Deron Williams Wins NBA Player of the Night After Relentless Effort vs. Knicks

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks and Deron Williams #8 of the Brooklyn Nets fight for a loose ball at the Barclays Center on November 26, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  The Nets defeated the Knicks 96-89. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The battle for New York officially began Monday night and Deron Williams ensured it was the Brooklyn Nets who struck first.

On a night when Al Jefferson willed the Utah Jazz to victory over the Denver Nuggets and Greivis Vasquez did the same for the New Orleans Hornets against the Los Angeles Clippers, there was Williams.

Brooklyn's point guard played through a sprained right wrist, among other injuries, to help the Nets overcome a 35-point effort by the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony.

No, it wasn't always pretty, but once the overtime buzzer sounded, it became clear his efforts were effective.

Which is all that matters.

Stat Line: 16 points, 14 assists, six rebounds and three steals on 35.3 percent shooting.

There were a litany of occasions when it appeared the Nets were going to fold Monday night. They found themselves down by as many as seven points in a heated fourth quarter, and missed plenty of open shots down the stretch.

But Williams, poor shooting included, was always there to ground them. His shots weren't falling at a high rate, but he dished out as many assists as the entire Knicks team and more than carried his weight on the glass. His three steals were also indicative of a man on a mission on the offensive end.

And all this came in the midst of a sprained wrist. Let's not forget about those bone spurs in his left arm either.

Playing despite such injuries is the quintessential form of perseverance; it is the perfect display of a relentless athlete.

Williams knew that there was much more at stake here than a single win. He also understood that a victory wouldn't shift the New York fanbase ratio in Brooklyn's favor. But he did understand that winning this game, that beating the Knicks, would send a message.

A message that stated the Nets are here, they're for real and they're not going anywhere anytime soon.

I understand that Jason Kidd joined Iman Shumpert and Amar'e Stoudemire on the shelf, but I also don't care. The Knicks have proved to be a more than respectable team as they continue their self-imposed bout with age and injury, so Kidd's absence doesn't take anything away from this one.

And it most certainly doesn't take anything away from Williams.

He helped hold New York's starting backcourt of Ronnie Brewer and Raymond Felton to a combined total of 11 points. He logged over 43 minutes despite the slew of injuries that are currently plaguing him.

He found a way to make a world of difference even though he was far from healthy, even though he was anything but at his best.

This is not to be discounted, especially considering no one else on the Nets emerged as a consistent two-way presence.

Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace put some points on the board, but neither converted on an overwhelming percentage of their shots. Jerry Stackhouse shot at a high rate from the field, but he could only be on the floor so much because of his spotty defense. And let's not even touch upon the horrid performances of Kris Humphries and Joe Johnson. Neither of them delivered even slightly.

Williams, however, did—on both sides of the ball.

"It's hard to deny the atmosphere and media buzz behind this game," Williams admitted (via Jake Appleman of after the Nets claimed a victory.

It's also impossible to deny that Williams' valiant effort was the driving force behind Brooklyn's first ever win over the Knicks.



All stats in this article are accurate as of November 27th, 2012.