The Brooklyn Nets picked up their 15th consecutive home win on Friday night and Deron Williams continued to show a keen ability to contribute to the team's performance in a variety of ways.
D-Will showcased his entire skillset and contributed all over the floor as he guided his team to a 116-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The win was a solid bounce back from the team's blowout loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday and Deron credited that revival to the team's defense.
"That's where it starts and that's where we have to pride ourselves," he said. "We didn't against New York, they shoot 60 percent and we lose."
Brooklyn was much better than that defensively in the win over Detroit, their first defeat of the Pistons this season. The Nets limited their opponents from Motown to 46 percent shooting from the floor, outrebounded them 28-23 and forced nine Pistons turnovers. Two of those turnovers were forced by D-Will, who extended his league-leading streak of games with a takeaway to 25 with a pair of steals.
No. 8 recorded the first of those takeaways less than a minute into the contest on a bad pass by Josh Smith. He then dished to Shaun Livingston who then scored Brooklyn's first points of the contest. The assist was one of Deron's game-high 10 dimes in the win.
He added another just a few moments later when he dished to Andray Blatche, who hit a long jumper to give the Nets a 9-8 lead. The teams battled back and forth for the entirety of the quarter with neither able to break ahead by more than six points. At the end of the first, the score was deadlocked at 22-22.
At the start of the second, Brooklyn found another gear to take control of the contest.
Reserve sharpshooter Mirza Teletovic was a huge factor in Brooklyn's second quarter success as he scored 11 points in the frame including three big triples. The first of those led off the quarter just 12 seconds in and gave the Nets the lead for good.
Teletovic scored eight points in the first 2:01 of the second to stake the Nets to an eight-point lead and D-Will extended that edge to double digits for Brooklyn when he connected on a long trey just 3:34 into the second.
Brooklyn continued to pour it on from there, with No. 8 serving as lead playmaker. On consecutive Nets possessions, he set up Joe Johnson, then Marcus Thornton, then Teletovic and finally Johnson again, all for triples. Johnson's second of the bunch capped 29-9 run for Brooklyn in the first 6:48 of the quarter to take a 20-point lead.
Though the second quarter run featured some lights out shooting — the Nets shot 68.4 percent from the floor and 70 percent from three in the second, it was predicated on the play of the Nets defense. Brooklyn forced Detroit into tough shots, of which they made just 38.5 percent in the second and their misses allowed No. 8 to do what he does best: get out in transition and facilitate.
"I thought we did a great job of clogging the paint and making them shoot jumpers," D-Will said. "We can live with contested jumpers. If we rebound, we turn those into fast break points."
Despite a run by the Pistons late in the half, the Nets led by double digits at halftime, 57-45.
No. 8 played facilitator again early in the third, dishing the ball to Livingston for a dunk and then Pierce for a three to put Brooklyn up 14 just a few minutes into the half. On the next Nets possession after those two assists, D-Will took control himself when he blew by all five Pistons with a commanding drive to the hoop for a dunk to put his team up 16.
Detroit was able to creep within 10 points, but with a little over five minutes remaining in the third, Deron made the plays to put the game out of reach.
It started with his second steal, when he picked the pocket of Brandon Jennings and finished on the other end with a driving layup that also drew contact from Jennings. D-Will completed the three-point play at the line to push Brooklyn's lead back out to 14.
On Detroit's ensuing possession, it was Teletovic who got the steal and No. 8 rewarded him on the other end, dishing off to Mirza for an open three that put the Nets back up by 17. The two teamed up one more time with four seconds left in the third, when Deron found Teletovic for his 10th assist and Mirza's sixth trey of the night, to put Brooklyn up 91-69 entering the fourth.
With the game well in hand, Coach Jason Kidd gave D-Will the rest of the night off so that his point man would be fully rested and ready for Saturday's road matchup in Philly. The Nets bench closed out the game, pushing the lead as high as 21 before settling in for the 12-point win.
"The bench was great for us tonight," Deron said afterward. "They allowed for me and Joe to get some rest in the fourth, which is always helpful on back-to-backs. They've done a great job all season of giving us a lift, closing out games. We've talked about how much they mean to our success."
Among those contributors off the bench was Andrei Kirilenko, who returned after a six-game absence due to an ankle injury to play nearly 20 minutes.
"It was good to have AK back tonight and [Marcus] Thornton back for the second straight game," D-Will said. "We need those guys to get a rhythm for the playoffs."
The Nets departed Brooklyn on Friday night with their 15th consecutive home win and headed for Philadelphia to take on the Sixers Saturday night, and to hear D-Will tell it after Friday's game, they'll need to channel the energy they got from their home crowd to pick up a key road win in Philly.
"We definitely are comfortable here," he told reporters inside the Barclays Center locker room. "I don't think we're uncomfortable on the road, I just think we have to find a way to be a good road team. You don't have the crowd behind you. You don't have that extra pickup. You have to create that yourself."
The Nets will look for that down south as they seek to take the season series from the basement-dwelling Sixers in the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. Deron has played in each of the previous three meetings and has season averages of 17 points and 7.7 assists per game against Philadelphia.
On December 16th, in a 130-94 Nets rout of the Sixers at Barclays Center, No. 8 set a season-high with 13 assists. He followed that up with another season-high in dimes, 14, four days later in Philadelphia, but Brooklyn lost that game 121-120 in overtime.
The Nets got a measure of revenge with a 108-103 victory over Philly on February 3rd in Brooklyn behind 21 points from D-Will and they'll have a chance to end the season series with another victory on Saturday.
Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on YES Network.
- Notes: Nets' shooting stars at Barclays (ESPN New York, April 4, 2014)
- Nets get into good offensive groove (Newsday, April 4, 2014)
- Shaun Livingston helps Nets breeze by Pistons (NY Daily News, April 5, 2014)
- Nets earn 15th-straight victory at Barclays (NY Post, April 4, 2014)
- Nets win 15th straight at home (Nets Daily, April 4, 2014)
- Nets stay hot at home with 116-104 win over Pistons (The Record, April 4, 2014)
- 15 Straight At Home: Nets 116, Pistons 104 (The Brooklyn Game, April 4, 2014)
- Teletovic the Nets' x-factor heading into playoffs (Examiner.com, April 4, 2014)