Nets’ Williams Get Payback Against Lin and Knicks

Published on: 21st February, 2012

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Deron Williams
Nets' Williams Get Payback Against Lin and Knicks  | read this item

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New York – Deron Williams, the Nets All-Star guard who had been outplayed by Jeremy Lin in the teams’ last meeting on February 4th, a Knick win, came loaded for bear tonight. Revenge was on his mind and he got what he came for. His 38 points and unstoppable nature were too much for the Knicks to handle as the Nets, with their 9-24 record coming in, beat up the hometown team at Madison Square Garden, 100-92 that left 19,763 fans feeling dazed and confused.

What?  Did you all think the rest of the Knicks season was going to be a cakewalk, leading them right to the NBA championship? Just because they had won 8 of 9 games since Lin became the starting point guard, it didn’t mean every night and every opponent would sit back and watch the high-flying Knicks offense, led by the wonderkind from Harvard, operate over, around, and through their defenses.

It just doesn’t work like that, especially when teams are dealing with a shortened season, shortened practice time, and the sudden incorporation of new players that encompass 25% of the team’s roster. The Knicks have welcomed, in the past three days, Carmelo Anthony back from a groin injury, J.R. Smith from the Chinese Basketball Association and formerly Anthony’s teammate in Denver, and Baron Davis, once considered the starting point guard for this year’s Knicks but now a hopeful backup for the 23-year old Lin.

Their lack of familiarity showed tonight on both ends of the floor for the Knicks. They had trouble guarding the perimeter, where Williams was raining threes at a rate of 8 of 14, and the Nets as a team hit on 15 of 31 shots from behind the three-point stripe.

Carmelo Anthony sensed before the game that Williams was ready for retribution, tonight.

“I saw it in him at the captains’ meeting at halfcourt,” Anthony said. “You could just look at him and tell he was ready, ready for this game.”

Williams was more ready than any of the Knicks appeared to be. Coming off an emotional and important win over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks the previous night, the Knicks’ lack of energy or perhaps, preparedness, tonight was palpable to everyone in the building. Even the crowd was on the quiet side for most of this game.

The Knicks had trouble adjusting to the presence of Anthony and Lin on the court at the same time as both players need the ball to be effective. And, all of a sudden, the hot-shooting J.R. Smith, so useful in his Knicks debut against the Mavs with his 15-points, went into a coldspin, shooting just 2 of 8 for four points.

In Lin’s case, the new point guard and the one player Mike D’Antoni cannot win without, he will eventually be in full charge of this offense and Anthony will need to defer to him to get him shots in good places, just as Lin does for Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Novak and Landry Fields.

But, more on that later.

The game started out like it was going to be a Knicks blowout of the undermanned Nets. The Knicks took an early lead in the first quarter as the offense was humming with Lin as orchestrator. They popped out to a 13-3 lead in the first five minutes as Lin fed Tyson Chandler with a nice lead pass that led to a dunk, gave Anthony an easy pass for an open 12′ jump shot, stole the ball from Williams leading to another Chandler slam dunk.

But Williams, almost single handedly led his team back into it, scoring 10 points in the quarter to bring the Nets within three, 21-18.

The second quarter became fun time for the Nets backcourt of Williams and rookie Marshon Brooks, who has never met a shot he didn’t like. The duo scored 21-points with Brooks lighting up the Knicks with 13 in the quarter while Williams added eight more to finish the first half with 18-points.  Meanwhile, their counterparts on the Knicks, Landry Fields and Lin, combined for just seven points in the quarter as the Nets took a halftime, 50-42 lead.

The loss was just the Knicks’ second in 10 games, a stretch that began with their Feb. 4 victory over the Nets. Despite their resurgence, the Knicks reached the season’s midpoint with a 16-17 record, having lost to two of the league’s worst teams in a four-day span.

“The energy wasn’t right the whole night,” Coach D’Antoni said.

That may have been true but that energy might have been at a higher level had the chemistry between Lin and Anthony, along with Davis and Smith run smoother than it did.  Clearly, this was the first time these players had all been on the court at the same time. Their lack of familiarity was to be expected but still, the Knicks find themselves below .500 (16-17) at the season’s midway point, such as it is in the 66-game schedule.

Anthony might have been a touch defensive when he discussed his and Lin’s role in the offense.

“I want Jeremy to have the ball,” Anthony said. “Hands down, I want him to have the ball. I want him to create for me. I want him to create for Amar’e. I want him to create for everybody and still be aggressive, as he’s been over the past two weeks. I want that.”

Somehow, you get the feeling all of those words of support for his new point guard will disappear into old habits when the Knicks bog down. It’s hard for a tiger to change its stripes.

The Knicks caught a break when Williams picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. He went to the bench with 7 minutes 42 seconds left to play, and an 11-point lead.

Amar’e Stoudemire’s 3-point play — set up by a slick pass from Anthony — cut the deficit to 85-77 with 7:36 to go. But the Nets quickly pulled away again, extending the lead to 13 points after a 3-point play by Kris Humphries.

It was a tense evening. Anthony and Tyson Chandler both drew technical fouls for separate incidents involving Humphries — Anthony for tripping him in the third quarter, Chandler for tussling and jawing in the fourth. Humphries, unmoved, walked away with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

“Nervous and tired and ornery,” D’Antoni said of his team, “and we just don’t like getting beat.”

That’s a good sign for D’Antoni’s team. They are developing a little toughness and team comraderie but with just half the season remaining,  after two difficult upcoming games against Atlanta, at home and with Miami on Thursday in South Beach, the Knicks could easily drop to 16-19 with All-Star Weekend looming unless that chemistry gets accelerated.

 

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