Guard scores 35 points in Game 4, shooting 7-of-11 on 3s
POSTED: Apr 28, 2015 12:46 AM ET
Hawks vs. Nets Game 4
Deron Williams scored 35 points and dished out seven assists to help the Nets even the series versus the Hawks in OT, 120-115.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Deron Williams is not the easiest guy to rally around. He's kind of a grumpy dude and hasn't been the locker room leader that he's been paid to be for the Brooklyn Nets.
In an interview before the playoffs began, former teammate Paul Pierce took Williams to task in an ESPN interview, saying Williams didn't want to be an MVP candidate and that "the pressure [of the New York market] got to him."
Williams didn't respond, with words or with actions. He took the high road when asked about Pierce's comments and then averaged 6.0 points on 27 percent shooting in his team's first three games against the Atlanta Hawks.
Deron Williams Matches Playoff Career High 35 Points
Check out the highlights from Deron Williams who scores 35 points and dishes out seven assists in Brooklyn's Game 4 win over Atlanta.
Pierce, as his Washington Wizards were sweeping the "it"-less Toronto Raptors, looked like a genius. And the rest of the basketball world piled on. Williams was left for dead, and an internet meme featuring his face on a "Missing" poster had been revived.
But Williams' poor performance and the scrutiny he was under may have been a key in the Nets' tying this 1-8 series with a 120-115, overtime victory in Game 4 on Monday.
While the rest of the world was on the attack, Williams' coach and teammates played defense. Lionel Hollins pointed out Williams' contributions outside of his scoring. Joe Johnson disclosed that Williams was dealing with tendinitis pain. And Jarrett Jack kept in Williams' ear.
"I told him," Jack said after Monday's win, "that I believe in the law of averages. '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.'"
Now Jack looks like the genius.
Williams scored 35 points on Monday, breaking ankles and shooting 7-for-11 from 3-point range. He hit two threes early to get himself going. He hit three more in the fourth quarter as the Nets came back from eight points down, the biggest being a 27-foot, contested heave at the shot-clock buzzer that gave Brooklyn a lead with less than two minutes to go.
His teammates followed his lead. The Hawks' offense came alive after struggling through the first three games, but the Nets' moved the ball just as well. When Williams was trapped, he was willing to give up the ball, knowing it would find the open man. Six of the seven Nets who played more than five minutes had at least three assists.
Hollins, Williams Talk Game 4
Nets coach Lionel Hollins and Deron Williams discuss the great performance by Williams in Game 4.
Hollins has struggled to find an identity for his team all year. But the ball has moved much better over the last month. And maybe the best thing that could have happened to the coach was his point guard shooting 7-for-26 through three games. Well, until his point guard shot 13-for-25 in Game 4.
"It showed a lot of character to put on a performance like that," Hollins said. "And I'm excited about how the team rallied around him as well. That's what this is about. It was a huge, huge step in unity for our ball club."
"It definitely means a lot," Williams said of his coach's support in the media. "I thanked him today 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. It means a lot. It says a lot about him and how much he cares about, not only me, but this team and our players."
Suddenly, what looked like a lopsided, 1-8 matchup has turned into the most competitive series outside of Spurs-Clippers. And it's been somewhat entertaining, too.
The Hawks look vulnerable, the Nets look dangerous, the 82-game regular season looks somewhat meaningless, and grumpy Deron Williams has somehow galvanized the Nets' locker room at the most important time of the year.
"I think the locker room's in a great place right now," Williams said. "Definitely, the guys rallying around me means a lot. It just shows that we're coming together as a unit. It's taken a lot longer than we thought, a lot longer than we've hoped, but it's happened."
The Hawks still have home-court advantage, but anything can happen in the playoffs, like Deron Williams being the spark for a unified Nets locker room.
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