- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Deron Williams looked like he was ready to explode.
On Wednesday morning, Williams had to answer questions about all the “Linsanity” going on across the Hudson.
The Nets point guard wanted no part of that.
On Wednesday night, he had to answer questions about how his team “Linploded” in the final seven minutes of their season-high seventh straight loss, a 105-100 defeat at the hands of the Grizzlies at Prudential Center.
Williams wanted no part of that, either.
The Nets (8-22, 0-3 when wearing their blue throwback ABA jerseys) held a 91-86 lead with 7:11 left after Anthony Morrow knocked down a 20-foot jumper. But Williams was struck in the jaw accidentally by Tony Allen 35 seconds later and forced to exit for 93 seconds.
From that point on, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The Nets missed seven straight shots and committed four inexcusable turnovers, going a span of 6 minutes, 44 seconds without a field goal.
“We make a lot of mistakes,” said Williams, who scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half, but had none in the decisive fourth quarter, a quarter in which the Nets were outscored 28-22. “We’re a young team. We do a lot of dumb things and make a lot of mistakes.”
By the time Kris Humphries converted a dunk inside with 27 seconds remaining, the Nets trailed 103-97. The Grizzlies (16-14), who were playing their second game in as many nights, scored 19 of the game’s final 28 points to come away with a victory they didn’t deserve.
The Nets outplayed them for the first 3 1/2 quarters. But when it got into crunch time, the Nets needed a miracle. And they didn’t have Jeremy Lin, who was dominating the Kings at the Garden, so they didn’t get one. While the Knicks have won seven in a row and taken over the basketball universe, the Nets are quickly becoming irrelevant -- at least until Brook Lopez returns and the trading deadline approaches, anyway.
“We were right there, it was within our grasp, and the turnovers definitely cost us,” said Williams, who added 11 assists and recorded his 12th points/assists double-double of the season.
“I feel like we say that a lot: there’s a lot of opportunities lost. It just is what it is.”
Williams spoke to the media for a grand total of 92 seconds. His answers were short. Anger was written all over his face.
Williams has taken a lot of criticism for his play, which at times has been ghastly. And maybe he isn’t the game-changer that many thought he would be. But what was he going to do when rookie MarShon Brooks, who had four of his game-high six miscues in the final period -- “boneheaded plays,” he called them -- was stepping on the sideline, and Morrow was going one way when D-Will wanted him to go the other way?
Nothing. What could he do? The Grizzlies were trapping him, and his shot wasn’t falling. Williams, who shot 9-for-18 overall, went 2-for-6 in the second half, missing all four of his 3-pointers. There’s a reason that D-Will has averaged 26.5 points and 10.3 assists in Nets’ victories this season. They’re not very good. And the only way they come out on top is if he carries them.
Meanwhile, Lin was relaxing on the bench, enjoying his new-found fame and fortune, after stuffing the stat-sheet to the tune of 10 points, a career-high 13 points and five rebounds in a 100-85 blowout “W.”
“Why would we get excited about the Knicks?” Williams replied when asked about Lin several hours before tipoff. “We're 8-21. I’m worried about us, not what the Knicks are doing.”
Williams was reminded that “Linsanity” was born against the Nets 11 days ago.
“Y'all got anything about [our game]?” Williams asked. “Anything that's relevant with us?”
Nope. Except injury updates and Dwight Howard trade rumors. Nothing at all.