talked a lot to (general manger Billy King) in the offseason about going out and getting veteran guys," D-Will said. "It's very important for the locker room to keep guys together and it's important for tight games like these to have guys like Stackhouse and Bogans that you can call on and know that they're always ready to play because they're professionals."
Stackhouse wasn't the only one to see a big shot fall in the second quarter. Deron also hit a cutting Wallace late in the frame for the go-ahead bucket. Despite that play, New York entered the break with a two-point lead thanks to the efforts of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
The Knicks' tandem combined for 63 points and 23 rebounds, but the Nets were able to match their rival in the paint. Brook Lopez had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Reggie Evans added 14 boards off the bench, prompting TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal to deem him Reggie "Big Dawg" Evans during the halftime break.
D-Will carried the offense early in the third with three buckets and three dimes in the first seven minutes of the quarter as he helped the Nets keep pace with their rivals. Several of those plays came in transition, a facet of the game D-Will said played a major role in the victory.
"Coach talked a lot about pushing the ball. We wanted to push the ball in transition, get some easy baskets," he said. "We didn't have a ton of fast break points, but I think the pace was a little bit better. We got into our sets earlier. We've been shooting a lot of shots late in the clock and we wanted to eliminate that."
The Knicks went on another run to jump out to a seven-point lead late in the third frame and it was déjà vu all over again for the Nets, who have struggled in the third quarter for much of this season. But D-Will stepped in to reverse the trend. No. 8 hit Evans and Andray Blatche for consecutive buckets to jump start a 9-1 Nets run and Brooklyn closed the third quarter with a 68-67 lead.
Deron Williams dropping dimes like he has holes in his pockets #KnicksVsNets
— Chad Upshaw (@Crups85) November 27, 2012
As expected, the back-and-forth action continued in the final frame. Down two in the middle of the fourth, No. 8 hit one of the biggest shots of the contest, when he buried a three-pointer to give the Nets a lead, sparking another "BROOK-LYN" chant at Barclays. On the next trip down the floor, Deron drove the lane, then found Lopez who completed an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Nets a 76-72 lead with under six minutes to play.
Deron Williams has put on a passing clinic tonight.
— Daniel Glass (@Dgyn14) November 27, 2012
But the seesaw battle was far from over. The Knicks tied the game at 76, only to see the Nets score the next five points, punctuated by a D-Will steal that led to a fastbreak slam by Lopez. Lopez credited D-Will's phenomenal passing with his success throughout the game.
"He gift wraps buckets for me," the Nets center said. "He makes my job so much easier."
The fastbreak finish was a big moment in the game, however New York followed with an 8-0 run to take an 84-81 lead with 1:38 to go. With his team on the ropes, D-Will stepped up to corral three rebounds in the final minute. He also had another assist to Lopez, who added three points including a game-tying free throw with 24 seconds to go.
After stopping the Knicks on their final possession, Brooklyn inbounded the ball with 3.6 seconds left, but a last ditch heave by Deron from halfcourt missed, sending the game to overtime. With a big victory hanging in the balance, the Nets spent the next five minutes playing their best defense of the season.
Brooklyn held New York to just five points in overtime and, led by five OT points from Stackhouse, controlled the action in the extra period. D-Will attributed the late success of the Nets defense to determination and a commitment to their game plan.
"We just pay attention to detail," he said. "We have a game plan going into every game and certain players we play certain ways. We kind of refocus at the end of the games. We know that we have to get stops, that's first and foremost. We're able to buckle down and do that."
After an 8-1 Nets run, D-Will toed the free throw line and salted the game away to the sound of "MVP" chants ringing in the rafters in Brooklyn.
M-V-P chants for Deron Williams are LOUD.
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) November 27, 2012
— Henry Sanchez (@HenrySanchez) November 27, 2012
His two free throws put the game out of reach for the Knicks and sent Brooklyn to first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time since D-Will became a Net 21 months ago.
"I thought this was a big game in general for us," Deron said. "The Knicks are a great team this year, they came in with a great record and it's hard to deny the atmosphere and media buzz around this game. So, I mean, it was definitely an exciting game for us, we were definitely ready and up for the task and I'm glad we were able to come out of it with a victory."
But D-Will promised that the Nets won't get too high on themselves off of the victory, choosing to take it as one of many instead of a statement win or a so-called "city championship." He noted that he and his teammates would take the night to celebrate a big win, before turning their focus to the next one up and the rest of the season.
"It's one game. It was a good win for us. But we still have to play (the Knicks) three more times and maybe in the playoffs," he said. "So we can't just be excited like we won the championship. We didn't win the championship of New York. We won a game against a division rival, and it was a great win for us."
Next on the agenda for the Nets (9-4) is another division rival, the Boston Celtics (8-6) and after three straight home wins Brooklyn will be back on the road for Wednesday's contest in Beantown.
Boston is currently riding a two-game winning streak after topping the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Friday and the Orlando Magic on the road Sunday. They enter Wednesday's game looking to avenge a Nov. 15 loss to the Nets.
"We're riding high right now, but we have a Boston team in our next game that's probably looking for payback for the game when we played them here," Deron said. "We're definitely happy about this win. We're excited, we're going to celebrate tonight, but tomorrow we turn our focus to Boston."
In that game, D-Will tallied 24 points and eight assists against a Boston squad that was without point guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics court general is expected to play on Wednesday, and has averaged a league-leading 13.7 assists per game this season.
Wednesday's game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. EST and will air on the YES Network.
- Nets Beat Knicks in Overtime in First Game as Intracity Rivals (New York Times, November 26, 2012)
- Nets top Knicks in overtime in first meeting in Brooklyn (Newsday, November 26, 2012)
- Deron Williams downplays Brooklyn Nets win over New York Knicks (Slam Online, November 27, 2012)
- Nets top Knicks in thrilling overtime battle for New York (USA Today, November 27, 2012)
- Deron Williams thrives on big stage, hit with MVP chant (New York Daily News, November 27, 2012)
- Williams makes Kidd-like impact (NBA.com, November 26, 2012)
- Deron Williams playing with sprained wrist (ESPN New York, November 26, 2012)
- Nets prevail in OT thriller (NY Post, November 27, 2012)