PORTLAND, Ore. - Shaun Livingston never enjoys taking a seat, and the competitor in him gets all worked up any time he's not allowed to be on the floor.
However, there was one benefit to the Nets' guard being entrenched on the Staples Center bench Sunday night nursing a bruised tailbone: He witnessed another vintage Deron Williams performance and was able to get a much better gauge on just how well the Nets' $98-million point guard is playing since the All-Star break.
"It's good," Livingston said Wednesday night before returning from his one-game absence. "He's playing with a nice pace, a nice rhythm. Being out last game gave me a chance to kind of watch that, and hopefully he continues just to stay in that zone. Whatever I can do to help."
The Nets needed more help than Livingston or Williams could provide as they were blown out by the Trail Blazers, 124-80.
Williams totaled 12 points in 24:29, seeing little playing time as the Nets' starters sat for much of the game.
But Williams' numbers in his previous three games were eye-popping. He wass averaging 23 points, 6.7 assists, shooting 48 percent from the floor and had cut down his turnovers by one per game, losing the ball twice per contest.
He had shown some cat-like quickness on the defensive end, too, averaging 2.7 steals. In short, he looks nothing like the hesitant, seemingly always injured player he was before getting platelet-rich plasma therapy and injections in his ankles in early January. Sure looks like that little R & R he got over the All-Star break has worked wonders.
"I just relaxed and got away," said Williams, who's also worked with an osteopath to get some more movement in his ankles. "I was thinking too much, dealing with the injuries I've been dealing with. It's frustrating, it's depressing, it's aggravating all at the same time. So mentally it took a toll on me and it was good to get away, separate myself and have a couple of days to think about something else, play some golf."
Nets coach Jason Kidd points to Williams' energy level, underscoring how it hasn't wavered whether he makes a good play or a bad play.
"He's shooting the ball, he's finding people," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before the game. "He's got a bounce to his step, and he's a threat."
Without a doubt, Williams definitely appears to be enjoying himself again. "I've had fun, but I'm feeling better, mentally I'm feeling better," Williams said. "So it's been a lot of fun playing like that."