by Alex Sims, January 12, 2013
When Deron Williams crashed to the court on Friday night it didn't look good for he or the Nets, who were locked in a battle with the pesky Phoenix Suns.
D-Will was helped up by his teammates after the clash and had to eventually limp his way into the locker room with his thigh in a knot. But he didn't stay there long. No. 8 quickly made his way back to the court and helped spur a second half surge for the Nets in a 99-79 comeback victory over the Suns.
"He's our leader," said Brooklyn center Brook Lopez. "He's gonna stay out there for us."
The Nets were certainly in need of Deron's leadership on Friday night. Early in the first quarter against Phoenix, Brooklyn swingman Gerald Wallace was fouled hard on his way to the basket. He fell straight to the floor, bruising his ribs. Wallace left the game and did not to return, leaving the Nets, already without Jerry Stackhouse, Mirza Teletovic and Kris Humphries, extremely shorthanded.
The Suns, meanwhile, were off to a remarkable start in the contest, building a seven-point halftime lead off the hand of Jared Dudley. The Phoenix guard was 3-of-3 from three, putting a lid any momentum Brooklyn tried to generate. Through the first two frames without Wallace, the Nets didn't look like the team that had its last four games.
"We weren't playing as a team and having fun," D-Will said of Brooklyn's first-half effort. "In the third quarter, we started having fun."
Brooklyn began the second half on a 10-0 run; during which D-Will went down after crashing into the knee of Suns guard Goran Dragic. He would stay in the game for a short while, only to be forced to the locker room with a deep thigh bruise. Deron returned three minutes later and the Nets finished the third frame on a 10-3 run with No. 8 on the court.
"He's just really leading by going out and really playing hard night in and night out," teammate Joe Johnson remarked to the New York Daily News. "He's been pretty banged up this whole year so the fact that he only missed one game, but other than that, he's stepping out and playing."
During the run and in the fourth, the Nets focused on playing more of an up-tempo game, a pace that ended up taking its toll on Phoenix late in the contest. In that final frame, Deron managed to keep that pace up through his injury. Lopez brought down a rebound early in the frame and just eight seconds later down the floor, D-Will drove the lane and levitated to the hoop for two, giving Brooklyn a 12-point lead and forcing a Phoenix timeout.
"We're trying to get the ball out a lot quicker, make or miss," Deron said. "Push it a little bit more. Get some easy baskets. By pushing it more, we have a little more time in the shot clock to run our offensive sets, and that helps us."
As it turned out, the Suns simply weren't able to keep up. Brooklyn held Phoenix to just 26 points in the second half, while Johnson and MarShon Brooks continued to add to their point totals. D-Will assisted on a huge three from Brooks near the end of the third and two Johnson jumpers in the fourth. The two Net shooters finished with a combined 36 points. Deron had 15 points, along with six assists, three rebounds and two steals in the win.
Friday's win was Brooklyn's fifth straight and their third in-a-row of 20-points are more, but each of those three has come against a team well below .500 and the Nets are looking for a test.
They'll get one on Sunday night at the Barclays Center from the Indiana Pacers.
"Wins are wins. We're definitely happy with those wins," D-Will said after Friday's victory. "But we talk about it a lot—those are the ones we should take care of. And now we have a tough task in Indiana, who is above us in the standings."
Deron is listed as questionable for Sunday's game with his thigh bruise. He planned to monitor the injury overnight and seek treatment on Saturday to get ready.
"We'll see what it feels like when I wake up tomorrow. But hopefully I can go. I'm just going to get a lot of treatment on it tomorrow and hopefully I'm ready."
Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST and the game can be seen on YES Network.
- The Nets Aim to Bring back the Noise (Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2013)
- Gerald Wallace leaves game (ESPN New York, January 11, 2013)
- Brooklyn extends win streak to 5 (New York Post, January 12, 2013)
- Nets overcome deficit, injuries to win five straight (Newsday, January 11, 2013)
- Joe Johnson scores 19 as Brooklyn Nets rout Phoenix Suns (NY Daily News, January 11, 2013)