Williams, who came into the game averaging 21.7 points per game, shot 16 of 29 from the field and was a perfect 21 for 21 from the free-throw line.
Williams’ broke the franchise’s previous mark of 52 points, shared by Mike Newlin and Ray Richardson. It was the second-most points scored against the Bobcats, one shy of Kobe Bryant’s 58 in 2006.
The Nets trailed by eight at halftime but took the lead thanks to Williams, who scored 22 points in the third quarter when he simply dominated Charlotte’s smaller guards D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker.
Williams did just about everything right, adding six rebounds and seven assists. He also converted a four-point play after getting fouled while knocking down a 3-pointer from the wing.
His previous career high was 42 points on April 6, 2010, against Oklahoma City. He scored 38 points in a game last month.
With the Nets leading 96-94 with 1:04 remaining, Kris Humphries missed two free throws but Sheldon Williams got a key momentum-turning rebound and called timeout. Deron Williams hit a big jumper to give the Nets a four-point lead and Sheldon Williams followed by converting a three-point play off a pretty pass from Jordan Farmar.
The Bobcats would cut the lead to two with 3.5 seconds left, but MarShon Brooks knocked down one of two free throws with 1.7 seconds left. The Bobcats had a final chance to tie the game but Augustin’s off-balanced heave from 20 feet didn’t hit the rim.
The Nets got 11 points and 13 rebounds from Humphries to win their 12th game this season.
The Bobcats led by as many as 16 in the first half, the first time they’ve held a double-digit lead since Feb. 4 at Phoenix.
The Bobcats, who have the NBA’s worst record, scored 100 points for the first time in 22 games. They hadn’t reached that feat since scoring 112 in a win against Golden State on Jan. 14 which was the beginning of their season downfall.
Walker had 14 points and Augustin and Byron Mullens each added 12 for the Bobcats.