When there’s D-Will there’s a way.
That was a saying that became popular when Deron Williams became a star at the University of Illinois and then later when he became one of the top point guards in the NBA with the Utah Jazz. That version of Williams hasn’t appeared very often in a Brooklyn Nets uniform, but it made a timely appearance in Game 4 against the Atlanta Hawks. Williams scored 35 points in a thrilling 120-115 overtime victory that has shockingly knotted up the series at 2-2.
Williams has taken a lot of heat in this series for his no-shows, and considering he scored just five points combined in Games 2 and 3 and also missed a key shot late in a close Game 2 loss, the criticism was well deserved. After those two disappointing efforts, the point guard made it a point to come out strong in Game 4, scoring 11 points in the first quarter as the Nets grabbed a one-point lead.
Williams was quiet over the next two quarters, and it seemed that the Hawks had finally found their mojo after struggling offensively in the first three games of the series. Atlanta had 82 points through three quarters on 52.4 percent shooting overall and 52.6 percent from three, and with an eight-point lead heading into the final frame, the Hawks looked well on their way to a 3-1 series lead.
But then Williams came alive in the fourth quarter, bringing back memories of when he fueled Illinois’ epic comeback against Arizona in the 2005 Elite Eight. He exploded for 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the quarter as the Nets stormed back, and that included going 4-of-4 from three. One of those threes was just ridiculous:
That wild three put the Nets up a point with just under two minutes to play, and that lead stretched to three after a Williams steal and Brook Lopez basket off a Williams dish. Things didn’t go well the rest of regulation for Williams, as he was blocked by Paul Millsap at the rim and missed a potential go-ahead bucket in the final seconds with the game tied. Williams took the shot way too early, giving the Hawks time to possibly win the game, but Atlanta failed to get a shot off.
The Hawks took several leads in the overtime period, but the Nets answered each basket and took a three-point lead with 54 seconds left on a bucket by Thaddeus Young. Kyle Korver had three straight opportunities to tie the game, but the sharpshooter couldn’t convert on any of them, and Williams helped ice the game at the line to get his 35 points.
When it was all said and done, Williams shot 13-of-25 overall and 7-of-11 from long range. In addition to his 35 points, he had seven assists, five rebounds, three steals and only two turnovers. Just a vintage Williams performance that came when the Nets needed it most.
Williams certainly wasn’t alone in pulling off another upset of Atlanta. Lopez poured in 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting and notched a double-double by grabbing 10 boards. All five Nets starters scored in double figures, while Alan Anderson added 11 points off the bench. Brooklyn shot 14-of-31 from deep, with Williams obviously playing a big part in that.
This series now shifts back to Atlanta with all the pressure on the 60-win Hawks. Atlanta has looked vulnerable all series long, and now they face a best-of-three against a Nets squad brimming with confidence. The home-court advantage is big for the Hawks, but they’ll have to play better to pull out this series.