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Deron, Nets Heartbroken By Heat in Game 5

 

by Jacklyn Bamberger, May 15, 2014

Trying to stave off elimination, Deron Williams and his Brooklyn Nets put everything on the line in Wednesday night’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Miami.

D-Will attacked the Heat aggressively in Game 5 and had his best game of the series, but the Nets couldn't hold off the Heat (Getty Images).

Brooklyn’s point man was a force to be reckoned with as he dropped 17 points and four assists — while battling through the persistent ankle pain that has slowed him for much of the season — to help his team maintain a steady lead throughout the contest. However, the Heat mounted a frantic 13-0 run in the game’s waning minutes to send the Nets home with a heartbreaking 96-94 loss.

"We worked hard in the off-season, all season long, and now it’s over. It’s definitely tough to swallow right now," Deron said afterward.

Deron's squad held a nine-point lead on two occasions in the fourth quarter, until the reigning NBA champions turned up the intensity on both ends of the floor over the final five minutes.

Before the furious Heat rally, the Nets appeared to be well on their way to sending the series back to Brooklyn at 3-2. 

Brooklyn was sharp from the start, playing with the desparation it promised going into the game.

No. 8 was among several Nets to start the contest firing on all cylinders. He assisted on a Paul Pierce layup just over a minute into the game that tied up it at 4-4. Just a minute later, D-Will sank a layup and then recorded a block on a James layup attempt at the other end of the floor.

As the quarter rolled on, Deron continued to play with the type of aggression his team needed. Four minutes into the game he pump-faked a three and blew by a defender for a layup to make it 13-6 in favor of Brooklyn. However, the Heat were playing with aggression as well, particularly star Dwyane Wade, who had been quiet for most of the series. After D-Will's layup gave the Nets a seven-point lead, Miami scored the next eight points, including six by Wade, to pull ahead. 

Deron helped to break the run with an assist to Pierce, who drove in for a layup that put Brooklyn back on top. Shortly thereafter, Nets coach Jason Kidd made the decision to let his point guard rest the final 2:50 of the first frame. The teams volleyed back and forth in the closing minutes with three ties and three lead changes, and Miami led by just one, 23-22, after one.

The back and forth continued into the second as Kidd got his point man some rest to get him ready to finish the half. When D-Will returned to the game with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second, it was the Nets who held a one-point lead. No. 8 once again provided an offensive spark, and in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the half, he buried a pair of threes.

No. 8 had his three-point touch working on Wednesday and sank a pair of threes in the second that helped the Nets take a halftime lead (Getty Images).

The first, off a feed from Pierce with 3:20 to go, put Brooklyn on top 41-39. When Miami tied things up at 42-42, D-Will responded by burying a go-ahead trey.

After No. 8's timely treys, Joe Johnson hit two unanswered shots to close out the half and the Nets took a 49-42 lead into the locker room—part of a fantastic night from Deron's backcourt partner. In the second quarter, Deron went 2-of-4 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. His 10 points in the first half were tied with Johnson for a team high.

After stretching their lead before the break, the Nets began to take over in the third. A Chris Bosh three tied the game at 49 early in the third, but Brooklyn responded with a 12-2 run, keyed by D-Will's continued aggressive play.

Three minutes into the half, No. 8 banked home a jumper. Then, after a Johnson three had put the Nets up by seven, Deron gave Brooklyn its largest lead of the game when he sank another trey from the corner to make it 61-51 in favor of the visitors.

After Brooklyn's 12-2 campaign, the Heat responded with a short run of their own, and a layup by James cut the lead to just three points —but D-Will stymied that rally, slicing through the lane for a layup to extend the lead back to five, 67-62.

D-Will kept the Heat on their heels, which not only created opportunities for him, but also helped his teammates score (Getty Images).

With less than a minute remaining in the frame, Deron drove through the lane and placed a perfect leading pass to Andrei Kirilenko, who finished with a flush to bring the lead back to seven. Johnson’s tip-in on a missed shot from Pierce on Brooklyn’s last possession of the quarter gave the Nets a 75-66 cushion going into the final 12 minutes of regulation.

D-Will turned in seven points in the third quarter, while Johnson contributed seven. At the end of three, the duo had combined for 39 points. The big night from Deron was also carrying over to the defensive end, as Miami's point guards, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, had managed just two points and zero field goals through three.

But as the final frame got underway, Miami quickly went to work to carve into the Nets' nine-point lead as Rashard Lewis and James canned back-to-back threes in the opening 90 seconds of the fourth. However, two of Brooklyn's top late-game performers, Johnson and Pierce, countered with a cominbed 17 points in the frame.

A 6-0 run by the Nets with two Pierce buckets sandwiched around one from Johnson had the lead back at nine. The seesaw continued when a three from Bosh sliced the lead back down to four with 7:27 remaining. After a Shaun Livingston bucket pushed it back to six, Johnson netted a tough and-one to bring the lead once again to nine points. Deron's backcourt-mate added another mid-range jumper less than a minute later to make it 91-83 in favor of the visitors.

But after that bucket, the Nets went cold and didn't hit another shot until it was too late.

Miami went on a 13-0 run spanning four-and-a-half minutes until there were just 10.4 seconds left in the game when Deron fed Johnson for one last corner three. That shot gave the Nets one last breath of life, cutting their deficit to 95-94. On the other end, James made just 1-of-2 free throws, opening the window for Brooklyn to steal the victory it once had all but sealed up.

Unfortunately, as the Nets looked to Johnson one last time, a suffocating double-team from the Heat didn't allow him to even put up one last shot attempt, and the Nets fell 96-94.

After the gut-wrenching defeat, D-Will looked back at Brooklyn’s up-and-down season with some optimism and also discussed the future prospects of his team.

"We started off really bad and to end up where we were without Brook, who was a big part of what we wanted to do this year, says a lot. We fought back, we hung in there, you know, and a lot of people counting us out," Deron said. "I think we can take it another level. It took us a while to get used to each other, to get comfortable with each other, to build that chemistry, so I just think another year will help. It can only help, you know, the more you play with guys, the more comfortable you feel, and so if we can keep this group together, that would be great."

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