LOS ANGELES - Looks as if the old Deron Williams is back.
Williams had a season-high 30 points along with seven assists and a career-high six steals to lead the Nets past the Lakers, 108-102, Sunday night at Staples Center. Playing with a noticeable bounce in his step, Williams engineered the offense beautifully and was a beast on defense.
"I'm feeling better, definitely feeling better confidence-wise, health-wise,'' he said, "and so hopefully I can continue.''
Paul Pierce had 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Nets (26-28). Pau Gasol led the Lakers (19-37) with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Williams' layup with 1:13 left put the Nets up 101-93 and sent home many of the 18,997 fans who witnessed Jason Collins' historic night. Collins, the first openly gay player to take part in an NBA game, was scoreless and had two rebounds in 10:37.
It was the Nets' first win here over the Lakers since 2007, when Jason Kidd was playing for the team he now coaches.
Without Kevin Garnett (rest), Shaun Livingston (bruised tailbone) and Marcus Thornton (food poisoning), the Nets were shorthanded, but they didn't play like it, moving ahead 69-50 in the third quarter. The Lakers got within 89-85 with 7:36 left, but the Nets held lthem off.
Williams, whose jumper gave the Nets a 31-12 lead, said of the win, "It was huge, and that start we had was great. I think that was instrumental in the win tonight. We jumped on them early and they made their little run and we kept it within four, six points and we were able to close it out. And so it was definitely big after the loss last night where we thought we could have won the game and to bounce back against a team that was sitting there waiting on us.''
The Nets evened their record at 2-2 on a seven-game trip that continues Wednesday night in Portland.
Regarding improving their record to 3-10 in the second game of back-to-backs and coming out the way they did early, Pierce said, "It was something we talked about last night. So we came together as a team and just tried to talk about everything that was going on with the back-to-back situation, the publicity of Jason [Collins] coming in. So we were really prepared for the blitz of all this coming our way and I'm happy with the way we responded.''