Williams, the guy who hadn't dunked in a game once all season, just knew he had to get his in, too. Determined, he rose up minutes after Stackhouse's turn-back-the-clock moment in the second quarter, taking the horse carriage-like path the Cavs opened up for him to flush home a righthanded stuff, causing most of his teammates to pogo-stick off the bench with glee. Williams was off the hook. Finally, the ribbing can cease.
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"He inspired me,'' Williams said after the Nets ran over Cleveland 113-95 at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night. "To see a 38-year-old get a dunk and I don't have a dunk on the season, it kind of inspired me."
Williams then shouted in Reggie Evans' direction.
"And Reg,'' he added, "had two.''
"Oh yeah,'' Evans responded.
With Joe Johnson back home awaiting Thursday's big matchup with the Bulls, after missing his fifth straight game nursing a sore left heel, and Gerald Wallace sitting out, the Nets (43-31) got just what they needed last night: a laugher. They still had plenty of firepower to throttle the Cavs (22-52) and establish a franchise record by collecting their 21st road victory, marking the first time they've had a winning record away from home since joining the NBA in 1976.
MarShon Brooks scored a career-high 27 points and was also extremely efficient with the ball, registering a career-high tying seven assists. Williams was just as effective, tossing in 24 points and dishing eight assists as the Nets finished this stretch of eight contests away from home at 5-3, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process. The game was so well in hand that P.J. Carlesimo was able to rest his starters for the bulk of the fourth quarter.
"To get a win where we were able to rest guys,'' the interim coach said, " . . . and a lot of guys that hadn't been getting minutes got a chance to get minutes and played well, you probably couldn't have written a better script for tonight.''
Brooks sure couldn't. Taking advantage of his first start of the season, he was unconscious from the opening tip. The flamboyant shooting guard canned his initial 10 shots, pumping in 19 first-half points as the Nets grabbed a 66-36 lead at the break.
"It's huge,'' Brooks said. "Obviously, these last nine games are huge for us, especially because everything is so tight in the East between four and six.''
Brooks is right. only 41/2 games separate the fourth-place Nets from the seventh-place Celtics.
That's why there's no denying the importance of Wednesday night's game with the Bulls, which marks the Nets' first contest at their billion-dollar arena in nearly three weeks and comes against the team that's 21/2 games behind them.
"It's been a long time,'' Williams said. "It should be a lot of energy in the game. It's a big game for us against the Bulls. So, we are going to need the crowd to be into it. And hopefully our absence will get them into the game because they haven't seen us in a while and we haven't seen them."