Deron Williams Sets NBA Record: 9 1st-Half 3s!
In an iconic moment at Barclays Center, Nets point guard Deron Williams set an NBA record with nine three-pointers in the first half of Friday's game against the Washington Wizards, including a staggering 7-of-7 start. He finished the half 9-of-11, pushing his point total to 33 – even with the entire Wizards team.
BROOKLYN—On Friday at Barclays Center, even Trevor Ariza closing in, all length and proper rotation, was not enough to dissuade Deron Williams. There existed enough daylight to shoot, and his first six threes had swished clean.
But Ariza’s arms proved longer than anticipated, and the Nets’ point guard bailed out of the shot, dropping the ball into a half-dribble that earned him a whistle for traveling. Williams turned upcourt, laughing at himself and the unforced error, at the crowd’s delirious disappointment and their unbelievably elevated expectations.
Williams did not leave them wanting for long.
He soon hit a layup, and then another three, finally missing on a pullup jumper. After an extended eight-minute breather, Williams returned and hit two more triples before the end of the half, setting an NBA record with nine.
“He was hotter than fish grease,” said teammate Reggie Evans.
By game’s end, Williams had racked up 42 points on 15-of-24 shooting, including 11-of-16 from three-point range, breaking a Nets franchise record previously held by Vince Carter (9 vs. Memphis on Dec. 11, 2006). The performance culminated Williams’ season-long ascendance into an elite long-distance shooter; his three-point percentage has increased each month, from .269 in November on through .329 (December), .420 (January), .490 (February) and now .538 in four March games.
The re-establishment of Williams’ top-tier shooting touch has helped unleash the point guard’s full floor game. Since undergoing platlet-rich plasma therapy, receiving a cortisone shot in each ankle and partaking in a three-day juice cleanse during the All-Star break, Williams has averaged 23.8 points and 7.0 assists in nine games while shooting .480 from the field and .530 from three-point range.
Once defenders are forced to play up on Williams, his change-of-pace dribble and vicious double-crossover become balance-robbing weapons of driving destruction. Williams also began to incorporate an upfake during the second half, leaving eager-to-contest defenders flying past as he drove toward the rim, creating a layup or open shot.
“I could just tell after those first two threes it was going to be a long night for the Wizards,” said teammate Keith Bogans.
Washington’s Martell Webster, who joined Ariza, John Wall and Garrett Temple in guarding Williams for stretches, bristled postgame. Saying his focus was on winning the game by getting stops altogether, not just locking down an individual, Webster praised the Wizards’ second-half defensive performance, noting Williams scored only nine points after intermission.
But Williams dished out all five of his assists in the final two quarters, accounting for more than half of his teammates’ eight field on a night they struggled to support the standout offensive performance. Evans provided the most auxiliary energy, pulling down a career-high 24 rebounds to go with 11 points, earning raucous chants and a standing ovation from the Barclays Center crowd.
The fans remained on their feet through the final buzzer, cheering on Williams through his missed final attempt and postgame interview. There had been no sign this night would be different than all other nights, Williams explained, not until the game tipped off and the first few began to fall:
“I just found myself really open. They were helping off me and going under screens. I hit the first couple, and those shots – when they leave your hand – you feel like they’re good. So I just kept shooting.”
Visit the Nets vs. Wizards Game Center for more from Friday's game.