Williams Offers to Come Off the Bench in Rout of Knicks

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins
January 20, 2014

NEW YORK – There is a Progressive Insurance Company TV ad that I'm particularly fond of.

It features a man juggling chainsaws.

A spectator, empowered by his freedom to name his own price for car insurance, says, “I got this.” He wants to juggle chainsaws.

Which brings us to Brooklyn Nets’ coach Jason Kidd.

He's been juggling chainsaws since deciding to make the jump from NBA player to NBA coach without ever having spent a day on the bench as an assistant.

The Nets gave him the chance and they gave him a deep, talented roster boasting some surefire future Hall of Famers.

In the middle of training camp, GM Billy King pulled the cord on the chainsaws by saying the Nets’ window to win a title was now. Kidd's been juggling ever since.

He's had to juggle injuries. He's had to juggle his own inexperience. He's had to juggle his coaching staff. He's had to juggle his offensive and defensive schemes.

Thus far, the most glaring losses Kidd has suffered are to his tie – he now coaches without one – and his wallet. He was fined $50,000 for the spilled soda fiasco.

But after Monday's 103-80 dominating victory over the Knicks in The Garden, Kidd seems to have gotten the hang of this chainsaw juggling routine.

More important than the win that avenged a 30-point loss to the Knicks on Dec. 5 in Barclays Center, a win that lifted the Nets to 17-22, two and one-half games behind the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division, is the fact that Kidd has clearly earned this team's respect.

Why do we say that?

Deron Williams, the star player, the player this entire roster was built around, decided to come off the bench in his return from a sprained left ankle.

Yes, it was Williams who decided it was in the team's best interest to come off the bench.

"That was my idea," said Williams, who had 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 27 minutes.

"We've been playing so well with that lineup, why shake things up? It doesn't matter if I come off, start, whatever. The way Joe [Johnson's] been playing the first quarter, first half, I don't want to disrupt that."

Let's put this in perspective. Today was the first time Williams has come off the bench since his rookie season of 2005-06 when he was with the Utah Jazz.

In his five-game absence, the Nets went 4-1, the only loss coming at Toronto the night after a double OT win over the Miami Heat. The Nets just ran out of gas that night.

Williams was a keen observer to the Nets' success in 2014. He didn't want to throw a monkey wrench in the Brooklyn, small-ball machine. "I actually thought about it in Utah one time," Williams said about coming off the bench. "Our second group was struggling a little bit and I kind of wanted to come off the bench to help out a little bit."

"I've never been a person to care about that type of thing. It's not a big deal."

The way Williams described it, his conversation with Kidd on Sunday in which he stated his desire to NOT start, was not a big deal at all.

Williams said: I want to come off the bench.

Kidd: Whatever you want to do.

Williams: OK, good talking.

Kidd: See you tomorrow.

This is what Nets fans saw. They saw their team win for the seventh time in eight games.

They saw Joe Johnson playing like an All Star, scorching the hapless Knicks for 25 points on 4-of-8 shooting on 3s.

They saw Andray Blatche score 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting with 12 rebounds.

They saw the Nets play their best defense of the season, holding the Knicks to 80 points, the fewest by a Nets’ opponent this season.

They saw the Nets hold the Knicks to 33.8 percent shooting, the lowest of the season for a Nets’ opponent.

They saw the Nets hold the Knicks to a paltry 24 field goals, the fewest of the season for a Nets’ opponent.

They saw the Nets hold the Knicks to 13 assists, the fewest by a Nets’ opponent this season.

They saw the Nets hold the Knicks to 20 points in the paint, the fewest for a Nets’ opponent this season.

And best of all, they heard the haunting chants of 'Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!' in the World's Quietest Arena.

"Obviously when we first played them, they embarrassed us," said Kevin Garnett. "So obviously we needed to come back and get payback, and kind of redeem ourselves because lately we've been playing better basketball and today was a great job of what we've been doing lately."

What the Nets have been doing is winning, winning with the kind of smart, selfless play that is expected of them.

The two future Hall of Famers – Garnett and Paul Pierce – combined for just 9 points and 10 rebounds. They do not need to be the star of the show. They care the show is the star.

Williams has clearly embraced this as well. He saw Pierce come off the bench earlier this season after returning from a broken bone in his hand.

That was Kidd's decision. Williams says his coming off the bench was his decision but it doesn't matter who made the call. What matters is that the Nets are speaking with one voice and playing with one purpose.

"All in all, he's embedded in our minds what he wants," Garnett said of Kidd. "He continues to continuously give us a better understanding of his system and what he wants versus taking everybody's advice.

"I think for the first time he's taken it upon himself: ‘This is what I want.’ We all understand that."

Williams was asked if he would be OK continuing to come off the bench.

"Why not?" he said. "Why not?"

Why not, indeed. The Nets are winning. Suddenly it seems as if juggling chainsaws is possible.

Nets Central

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