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Deron Williams torches Wizards as Nets cruise to easy victory

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Deron Williams might have had a stretch earlier this season where his outside shot wasn't falling, but that certainly wasn't the case for the Brooklyn Nets point guard Friday night.

Williams drained his first eight attempts from 3-point range and finished with 11 3-pointers in all and scored 23 of his game-high 42 points in the first quarter to lead the Nets to a 95-78 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Barclays Center.

"I just got hot," said Williams, who is shooting 53 percent from long distance since the All-Star break, after shooting just 34 percent prior. "It was just one of those games where I made a couple of shots and just kept going. It was one of the best games I've had shooting the basketball in a long time."

The victory was the second straight for the Nets (36-26), who had been struggling prior to the two wins. The loss, the second straight for Washington, dropped the Wizards to 19-41 overall.

It was the fourth time in Williams' career that he scored 40-plus points. His career best came last season, when he scored 57 against Charlotte.

"He was unbelievable," Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "He just kept making shot after shot after shot. After the early start, the rest of the game just played out. He's been excellent since the All-Star break. I don't know if he's 100 percent and pain free, but you can see he's feeling better."

The Nets came out absolutely on fire, especially Williams, who canned six straight shots from behind the arc during the first four minutes of the game, giving the Nets a 22-2 lead. The Nets scored the first 16 points of the game, with Williams hitting four 3s and Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson adding a bucket each in the run.

After Nene broke the drought for the Wizards with a power move, Williams nailed two more long 3-pointers, giving him 18 for the game and giving the Nets a 20-point advantage in the first five minutes of the contest.

"I hate that kind of lead early, because you sort of become disjointed," Carlesimo said. "Because Deron was going so well, it was hard for us to get Brook or Joe going. We had a 20-point lead and didn't do a good job with it."

Williams has battled a sore wrist and two ankle injuries that required medical attention last month, forcing him to the sidelines for two games Feb. 11 and 13.

"A lot of tonight was Deron playing so well and making so many shots," Carlesimo said.

"The way he was going early," Joe Johnson said, "I thought he was going to get 60."

Reggie Evans had 11 points, tying his season high, and added a career-high 24 rebounds for the Nets.

"We needed a home win bad," said Evans, who struggled down the stretch at the free-throw line, as the Wizards were relegated to "Hack-A-Reggie," fouling Evans on purpose in an attempt to get back in the game.

"It's part of the game," Evans said. "They know I'm a poor free-throw shooter. It's up to me to make them."

The Wizards sent Evans, a 50 percent shooter prior to the game, to the line 10 times in the fourth period alone. Evans made only three of those shots, but his two free throws with 4:03 remaining gave the Nets an 88-72 lead. Evans received a huge round of applause from the sellout crowd of 17,732.

"I was just enjoying the moment," said Evans, who made just 5 of 16 free throws. "I knew then we were going to win the game. I didn't want to let the fans down."

Carlesimo said that he will continue to play Evans down the stretch of games.

"If he's going to get 11 points and 24 rebounds, he'll be out there," Carlesimo said. "It's difficult for Reggie, because I know he's shooting his free throws better. But he was doing such a good job with his defense and rebounding. Until he missed his free throws, I thought he was exceptional."

Brook Lopez added 11 points for the winners.

John Wall had 16 points to pace the Wizards, with Nene and Kevin Seraphin adding 11 points each.

Wall said that there was nothing the Wizards could do to stop Williams.

"He was just on fire," Wall said. "We were not making shots and he was just shooting the ball in transition. He had good looks all night. He found a good rhythm and was just feeling it. He made six 3s in such a short amount of time and we couldn't make a single shot. For him to get six before we had a basket, it's tough to get through that."

Williams had 23 points in the first quarter, 10 in the second setting his season high in the first 24 minutes. He made 9 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half, setting a new NBA record for 3-pointers in one half and helping the Nets grab a 59-33 lead. The Nets led by as many as 27 (62-35) in the early stages of the third period.

Williams then broke the team record of nine 3-pointers, formerly held by Vince Carter, with his first attempt of the second half. Williams then added another 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, giving him 11 for the game, one shy of the NBA record shared by Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall.

The third quarter was relatively uneventful, with Williams stuck on 36 for a majority of the period.

The Wizards cut the lead to 72-58 on a driving hoop by Emeka Okafor with 22 seconds left, but MarShon Brooks hit a banker to push the lead back to 74-58 at the end of three periods.

The Wizards got to within 13 at 76-63 on a 3-pointer from A.J. Price with nine minutes left. After shooting 57 percent in the first half, the Nets shot just 21 percent in the second half.

Williams' offensive explosion enabled the Nets to enjoy their best first quarter of the season, outscoring the Wizards, 38-14.

NOTES: Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal, who had 29 in a loss to the New York Knicks last Friday, was out of action again with a sprained left ankle. The Wizards list Beal, who is averaging 14.2 points per game and was the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December and January, as day-to-day, but he could miss considerable action. ... Before the game, Carlesimo said that there was a chance that the team could use Andray Blatche and Lopez at the same time, to give Brooklyn some scoring punch at power forward. "If the matchups are right, then we will try to do that over the course of the rest of the year. Some of the teams we play will lead to those guys playing together." While the Nets rank dead last in the NBA in scoring production at the power forward (starter Evans averages 3.4 points per game and reserve Kris Humphries is at 5.5 ppg), Blatche is the team's top bench scorer at 10 ppg. ... The Nets' shooting percentages have improved of late. "I think it's because we spend more time shooting at practice," Carlesimo said. "We concentrated on that during the (All-Star) break. We looked at our shooting numbers and none of them were very good. We've carved out bigger parts of practice to work on our shooting." ... After Friday, the Nets play 10 of their next 12 games on the road, including a brutal eight-game road trip. They have only seven regular-season home games remaining, the lowest total in the league.
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