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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Deron Williams was a spectator during a tightly contested fourth quarter in the Brooklyn Nets' season-opening loss.
Williams played 22 minutes in the Nets' 98-94 road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nets went into the game with a minutes restriction on Williams, who missed the majority of the preseason with an ankle injury. Williams started and played 21:44 but did not play in the fourth quarter.
"I didn't know how they were going to break up my minutes," Williams said. "I was a little surprised when they said I wasn't going back in. I can't control that so just try to cheer my team on and hope for a win."
Williams shot 2-for-6 and scored seven points but did have nine assists despite the limited time. The Nets certainly could have used their star point guard in the fourth when they erased a nine-point deficit and tied the score four times, including 91-91 with 1:04 left. But acting coach Joe Prunty -- filling in for the suspended Jason Kidd -- followed the plan with Williams' minutes.
Williams doesn't know when his minutes limit will be over or how much he will play Friday against the Miami Heat in the home opener. He was asked if there's a way to manage the minutes so he can play in the fourth quarter.
"I've only practiced twice, three times and played  minutes in a [preseason] game," Williams said. "Maybe we talk about it but it would be hard for me to sit [for a while and then play in the fourth]. I don't know how much real time it would be, but from the middle of the third to the end of the fourth, that is a long time to sit out. It would be tough for me to get going after that."There were times throughout training camp and the preseason when Williams didn't think he would be playing Wednesday. He was limited throughout camp and didn't get through his first full-contact practice until Oct. 24, the day before the preseason finale.
Williams has been hampered by injuries since being traded to the Nets in February 2011.
Backup point guard Shaun Livingston (stiff neck) was the only Net who did not practice, but Kidd expects that he'll be able to play.
"I think I've used this line a lot: We're built, we're deep." Kidd said. "So if he can't go, that gives someone a shot to step up. But I think he was feeling better today and he should be good to go tomorrow."