Nets point guard Deron Williams stole the show Monday night at Madison Square Garden, hitting a career-high eight three-pointers and scoring 38 points to lead the limping Nets to a 100-92 win over the red-hot Knicks.
Williams, widely considered one of the best point guards in the game, has been pretty much forgotten in the tri-state area in the last few weeks because of the sudden explosion of Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. Monday night, Williams looked determined to show a sellout crowd just how good he is. He outplayed Lin and everyone else on the floor before fouling out with 3:07 remaining.
How dominant was Williams? In the third quarter, he scored 10 points in 45 seconds -- a four-point play and two more three-point baskets -- to give the Nets a 75-59 lead. After three quarters, he had 36 points. "I definitely had this one circled," Williams said. "Lin-sanity started on me."
Williams was on hand for the birth of Lin-sanity 16 days earlier when Lin came off the bench to score 25 points and lead the Knicks to a comeback victory over the Nets. In that game, Lin, a virtually unknown fourth-string point guard, outplayed Williams. Entering Monday night's game, he had led the Knicks to eight victories in nine games and drawn nationwide attention.
Williams said it was hard to read Twitter after that game.
"Every three lines was Jeremy Lin destroys Deron Williams," he said. "I definitely took offense to that . . . I watched the tape and I didn't feel like I got destroyed."
Williams is in the final year of his contract with the Nets, who hope to use him as the foundation of their team as they move to Brooklyn next season. Before Monday night's game, Nets coach Avery Johnson was asked if he thought Williams was looking to prove something. "He probably is," Johnson said. "The key for Deron is that he would rather score two points for us to win than for him to have 50 points and we don't win."
It was clear before the game that not everyone in the building had come down with an incurable case of Lin-sanity.
"I got a question from my own daughter about whether Lin was in Nash's category," Williams said, referring to perennial All-Star guard Steve Nash. "Look, we don't want to go there. It's only been nine games. Give the kid a chance to play a whole season and even play a playoff series before we start putting him in Nash's category."