Chris Paul drove left, crossed up Deron Williams and split Reggie Evans. CP3 elevated in the paint over Brook Lopez as Evans fouled him. While falling to the ground, he double-pumped and sank the circus shot—and the free throw—to seal the Los Angeles Clippers 101-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Paul left the game in the first quarter from a knee injury. But he returned strong to will his team to victory, with 29 points and 11 assists—including 17 points in the fourth quarter.
The Nets started the fourth quarter with a 75-70 lead over the Western Conference power. But then CP3 took over the game, the Clippers outscoring the Nets 31-20 in the final period.
Deron Williams needs to take a page from Paul's book on how to take over a game in the fourth quarter. With less than a minute left, Nets trailing 92-90, Williams telegraphed a pass to Gerald Wallace, which Jamal Crawford promptly stole and took to the basket for the easy jam.
Williams posted a strong stat line, scoring 18 points and dishing out nine assists, but when it mattered most, when the team needed him to step up, he sank.
Meanwhile, the player Williams has been compared to his whole career, the player who was taken a pick after him in the 2004 NBA Draft—the fellow Olympian—once again proved why he is the best point guard in the NBA.
For years, Williams made a strong case as the league's top floor general, but that argument fell out of favor long ago.
Brooklyn is ranked 23rd in the league in fourth quarter scoring. For a team that clinched a playoff berth and is vying for the Atlantic Division, that is unacceptable.
And the majority of the blame falls on the team's superstar and ball-handler.
For the Nets to make a deep run, D-Will needs to step up with the game in its balance, not fall down.
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