The Brooklyn Nets, led by 35 points from Deron Williams, outlasted the Atlanta Hawks 120-115 in overtime in Game 4 at Barclays Center on Monday night to tie the first-round series at two games apiece. The series heads back to Atlanta for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Williams had a brutal series heading into Monday night, with just 2 points in Game 2 and missing the game-winning jumper late, and just 3 points in Game 3 on Saturday in Brooklyn.
From the start, you could tell this was a different Deron Williams. He had 11 points in the first quarter on 4-for-7 from the field, including three made 3-pointers, helping the Nets to a 25-24 lead at the end of the opening frame.
Williams had only six points in the second and third quarters, but came alive in the fourth. The Nets trailed 82-74 entering the fourth, and he started it off with a three, then a 17-foot jumper. Later, he had a driving layup followed by quick back-to-back threes to make it 93-88 nets with 7:00 left. The Hawks held Williams scoreless until the 1:53 mark when he drained a three to make it 102-101 Brooklyn.
The Nets held a 104-102 lead in the final minute when Paul Millsap blew by Bojan Bogdanovic for an easy dunk to tie the game with 16.4 seconds left. Bogdanovic said of that play, “We just switched and made a big mistake. I have to be more focused on the last plays.”
On the Nets’ ensuing possession, the ball went to the hot hand, Williams, on the baseline and he missed a turnaround jumper with 6.9 seconds left. It shows that even though he had 33 points, and 16 in the fourth quarter, he should not have gotten that last shot.
The Hawks had 6.5 seconds left ot get a winning basket and their play was so muddled, they never got a shot off. That is not what you expect from a team that won 60 games in the regular season, but this series has shown how pointless the regular season is in a lot of ways.
In the overtime, Atlanta led 113-111 on an Al Horford layup with 1:44 left. On the Nets’ ensuing possession, Bojan Bogdanovic was left wide open on the left side and he buried an open three to make it 114-113 Nets with 1:24 left and they never looked back. After a Jeff Teague missed three-pointer with 1:15 left, Thaddeus Young made a jumper to make it 116-113 Brooklyn with 54 seconds left. After that, Kyle Korver missed three straight 3-pointers and on the last one, Deron Williams was fouled. D-Will made his two free throws with 20 seconds left to make it 118-113 and seal the win.
Williams finished with 35 points on 13-for-25 from the field, 7-11 on threes, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Williams said of how satisfying it was to have a big game, “It feels good. It feels great to get the win, that’s the most important thing. This was a team win all the way. We fought, we scrapped, we battled. We were down 10 going into the fourth and there was never any let up, never any give up.”
D-Will said of his aggressive mindset going into the game and making those early shots, “It definitely helped to get my confidence going early to see a couple of shots go in becasue they haven’t gone in the last couple of games before this. I just wanted to be aggressive like you said. I wanted to start out being aggressive. I pretty much was able to sustain that throughout the game.”
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of how satisfying it was to see D-Will have a game like this, “Very satisfying. The kid has overcome a lot of adversity. He had a lot of adversity with the injuries and with the negativity around his name. For him to come out, it showed a lot of character to put on the performance like that, especially when we needed it because without that performance, I don’t know if we get out of here with a win. But I’ll take it, and I’m excited about it and I’m excited about how the team rallied around him as well. That’s what this is about. I thought it was a huge, huge step in unity for our ball club.”
Nets backup point guard Jarrett Jack, who had 4 points and 3 assists, said of Williams’ night, “He controlled the game from start to finish. He was that guy, that I believe and everybody in this locker room believes he is. I constantly stay in his ear. I told him, after Game Two, that I believe in the law of averages, ‘You’re due for a big game. You struggled the first two, didn’t shoot it the way you wanted in the third, but you’re due for a big game. I believe it, man.’ Here he is, came through, big shot after big shot, big playmaking, decision making. He put us on his back and we followed him to the finish line.”
Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said of Williams, “We go into the game with a lot of respect for Deron Williams. We did some different things early. You adjust as the game goes and you see the game and what’s in front of you. We got a little more aggressive on him at times, which was effective. Brooklyn was able to make a couple plays away from him down the stretch. A lot of respect for Deron Williams and what he is capable of.”