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While the lasting headline will be that the sophomores’ winning streak reached six games in Friday’s 136-109 handling of the rookies in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, the rookie who does everything his own way had every aspect of his game on display and provided an excellent sideshow.
“I wanted to come out there and do me,” Williams said after the game, hunched at a table in the corner of the media mix zone with a mischievous grin on his face.
Do him, he did indeed.
The 6-10 center pumped in 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting and snagged 10 rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
“This is a showcase of skills and it was great just to go out there and have fun and play basketball with some of the best young talent in the NBA,” Williams said.
“Man, I felt like I was in a rec gym or something out there today.”
Nobody plays basketball quite the same way that Williams plays basketball. No one person at least.
After spending most of the morning shoot around taking running jumpers where he would traipse through the air like a ballerina, Williams decided that the first shot of the day he’d take in the actual game would be a 15-foot jumper.
He made it.
The rest of his points came on what you’d expect from a big man with springs: put backs, dunks and one spectacular put-back dunk where Williams grabbed the defensive rebound, pushed the ball up the floor, dribbled behind his back to elude a defender and then threw it of the glass to himself so he could hammer it home left handed.
“I don’t think even he knew what he was doing,” said Rudy Gay who finished with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting and probably would have been the game’s MVP if it wasn’t for Daniel Gibson’s blistering display from downtown. Gilbson went 11-for-20 from deep in scoring a game-high 33 points.
Turns out Rudy was right. After the game, Williams couldn’t even describe what he did.
“I don’t even remember that play, I really don’t,” Williams said. “I can’t wait to watch the replay, though.”
Rookie teammate Jamario Moon (13 points) remembered it, “That’s why he’s in the league. He got talent.”
Asides from talent, Moon recognizes that Williams has his own unique way about him.
“Sean is Sean,” Moon said. “We know that Sean is going to go out there and he’s going to clown around. He’s just a kid at heart.”
Even with his “clowning around,” Williams’ play in the first half carried the rookie team. Williams scored 12 of his 17 points in the first 15 minutes of the game and the game was tight, 43-40.
The Nets’ No. 17 pick in the 2007 Draft wasn’t the only rookie to shine, but he might have been the most unexpected.
Kevin Durant is supposed to lead the team in scoring, as he did with 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting. And Al Horford puts up games that feature stat lines like the 19 points he had on 8-for-10 shooting and seven rebounds on the regular.
Sean? Well, he’s just supposed to be Sean.