Nets point guard Deron Williams makes a free throw during...

Nets point guard Deron Williams makes a free throw during his team's loss to Phoenix in Newark, N.J. (Feb. 28, 2011) Credit: AP

NEWARK - The Nets did their best to turn Deron Williams' first home game at the Prudential Center into a celebration Monday night.

A 65-foot mural-like banner with Williams' likeness was draped over the side of a skyscraper adjacent to the arena. T-shirts with Williams' No. 8 were given to the first 10,000 fans. And celebrity owner Jay-Z and Beyoncé were sitting in their seats of honor next to the Nets' bench.

What the Nets couldn't do was sell out the Prudential Center - or get their first win of the Williams era. They suffered a 104-103 overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns in front of 15,836 fans.

Williams, who had 13 points and 18 assists, missed a 5-footer at the end of the game. For a second, it looked as though Kris Humphries put back the offensive rebound to win it, but officials ruled he hadn't beat the buzzer.

The fourth quarter ended in an equally bizarre fashion. Anthony Morrow scored nine points - two three-pointers and then three free throws when he was fouled on a three-pointer - in the final 22 seconds.

"We really battled," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "What a game tonight. They're disappointed that we came up on the losing end. It would have been a great story for Deron's shot to go down for us at the end of the game."

But it wasn't to be. The Nets are 0-3 since they sent guard Devin Harris, forward Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and $3 million to Utah for Williams, a two-time All-Star.

Considering that Williams can become a free agent after next season, some think the Nets paid a hefty price to possibly rent a player for a year and a half.

The Nets, however, are gambling that they can convince Williams to stick around and become the centerpiece of their team, which eventually will move to Brooklyn.

Before they can worry about that, however, the Nets have to find a way to get their talented young point guard to mesh with a team that was 17-40 when he arrived. In Williams' first two games with New Jersey, the Nets were beaten at San Antonio, 106-96, and at Houston, 123-108.

Williams has been playing with a sore right wrist. He briefly left Monday night's game in the fourth quarter with a bruised left hand, and Johnson said it will be evaluated Tuesday.

Johnson said it could take a week to 10 days before he can get Williams and his teammates in an offense in which they all feel comfortable.

The Nets, who headed to London Monday night for two games against Toronto, have not held a full practice since Williams joined the team.

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