Williams hits NBA-record nine first-half 3s in Nets win
NEW YORK — Deron Williams already had five 3-pointers in less than five minutes when he pulled up in transition well behind the line, just to see how hot he really was.
“Yeah, it was a heat check,” Williams said. “I think I should have shot another one after that, too.”
That probably would have fallen as well.
Williams made an NBA-record nine 3-pointers in the first half, finished with 11 and scored a season-high 42 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 95-78 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Williams made his first eight shots behind the arc, became the first player in a decade to match the opposing team’s score in the first half, and was one shy of the NBA record of 12 3-pointers as the Nets opened a huge early lead and coasted.
He missed from straightaway with 1:08 left in the game, leaving him one shy of the record shared by Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall.
“It kind of reminded me of my days when I first got in the league when I played with Ray Allen,” said Nets forward Reggie Evans, referring to the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers.
Williams had four 3-pointers before Washington even made a basket, his fourth giving the Nets a 16-0 lead before Nene finally got Washington on the board. Williams answered right back with one, and then clearly realizing he was in the zone, pulled up from 25 feet on a fast break and nailed it to make it 22-2.
“He hit six 3s that quick. We wasn’t making shots all night,” Wizards guard John Wall said. “For him to six 3s and you’re not scoring, three points add up quicker than two. That’s 18 right there. It’s kind of tough to get through that when you’re not making any shots.”
Evans had 11 points and a career-high 24 rebounds while making 5 of 16 free throws for the Nets, earning a standing ovation for his efforts.
Brook Lopez also scored 11 points the Nets, who go right back on the road Saturday for a big game at Atlanta, one of teams they are battling for fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Wall had 16 points for the Wizards, who played without rookie guard Bradley Beal, their leading scorer, because of a sprained left ankle and lost for the fourth time in five games.
Brooklyn plays only four of its 15 games this month at home, with lengthy time away for the A-10 tournament and then the circus.
The Nets celebrated Latin Night on Friday, with starting lineups announced in Spanish, and then Williams treated fans to a performance that was simply en fuego.
He finally missed a jumper with 3:21 left in the first period and departed with 23 points, and the Nets led 38-14 after their highest-scoring first period of the season.
“Deron, he was hot like fish grease,” Evans said. “He was hot, so he kind of kicked it off and we just kept it going throughout the game.”
Williams checked back in with 7:17 remaining in the half and needed less than a minute to reach 8 for 8, and his streak ended when he was short on a step-back attempt from beyond the arc with 5:50 to go.
But when he struck again with 1:07 to go, he and the Wizards were deadlocked at 33, and he just missed outscoring them for the half when missed an open 3-pointer off an inbounds pass with 0.7 seconds to go.
“I hit the first couple and just they were those shots where when they leave your hand they feel like they’re good, and so I just kept shooting them,” Williams said.
Tracy McGrady is the last player to equal or surpass the opposing team in the first half when he outscored the Denver Nuggets 37-32 on March 9, 2003, according to STATS.
Washington cut Brooklyn’s 59-33 halftime lead to 74-58 after three, and tried to get closer by intentionally fouling Evans, who came in shooting 50.4 percent at the line. He missed five in a row at one point, including an airball that might’ve been 2 feet short.
But with fans standing and booming chants of “Reggie! Reggie!” filling Barclays Center, he eventually hit two in a row on one trip before exiting.
“I was enjoying the moment, didn’t matter if I missed it or made it and stuff, because I was already confident we were going to win the game,” Evans said, “so I was just excited.”
Williams then knocked down one more 3, equaling Stephen Curry for the most in the NBA this season, but couldn’t add another.
“He put on a shooting show, the nine 3s that he hit,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “It’s hard to get the ball out of his hands because he’s in transition just coming up on the 3-point line. He got hot. I don’t know if I’ve seen him quite like that before in a game.
“It was just a hell of a shooting display.”
It was by far the best performance of the season for the two-time Olympian, who didn’t even make the All-Star game after signing a five-year extension worth more than $98 million last summer and shooting only 30 percent on 3s before the new year.
But he’s been back at his regular level since sitting out a pair of games last month to get treatment on his ankles.
The Nets came in averaging 10.1 3-pointers over the past nine games, but Williams got there himself. He finished 11 of 16 behind the arc, occasionally holding three fingers in the air as he headed back down the floor.
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