DALLAS — Deron Williams had been through this before: the dreaded first game against his old team.
It was Jan. 14, 2012, and Williams returned to Utah as a member of the Nets to face the Jazz. It was emotional for Williams, who started his NBA career with the Jazz, and he shot only 3-for-15 as the Nets lost.
Fast-forward to Friday night. Williams played against the Nets for the first time since being unceremoniously bought out by the team in the offseason and signing with Dallas.
Williams shot poorly on Friday night, too (3-for-14), and had eight points with six assists. But his team won this reunion as Dallas led throughout in a 91-79 victory.
Chandler Parsons had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas, which overcame a quiet night from Dirk Nowitzki (12 points). Zaza Pachulia added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 28 points and 12 rebounds. The other starters all scored in double figures, but the Nets received only two points from their bench — a fourth-quarter basket by Andrea Bargnani. Dallas’ bench contributed 34 points.
“Obviously, our starters played pretty well together,” Nets interim coach Tony Brown said. “We have to find some other guys to kind of get in the fray.”
Joe Johnson, who scored 13, said: “It’s tough. That would probably be the difference in any game. If you get no production from your bench, it’s hard to win in this league. But we have faith in our guys. I’m sure they’ll bounce back.”
Williams’ career has bounced back since he left Brooklyn. He was injured when the Mavs visited Barclays Center on Dec. 23. That was fitting, given that injuries marred Williams’ time with the Nets after he signed a $98.5-million contract extension following his Feb. 23, 2011, trade from Utah.
Williams’ arrival was part of what the Nets hoped would become a push to NBA supremacy. It didn’t quite work out that way, though, and now the Nets are without a general manager and full-time coach after the reassignment of Billy King and the firing of Lionel Hollins.
Williams, 31, surveyed the wreckage of his former franchise.
“I figured they’d be a lot better,” he said. “But I know they’ve struggled with some injuries and things like that that have definitely hurt them, and the coaching change and Billy getting let go, so there’s a lot of things going on over there right now.”
Williams’ unhappiness in New York and with the Nets was well-chronicled. Some players can tune out the constant swarm of change and attention. Some can’t.
“It’s definitely tough,” Williams said. “Every year you’re learning a new system, a new philosophy on offense, on defense, players are being cycled in and out on top of that. It makes chemistry tough, it makes consistency tough.”
Williams has played in 41 of the Mavs’ 49 games. He’s healthier and happier in Big D.
“I think it’s just been a good situation for me,” he said. “Top to bottom, the organization’s been really great, and the coaching staff and players, it’s been a situation where I just feel like I’ve come in and fit really nicely.”