- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York Writer
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That’s what Reggie Evans said he was thinking after Deron Williams converted just his third dunk of the season -- an emphatic reverse two-hander with 39.3 seconds left in the third quarter that had everyone at Barclays Center buzzing.
“It just happened. I just wanted to show the NBA that I might be able to compete in the dunk contest,” Williams joked after the Brooklyn Nets’ 106-89 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday night.
Was this really the same player that said he was having trouble just getting up the stairs because his ankles hurt so bad?
“Yes, I think the dunk showed it,” Williams, who finished with 22 points and seven assists in 35 minutes, replied when asked how far he’s come. “I definitely think my legs feel good, my ankles feel good right now, and I’m excited to be back in the playoffs.”
Said interim coach P.J. Carlesimo of his superstar point guard, who was playing in his first playoff game since May 10, 2010: “Deron’s playing at an extremely high level. He’s been able to push, distribute, make shots and defend.”
• Gerald Wallace had 16 points in his final seven regular-season games -- combined.
So it came as a complete surprise when Wallace erupted for 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting on Saturday night.
His tenacious defense on Luol Deng (3-for-11 shooting) was expected. But the offense? The confidence? Where did it come from?
“My main thing was just to be more aggressive and kind of put more pressure on their defense,” Wallace said. “Force them into situations where they gotta guard. They probably didn’t see that in the first four games, so I just tried to do something new and forced them into something they probably didn’t want to do defensively.”
Someone is certainly taking advantage ...
“It’s a fresh start. A new season. The playoffs, it’s totally different,” said Wallace, who hasn’t really lived up to expectations since signing a four-year, $40 million contract in the offseason.
Whatever. If he keeps this up, that’ll be quickly forgotten.
• Wallace exchanged words with Nate Robinson midway through the fourth quarter after taking exception to a shoulder Robinson threw his way.
“I don’t know,” Wallace replied when asked what made him upset. “He’s just too little for me.”
• Brook Lopez had been waiting a long time to play his first playoff game: 325 regular-season games over five seasons, to be exact.
“I was very anxious,” Lopez said.
If he was, it didn’t show. Lopez had 12 points in the first quarter, 19 at the half and 21 overall. He added five rebounds and three blocks to his ledger, too.
“I’m pleased with the results,” Lopez said. “The energy in the building was electric. it was so much fun, and our team played at such a high level.”
Lopez was able to take advantage on the interior with Joakim Noah (foot) not playing anywhere close to 100 percent. Noah logged just 14 minutes.
• Jerry Stackhouse sang the National Anthem. Then he went out and went 0-for-3 from the field with three airballs.
“My bad.. I was a little too amped up. I'll be better next game. Thanks though!” Stackhouse, a veteran anthem singer, tweeted after the game.
Whoa. That’s what Reggie Evans said he was thinking after Deron Williams converted just his third dunk of the season -- an emphatic reverse two-hander with 39.