Deron Williams, Brook Lopez spur Nets to blowout win in Game 1
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"I was like, 'Whoa,' " the Nets power forward said. "I was like, 'Whoa, are you serious?' I was shocked, you know what I'm saying? Usually, when that happens, I'll turn and still go get the rebound just in case they miss it. But when he did it, I was like, 'Whoa.' "
Of course, Evans' depiction of Williams' highlight reel-worthy slam probably would perfectly sum up the opinions of many when they saw the 106-89 beatdown the Nets put on the Bulls in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Saturday night.
They didn't just settle in against the Bulls. The Nets jumped into their bathrobes, kicked their feet up and raided the refrigerator like an unwanted house guest. They raced to a 25-point halftime lead and muscled their way to an impressive victory in front of a sellout Barclays Center crowd.
The Nets, who host Game 2 on Monday night in Brooklyn, collected their first playoff win since May 16, 2007, when they knocked off the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Not a bad way to start this whole new playoff thing in Brooklyn.
"Everybody was excited for this game," said Williams, who had 22 points, seven assists and three steals. "I think it's been a long time coming for this franchise, this organization, with the move and everything. We expected to be here. So we came out playing like we wanted to be here and we were locked in today from shootaround, really focused on the plays and getting our schemes right, and it just carried over to tonight."
Williams and Brook Lopez set the tone from the get-go in a game the Nets led by as many as 28 points. The duo totaled 21 of the Nets' 25 first-quarter points, outscoring Chicago -- which mustered only 14 points -- all by themselves. Making his playoff debut, Lopez had 21 points, canned 7 of 15 shots and dominated inside.
"I was excited," Lopez said. "I was very anxious. I was waiting for this for a while. I was so pleased with the results. It was electric, it was so much fun. The team was playing at a high level."
Williams, one of the hottest players in the league since the All-Star break, again was unconscious, shooting 9-for-15. He dissected the Bulls' defensive scheme with relative ease at times, knifing his way to the basket to either toss up a shot or find an open teammate.
His dunk on the one-man break near the end of the third quarter helped the Nets grab an 89-62 lead heading into the fourth quarter and sent the amped-up crowd into a frenzy.
"It just happened," Williams said. "I was trying to show the guys in the NBA that I might be able to compete in the dunk contest next year." After the laughter died down, he added: "My legs feel good, my ankles feel good right now. I'm just excited to be back in the playoffs, so it was a little bit of that."
The Nets shot 55.8 percent from the floor for the game, including 16-for-20 in a 35-point second quarter that broke open the game. They also were superior on the interior, outscoring Chicago 56-36 and converting 28 of 38 attempts, looking nothing like a team that had dropped three of four regular-season contests to the Bulls.
"We've been confident against Chicago," Gerald Wallace said. "We felt like we've always matched up with them pretty good, even in the regular season. We just felt like we never played a consistent 48 minutes or played a typical 48 minutes of Brooklyn basketball, and I think tonight, that's what we did."