With Deron Williams out, Tyshawn Taylor leads Nets' overtime win over Pacers
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The theme of Nets general manager Billy King's comments before the game, when he was explaining why franchise cornerstone Deron Williams will be out for two games with an ongoing ankle condition, could be summed up this way: It's not the end of the world.
Sure enough, after a full game and an overtime period at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against a powerhouse home team, the whole day almost felt like the start of something. The Nets' resilient, balanced and clutch 89-84 overtime win over the Pacers Monday night just might have been the opening that could launch Tyshawn Taylor's career.
Taylor, a rookie and third-string point guard, ran the show down the stretch, steering the Nets back from a four-point deficit with a minute and a half left in regulation, hitting two big shots in overtime and relishing a rare mass interview afterward, explaining how he had a career-high 12 points on a day that cried out for a lift from somebody.
"Honestly, I don't know if he went into this game saying, 'All right, we're going to play Tyshawn X amount of minutes,' " the rookie said, referring to interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. "I kind of felt he was going to put me out there and see how it went. That's why I'm even happier, because I made the most of that."
Joe Johnson, who tied it with 13 seconds left in regulation, said, "Other guys had to step up and play big minutes. When one guy goes down, it's an opportunity for the next."
That is pretty much what King had said before the game at a time when the Nets needed a win after losing six of nine. And there is no guarantee that the planets are going to keep moving just right for the Nets, either.
Williams is the player around whom the renovated, relocated franchise was built, and he just hasn't been himself. It is not clear whether he has lost a step or if his condition, synovitis, an inflammation in both ankles, has hindered him greatly. He had a cortisone shot in his left ankle before the season.
Williams received platelet-rich plasma treatment Monday and will be off until after the All-Star break. But who's to say that will cure him?
"He's frustrated because he knows he's not playing like he knows he's capable of playing. This will give him a chance to get some time off, get some rest, get back to playing," King said.
"Don't," the GM added, "put the dirt on him and say his career is over at 28."
King was adamant that other players would have to step up. Many did Monday night.
After Monday night's starter, C.J. Watson, had another bad night (0-for-7 from the floor), Carlesimo handed the keys to the team to the kid. The coach had noticed that Taylor thrives on situations that challenge him. Johnson put it another way: "He's fearless."
Taylor knows that he usually plays sparingly at best, and feels he has to always be at his best.
"It's almost like walking a tightrope," Taylor said. "You make one wrong move, you're out. But I guess that's the challenge. I've learned over my playing career that when I go into a game thinking I don't want to mess up is when I mess up the most. So I'm just going to go out there and play."
So there it was, a most unlikely ending for a Nets day that started so poorly: Taylor reached the end of his tightrope.
Notes & quotes: Former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine, a lifelong Indiana resident, performed the national anthem on the harmonica . . . Brooklyn resident Lance Stephenson, who starred at Lincoln High School, had 14 points in 40 minutes for the Pacers and is unfazed about the prospect of losing his hard-earned starting spot to Danny Granger, who is expected back from a knee injury this week or next. Said Stephenson, "I feel like any role the coaches want me to play, I feel like I can succeed at. With Danny coming back, I feel like we're going to be a better team. As long as him coming back helps the team, I'm cool with it."