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‘Just Not Happening’ for Nets’ Deron Williams

D-Will Struggles as Nets Squander 17-Point Lead to Kidd’s Bucks

February 10, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Deron Williams had no points and four turnovers in 22 minutes against Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. Associated Press photo
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Deron Williams arrived in Downtown Brooklyn as the $98 million front man for a franchise that was going to chase championships at all costs.

Instead, he appears to be merely a shell of the player who rose to prominence as one of the top point guards in the NBA during his five-plus seasons in Utah.

Be it due to injury — and he’s had plenty of those the past three seasons — or lack of confidence — he’s admitted to that more than a time or two – Brooklyn’s one-time pied piper has looked utterly lost on the hardwood since returning from a rib injury earlier this month.

Over his past five games, Williams is a combined 11-for-42 from the field, including 0-for-13 in his past two contests.

During Monday night’s 103-97 loss in Milwaukee, Williams misfired on all five of his shot attempts and committed four turnovers in 22 minutes before hitting the bench for the remainder of the contest.

“They are long athletic guys out there,” Williams noted. “They switched a lot of stuff. They were double-teaming us, threw us off our rhythm a little bit. And then anytime we turned the ball over, they turned it into fast-break opportunities.”

The Nets’ second straight defeat following an inspiring three-game winning streak dropped Brooklyn a full game behind Miami in the hunt for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Williams, who was listed as questionable prior to the game against former Nets coach Jason Kidd and the Bucks due to an undisclosed illness that forced him to miss the team’s shoot-around, is clearly the Nets’ second-best point guard.

Jarrett Jack, his more than competent replacement in that role, put up a team-high 26 points to go with eight assists and four rebounds Monday.

Making matters worse, D-Will doesn’t appear as if he is suddenly going to snap out of this malaise and retake his position as the starting point guard and undisputed floor leader for this franchise.

“I feel bad for the kid because he’s trying and it’s just not happening,” Nets first-year head coach Lionel Hollins said of Williams after Monday’s loss.

The Nets were headed to Memphis Tuesday night for a showdown with Hollins’ former team, the Grizzlies.

After that, the team will take a break from its ongoing eight-game road trip during the All-Star Weekend festivities here in Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan.

With the Feb. 19 trade deadline approaching, Williams might be one of the players general manager Billy King tries to shop.

That is if anyone is even the least bit interested in picking up a 30-year-old veteran who has undergone several ankle procedures in the hopes of revitalizing his now dormant game.

Joe Johnson scored 19 points and Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 apiece for Brooklyn, which was outscored 32-16 in the decisive third quarter Monday night.

“The way we started the third quarter, we really took control of the game and being able to finish the way we did, it’s a real good home win,” said Kidd, who watched his team improve to 2-0 against the Nets this season and 29-23 overall.

“I said before the game to the players that we have to keep scoring,” Hollins added. “We can’t have those lulls.”

The season has probably felt like one long lull for the Nets, who rebounded from a 10-21 start under Kidd a season ago to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals.

A similar scenario playing out this season is very difficult to see at this point.

Especially when the man who is supposed to be running the point is as much a non-factor as he is a hindrance to the Nets’ pursuance of that goal.

Nothing But Net: The Nets won’t have a participating player in Sunday’s All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. However, both Plumlee and Bogdanovic will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge, with Plumlee also taking part in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk competition at the Barclays Center. … F Kevin Garnett, who played just 13 minutes Monday, usually sits out the second half of back-to-back games for the Nets, but may suit up Tuesday night in Memphis with the All-Star break approaching. … The Nets were plus-15 with Jack on the floor against the Bucks, and minus-7 when Williams hit the hardwood. Jack finished 10-of-15 from the floor.

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