Shook off early struggles against Kirk Hinrich to put in a classic playoff performance. Had a solid second quarter highlighted (in my mind) by a semi-transition three-pointer that set the tone for Williams’s performance. In the third quarter, he dunked in traffic, crossed up Kirk Hinrich for an open jumper, hit five three-pointers…
And then disappeared in the overtime periods.
Williams didn’t score once in the first two overtime periods. He missed nine of ten shots at one point, finally scoring on his fifth post-regulation attempt in the third overtime with the Nets already down. I don’t blame him for any defensive lapses on Nate Robinson, who made shots that most human beings wouldn’t attempt on an acid trip, but they could’ve used some contributions from their star player in those moments.
After quiet regulation, Johnson carried the Nets through overtime, hitting multiple floaters in the lane — including one as the first overtime expired to cause the second one, and an and-one to cut the second overtime lead to 127-126. The Nets went to him again down the stretch in the third overtime, but he couldn’t continue to deliver, and Johnson’s three-point attempt that clanged short with seconds left closed the game.
Hey, remember when everyone hated Gerald Wallace? Then he leveled Nate Robinson with a legal screen that C.J. Watson will probably give him $5,000 for? Then came up with big rebounds and an and-one in overtime? After throwing his first shot off the side of the rim, it was all uphill from there. Hit a three as the first half expired, hit another in the second half. Played swarming defense and got his share of defensive rebounds. Dunked in transition in what would have been a defining moment, before Nate Robinson went Nova Robinson.
As me, you watch a lot of basketball. Some of it is good, some of it is slog-worthy, some of it I watch solely because I have to get through the day. There are times when I watch offense that’s just plain awful and gut-wrenching and I beg I can look away but I just can’t. But I watch because every now and then, there are those moments that just make you so happy to be a basketball fan.
With six seconds left, Nate Robinson ripped the ball from a posting Brook Lopez, nullifying the shot clock and throwing a loose ball onto the floor. Lopez, who likely assumed that the shot clock was still in play, grabbed the ball from 25 feet out, turned around, and fired up a 26-footer.
And there’s so many things he did well in this game, particularly in the first quarter to carry the Nets through the first frame. He’s played like a legitimate defensive player in this series along with his usually fantastic offensive contributions. He blocked Joakim Noah near the rim in the biggest defensive possession of his career. He hit key free throws down the stretch.
I’m sad now, because the Brooklyn Nets lost their biggest game of the season. It’s depressing and infuriating. And there were moments when he struggled to get his position inside. But sometimes those moments stick in your mind. Years from now, when I’m reminiscing about this series and Brook Lopez’s contributions, I’ll bet you his entire comic book collection that the first thing that pops into my head is that turnaround three. And I’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.
Hit all four of his mostly silly shots in the first half and had some surprisingly good passes, including one to get Reggie Evans an and-one look, but didn’t box out Nazr Mohammed on a game-changing play in the third and final overtime.
Had probably his best game of the series, and it still typified why the Nets need a true starting power forward: the Bulls completely abandoned him when he was on offense, his jaw-droppingly awful help defense helped Nate Robinson find his fourth-quarter magic, he struggled containing Carlos Boozer, and missed seven free throws. Every team needs a Reggie Evans, but you also need someone to make sure he doesn’t have to play 50 minutes in a game like this.
Drew a technical foul in the first half for getting attacked by Nate Robinson and responded with a quietly effective game that was punctuated by a missed dunk with three minutes left in a game that didn’t end in regulation.