EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The guy with the noticeable newfound bounce in his step can finally throw one down again.
Whether Deron Williams actually finds himself going up for a dunk in a real game -- like when the Nets (34-26) meet the Bobcats (13-47) in Charlotte Wednesday night -- is another story. The last, and only time, that he tried it this season, the Clippers' Blake Griffin stuffed him with ease, causing Williams to crash to the floor on his right elbow, creating one of the myriad injuries he's dealt with this season.
So should everyone expect to see him take off for a nasty one-hander any time soon?
"I don't know," Williams cracked after practice Tuesday. "I'm still nervous."
In relative NBA terms, the Nets' 6-3 point guard saying he's able to rise to the rim would usually get a collective yawn. But with the Nets' 28-year-old face of the franchise, who signed a five-year, $98-million deal in July, so banged up all season, it represents a milestone of sorts.
The platelet rich plasma therapy procedure he received to calm the inflammation in both ankles leading into the All-Star break, paired with the February round of cortisone shots and a three-day juice cleanse, apparently has taken affect. The pain, he said, has subsided.
"My ankles don't hurt," Williams said. "We finally got the injections in the right spot and they feel a little bit better. I can actually walk up and down stairs. I can run around with my kids. I can go to the playground with them. I don't have to hurt every time I take a single step. So, yeah, I feel a lot better."
In the Nets' seven games since the All-Star break, Williams is averaging 21.7 points, 7.1 assists, and connecting on 45.5 percent of his three-pointers. He appears to be in better shape, too, and took a juice cleanser for a few days during his weeklong break last month.
"It helps your energy," Williams said. "It definitely helps your strength and gets a lot of the bad toxins out of your system. That's the main thing."
Too bad the Nets' can't cleanse themselves of their troublesome third-quarter problems. Their average of 21.7 points in the period ranks them dead last in the league and they've been outscored by 122 points. Williams even recently asked P.J. Carlesimo to cut back on the interim coach's halftime locker room speeches so they could have more warm-up time.
"But it didn't work," he said with a smile.
Nothing has and that's why Williams remains befuddled by their poor showings in third quarters. "I wish I knew why. If we knew it would be easy to correct, but for whatever reason we just come out flat."
Perhaps a third-quarter Williams' dunk would do the trick.