Nets beat Suns as all five starters score in double figures

Deron Williams
Deron Williams had one of his best games of the season against Phoenix.
Credit: Getty Images

The consensus inside a jovial and upbeat locker room was that Deron Williams played great.

As for whether his first dunk was actually a dunk, well that turned into a raging and often-comedic debate.

Regardless of the viewpoint, Williams highlighting a 28-point night with his first dunk of the season in Monday’s 108-95 win over the Suns was a significant development as the Nets ran their home winning streak to nine games.

The play occurred with about 6 1/2 minutes left and the Nets up by 13. Andrei Kirilenko intercepted a pass by Phoenix guard Ish Smith, ran the floor and found Williams.

Williams could have easily converted a layup but on his 542nd shot attempt of the season, he decided to go for the milestone. He did so, though not with the emphatic flush of one of Gerald Green’s dunks but with a quiet finish.

Head coach Jason Kidd and Mason Plumlee were in the no-dunk camp. Williams and Joe Johnson voted for it being a dunk while Shaun Livingston didn’t want to get involved in the “debate.”

“Well we are trying to debate if that was a dunk,” Kidd said. “He was great tonight [and] I think he’s healthy. You have to ask him if that was a dunk. He doesn’t want to say it was a dunk. He was attacking and setting the table for his teammates.

“Coach is supposed to have your back,” Williams said to laughs from the media pack around his locker. “I can’t do nothing but shake my head. He’s supposed to say something like, ‘I’m proud of him, it’s a monumental moment.’ He was never a dunker in his day.”

It wasn’t quite the rim-rocking dunk Williams had toward the end of Game 1 of last year’s postseason. In other words, you won’t be seeing any posters with Williams but it was still significant because of the injuries.

“It was a dunk,” Johnson said. “But it wasn’t a dunk that you get hyped off of.”

If there was anything to get hyped up about it was his overall performance. The dunk occurred during the first time that Williams shot at least 80 percent (11-of-13) and it came after he flubbed a dunk attempt Saturday in Washington.

It also his first dunk since May 2 in last year’s opening-round Game 6 in Chicago. He needs four more to match his total from the 2012-13 regular season.

“I’m going to give it to him,” Plumlee said. “He’s gone up about three times now with great courage.”

It’s a sign the player teammates occasionally refer to as “the head of the snake” seems to be finding his rhythm after two sprained ankles cost him 16 games in the first three months of the season.

“I’m definitely feeling better,” Williams said. “I’m still not jumping that high, as you can tell, but I’m definitely feeling better and more confident every day. Now I’m just trying to get that confidence to continue.”

“The looks that he had, they were all great looks,” Kidd said. “They weren’t forced and he was getting to the basket. When he’s playing like this, it’s fun to watch.”

Besides Williams turning in one of his most productive nights of the year, Joe Johnson added 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The Brooklyn backcourt shot a combined 18-of-24 while hitting three 3-pointers apiece.

Plumlee turned in his best game as the starting center in place of Kevin Garnett. Plumlee made his ninth straight start and had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Livingston also helped out, adding 12 points and five assists on a night when he set new career highs for minutes played and points scored in a season.

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.



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