In his second game back from injury, Deron Williams was dominant again, scoring 15 points with five rebounds and four assists, and holding NBA assists leader Chris Paul to just two assists, tying Paul's career-low for assists in a game.
Williams scored 12 of his 15 points in the second quarter, drawing oohs and aahs from the Barclays Center crowd as he twice crossed over Paul, getting the better of him once again in the 20th career matchup between the two star point guards.
As he did in the second half of late season, Deron Williams is starting to look like a perennial All-Star once again, and his teammates have certainly taken note.
After the game, Kevin Garnett spoke to reporters about how Deron's return to the lineup has had a major effect on the entire team, and that it's helping the Nets playing great team basketball as of late.
[sny-box]“Deron’s play is dictating how we’re coming out and starting games. He’s pushing the pace, he’s directing, he’s leading. He’s being Deron Williams [again] and I really feel like that’s the difference [right now].”[/sny-box]
The rivalry between D-Will and CP3 might be one of the best rivalries in the NBA right now, with the two star point guards both in major media markets and still as competitive as they've always been since they were rookies.
Deron's teams have now won 15 of the 20 head-to-head matchups between the two, and Thursday night, he was the best point guard on the floor. After falling behind by 13 points in the first quarter, the Nets came roaring back with a 36-point second quarter. At one point they led by as many as 23, and they never looked back.
All in all, it was great team basketball. If the Nets keep playing like this, they'll not only have a chance to get right back into the thick of things in a weak Eastern Conference, but maybe even make a run at a top-three seed. However, right now, they've just got to keep taking it one game, as they've been doing. Things are finally looking up.