Skip to content

Deron Williams returns, chooses to come off the bench in Nets’ blowout win over Knicks

Jan 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

deron williams knicks AP

NEW YORK – The last time the Nets faced the Knicks, they were without Deron Williams and Paul Pierce due to injury, and a fully healthy New York squad thumped Brooklyn back on Dec. 5 at Barclays by a 30-point margin.

A little more than a month later, things have completely changed for both sides.

The Nets have been on a roll since the calendar turned to 2014, and they got Williams back in time to blowout the Knicks 103-80 in a Monday matinee at Madison Square Garden to improve to 7-1 in the new year.

Not that they needed him.

Brooklyn has been using excellent ball movement and riding Joe Johnson during this recent stretch, whose big early scoring performances have gotten the Nets out to some very fast starts. And the team has been stronger defensively with Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson at the guard spots, so Williams kept continuity, and made the easy decision to come off the bench.

“It was my idea,” he said afterward. “Just because we had been playing so well with that lineup, why shake things up? It doesn’t matter if I come off the bench, start, whatever. The way [Joe Johnson] has been playing in first quarters, first halves, I don’t want to disrupt that.”

Johnson had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the game’s first 12 minutes, and the Nets had opened up an 11-point lead by the time the first quarter was finished.

Paul Pierce knows a thing or two about going from a starting to a reserve role, having had to deal with that for the first time in his career with the Nets earlier this season. It was tough on Pierce at the time, but he believes that while it will be an adjustment for Williams if it continues, he’s more than capable of figuring it out.

“I haven’t come off the bench my whole career until recently, but I think it’s a mental adjustment,” Pierce said. “It’s just something you’ve got to figure out, and it’s totally different when you’ve been playing your whole life in the starting lineup. You have to have a different mental approach, you have to be ready as soon as you come in — it’s just a different type of preparation, I think. He’s a smart player, he understands the game, and he can figure it out, whether he continues to come off the bench or until he returns to the starting lineup.”

While the Nets have gotten healthy (minus Brook Lopez, of course, who is expected to be out the rest of the season with a foot fracture), they’ve also begun to come together as a team. Andray Blatche, who played well when the game was out of hand for the second straight contest and finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, says the defense is what’s made the difference.

“It’s our effort on defense and we’re trusting one another on defense,” Blatche said. “We’re talking, and things are working out for us. We’re hanging our hat on defense first.”

Kevin Garnett echoed those remarks, and credited Jason Kidd for getting his message to the team across in terms of what the expectations are in defensive situations.

“We’re not guessing anymore,” Garnett said.

On the Knicks side, they’re missing two key rotation big men in Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire, but the problems seem to run deeper than simply available personnel. The defense is a joke at times, and Carmelo Anthony rarely gets any consistent help offensively beyond high-volume, low-percentage shooting from his teammates.

The Knicks and the Nets traded plenty of jabs through the media following the offseason acquisitions of Pierce and Garnett, but Brooklyn wouldn’t place any special emphasis on this victory afterward. Pierce was among those exchanging the playful remarks, but at this point he’s focused on how Williams’ return can help impact this team as it tries to live up to those lofty preseason expectations.

“We need Deron,” he said. “No matter how we’ve been playing, at the end of the day if we’re going to make some noise here in the East, we need what he’s able to do.”

“I know there was a lot of talk in the preseason about the rivalry, you know, the inner-city battle,” Pierce said. “But us as a team, at this point we’re looking at the big picture. We’re looking at how we’re going to develop, how we’re going to get better and how we’re going to continue to move up in the East.”

Latest Posts
  1. Sunday NBA grades: Nene, Aldridge lead day where big men shine

    Apr 21, 2014, 2:32 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    Aldridge set a Blazers record with 46 points in a playoff game. Nene reminded everyone why he

  2. Bulls have no answer for Nene as Wizards take Game 1

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT

    Nene, Carlos Boozer Nene, Carlos Boozer

    Nene gets his first start since February and the Wizards steal Game 1.

  3. Charlotte is scrappy but Heat have too much in comfortable 99-88 win

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh

    Bobcats were scrappy, but with Al Jefferson hurting Miami just had too much LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

  4. Gregg Popovich interview with Craig Sager Jr. actually a get-well wish (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    popovich sager1

    Touching moment as Gregg Popovich delivers a heartfelt message.

  5. Spurs use huge 4th quarter run to come back and win Game 1 vs. Mavericks

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

    Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan

    Spurs close the game on a 19-4 run after trailing by double digits.

  6. NBA issues statement saying Chris Paul was fouled before late-game turnover against Warriors

    Apr 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chris Paul, Draymond Green Chris Paul, Draymond Green

    Statement confirms referees handled replay review correctly, but also admits that they missed the initial foul call on a critical possession.

  7. Jim Buss says he’ll step down if Lakers aren’t contenders again in ‘three to four years’

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Jim Buss Jim Buss

    If Jim Buss fails to deliver in quickly rebuilding the Lakers, he says he’ll resign.

  8. Hibbert says he’s the “weak link on defense,” hopes for better Game 2

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game One Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert owned up to a poor Game 1. Will he do anything about it in Game 2 is the question.

  9. Raptors say malfunctioning shot clocks will be fixed in time for Game 2 vs. Nets

    Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    raptors shot clock

    Shot clocks stopped working midway through the third quarter, but Raptors say all will be well in time for Game 2.

  10. Thunder start fast, cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:44 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

    OKC led by as many as 25 points in the first half.

  11. Kyle Korver swats Roy Hibbert’s shot out of bounds (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert wasn’t good in Game 1 against the Hawks, and this play epitomized his performance.

  12. Pacers’ troubles continue as Hawks convincingly win Game 1

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    Pacers' Hibbert looks down court during Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series against the Heat in Indianapolis Reuters

    The eight-seed Hawks blowout the Pacers in Game 1.

  13. Warriors take Game 1 from Clippers

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Warriors steal Game 1 in Los Angeles.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (3132)
  2. L. James (3013)
  3. C. Anthony (2818)
  4. S. Curry (2788)
  5. K. Durant (2785)
  1. D. Rose (2623)
  2. A. Bogut (2504)
  3. B. Griffin (2429)
  4. R. Westbrook (2371)
  5. C. Paul (2334)