With a few more fourth quarters like he saw Friday in London, perhaps Williams will be more inclined to stick around.
An impressive comeback helped the Nets pick up their first win since Williams’ arrival, a performance they’ll look to replicate against the Toronto Raptors in Saturday’s tail end of the NBA’s first regular-season foray in Europe.
But while Anthony immediately signed a three-year, $65 million to stay in New York after being dealt from Denver, the Russian billionaire hasn’t yet been able to secure a similar commitment from Williams.
Prokhorov said the two will sit down while in London to discuss Williams staying with the Nets (18-43) for the long haul, and Friday was the best New Jersey has looked since the trade. Trailing by three going into the fourth quarter, the Nets outscored Toronto 38-22 and came away with a 116-103 win to end their six-game losing streak.
“We had a lot of energy today,” said Williams, who had 16 points and 11 assists. “We were all a little worried about how the trip would affect us, fatigue would set in. But we had a lot of energy. We had definitely some bright spots, some guys played great for us tonight.”
“Our chemistry grows every game by the boatload,” said Lopez, who’s averaged 21.3 points in his last four games against the Raptors.
One thing the Nets are definitely doing more is sharing the ball. New Jersey averaged 19.7 assists prior to the All-Star break - 28th in the league - but it’s averaged an Eastern Conference-best 26.8 since Williams’ arrival.
Precise passing from their opponents has spelled trouble for the Raptors. Toronto is 11-12 when it allows 19 assists or fewer and 6-33 if the opposition records 20 or more.
While the Raptors (17-45) certainly need to defend better Saturday, they had some solid offensive performances Friday. DeMar DeRozan(notes) had a game-high 30 points, Andrea Bargnani(notes) had 23 and Ed Davis(notes) hit all six of his shots to finish with 12 points and eight boards off the bench.
Bargnani has averaged 25.5 points since Feb. 4, but the 7-footer has only pulled down five rebounds per game in that span.
“Andrea’s been very good over the last month, and he’s been a guy that’s carried us,” coach Jay Triano said. “He needs to be a better rebounder and better at the defensive end, but we think he’s making progress (even if) tonight wasn’t a good example.”
Both teams were impressed with Friday’s announced sellout crowd of 18,689, which seemed to be split between the teams.
“I loved the crowd,” Bargnani said. “I really felt the excitement. I was nervous in the first half. I think it’s going to be better (Saturday).”
“These games are great for global basketball, great for the NBA,” he said. “… When both teams did something good out there, they liked it. And I hope this is just the start of many, many more games.”