Williams overcomes ankle, lifts Nets to win over WizardsDec 29, 2007 - 4:43 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- For one quarter, rookie Sean Williams outshined his superstar teammates.
After turning his right ankle in the third quarter, Williams returned to wreak havoc in the fourth en route to posting his first career double-double with 14 points and a season-high 10 rebounds as the New Jersey Nets posted a 109-106 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday.
Richard Jefferson scored 21 of his 26 points in the third quarter, Vince Carter finished with 24 and Jason Kidd narrowly missed a triple-double with a season-high 20, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
It was the first time this season that New Jersey's top three all scored at least 20 points in a game.
However, the difference was clearly Williams, whose return was in doubt after he rolled his right ankle when he accidently ran into Caron Butler in the open court early in the third.
"I thought it was a lot worse than what it was," he said. "I just tried to keep the blood flowing through it and trying to push through the pain."
Williams was forced to go to the locker room before returning late in the third. In the fourth, he sparked the Nets, collecting eight points, four rebounds and three blocks as well as altering numerous shots while playing the entire quarter.
"It's all about making the best of your opportunities and that's what I'm trying to do," Williams said. "I'm reminded every day that I'm a rookie, but basketball-wise I'm just trying to get better. I'm just trying to play my role as we can be the best we can be."
"Sean showed a lot of character getting hurt and coming back and giving us a big fourth quarter," Kidd said. "Sean is learning and he's talented and as many minutes as he can get, he is just going to grow."
The 6-10 forward-center opened the quarter with an alley-oop and had consecutive dunks off passes from Carter that gave New Jersey a 105-100 cushion with 3:48 left. He helped seal the win with a pair of free throws with 2:18 to go, making it 109-106 before recording his fifth and final block on a layup by Antawn Jamison at the other end.
In a game that featured 17 lead changes, the Nets posted a season high in points in regulation and shot 50 percent (17-of-34) after a sloppy first half. They made 29-of-31 (93.5 percent) free throws overall, including 18-of-19 in the second half.
New Jersey won for just the fourth time in their last 14 games at home, improving to 7-11 at the Izod Center.
Butler scored 28 points and Antawn Jamison had 27 and 13 rebounds for his 200th career double-double for the Wizards, who have lost four of their last five games.
"We just didn't play well down the stretch again," Jamison said. "We didn't get stops when we needed to. All the games are the same and we just keep coming up on the losing end. They did all the correct things to win the game."
Williams' heroics may have been meaningless if not for the impressive third quarter from Jefferson, who managed just five points on 1-of-5 shooting as he battled foul trouble in the first half.
Jefferson was relentless each time he touched the ball, making 6-of-9 shots and 9-of-9 free throws in the period. The Nets were 11-of-17 from the floor and 11-of-11 from the line, rallying from a nine-point deficit to take an 87-86 edge entering the fourth.
"I felt good," Jefferson said. "I got some easy buckets, I got to the free-throw line, it was just good activity. Whenever you struggle in the first half, you just have to stay focused for the team."
Jefferson did not score in the fourth, but the offensive slack was picked up by Williams and Kidd, who bounced back from an 0-of-8 shooting performance Wednesday's loss to Detroit.
Kidd made four of his first five shots in the game and scored eight points in the final period. He gave New Jersey the lead for good at 98-95 on a 3-pointer with 6:34 to go and added another 34 seconds later.
NEW JERSEY 109 FINAL
Dec 28 9:56 PM
NEW JERSEY 87 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 28 9:25 PM
NEW JERSEY 53 HALFTIME
Dec 28 8:38 PM
NEW JERSEY 30 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 28 8:06 PM
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