Brooklyn Boro

D-Will finally stands up for Brooklyn

Virtuoso Performance Fuels Nets to 2-2 Series Tie with Hawks

April 28, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Deron Williams shot the lights out at the Barclays Center on Monday night in his finest moment as a Brooklyn Net, helping to forge a 2-2 tie with Atlanta in the teams’ ongoing best-of-7 first-round playoff series. AP photo
Share this:

Lionel Hollins and the Nets stood up for Deron Williams in the days leading up to Monday night’s Game 4 against Atlanta.

And to his credit, Williams returned the favor, finally making his mark as Brooklyn’s franchise player while pouring in a career playoff-high 35 points in the Nets’ series-tying 120-115 overtime victory over the top-seeded Hawks in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

Williams, who made just two of 15 shots spanning the previous two games, including a critical misfire on a potential tying shot in Game 2, was brilliant from start to finish en route to a 13-for-25 shooting effort, including a franchise-record seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts.

Subscribe to our newsletters

The $98 million point guard also piled up seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in just under 46 minutes of court time as Brooklyn climbed out of an 0-2 series hole to send the series back to Atlanta for a critical Game 5 at Philips Arena on Wednesday.

The virtuoso performance was particularly pleasing to Williams since it came on the heels of Hollins’ passion plea for the media, and Nets detractors in general, to get off Williams’ back.

“Yeah, I did see it,” Williams said of Hollins’ staunch defense against his veteran floor leader’s critics. “Somebody sent me the link. I can’t remember what article, but it definitely means a lot. I thanked him after the game. It means a lot when you’re struggling like that and your coach comes out and defends you the way he did.”

The Hawks, who won their first six meetings with Brooklyn this season, found Williams thoroughly un-defendable, watching helplessly as the rejuvenated playmaker put up 16 fourth-quarter points to help the Nets overcome an eight-point deficit and force overtime.

“I played with Deron in Utah for a few years, and that’s the Deron I remember,” Hawks sharp-shooter Kyle Korver humbly noted after missing several game-tying 3-point attempts that could have sent the contest to a second extra session. “You know, that’s what he’s capable of. He hit some really amazing shots, and you’ve got to give him credit.”

Of course, Williams wasn’t alone in helping the Nets get even with the Hawks.

Brook Lopez had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Joe Johnson scored 17 and rookie Bojan Bogdanovic added 15 points as Brooklyn sent Atlanta a clear message that this series was truly up for grabs.

And that Williams would be a handful to deal with going forward.

“It was a big game,” Williams noted. “It was definitely a big game for us. We really needed to get this win to stay in the series.”

Even Williams’ backup, Jarrett Jack, admitted that he had “stayed in [Williams’] ear during his struggled earlier in the series, hoping that the former six-time NBA All-Star would find his form.

“I told him after Game 2 that I believe in the law of averages,” Jack revealed. “’You’re due for a big time game. You struggled the first two, didn’t shoot it the way you wanted in the third, but you’re due for a big game. I believe it man’”.

Jack’s belief turned into Williams’ greatest performance as a Net by far in the playoffs.

And though he refused to take bows for motivating Williams, Hollins confessed that it felt sweet to have one of his foundation players provide the heroics in such a crucial game.

“Very satisfying,” Hollins said of his feelings on Williams’ breakout effort in Game 4. “The kid has overcome a lot of adversity. He had a lot of adversity with injuries and with the negativity around his name. For him to come out, it showed a lot of character to put on the performance like that, especially when we needed it. Because without that performance, I don’t know if we get out of here with a win.”

Williams, who also scored 35 points in a playoff game for Utah back in 2009, must now find a way to carry his renewed scoring touch and confidence to Atlanta, as the Nets try to take their first lead of the series.

“It definitely helped to get my confidence going early to see a couple of shots go in because they haven’t gone in the last couple of games before this,” he said. “I just wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to start out being aggressive. I pretty much was able to sustain that throughout the game.”

Sustenance is something that has been sorely lacking in Williams’ game since he arrived in Brooklyn as the leader of this relocated franchise.

If he can continue standing tall for the Nets when they need him most in this series, and propel Brooklyn to its second consecutive appearance in the Eastern Conference semifinals, he can go a long way toward establishing himself as the true leader the Nets need him to be.

“We have a lot of respect for Deron Williams and what he is capable of,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer admitted.

So, suddenly, does all of Brooklyn.

At least until Game 5.

Nothing But Net: Williams became just the second player in these playoffs to hit seven 3-pointers in a single game, joining NBA MVP candidate Stephen Curry of the league-best Golden State Warriors. … Lopez, who missed last season’s playoff run due to a foot injury, has scored at least 20 points in nine of his 11 career postseason contests. … The Nets compiled 13 steals and forced 18 turnovers, leading to 26 points, in Game 4. Brooklyn only committed 10 turnovers.  

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment