“Why not?” Williams interrupted with a sly smile after starring in the Mavs’ 115-112 overtime win on Tuesday over the Portland Trail Blazers.
If nothing else, the self-doubt that Williams admitted crept into his mind during his last couple of miserable years in Brooklyn has disappeared. He hasn’t been nearly as consistent as he wants to be so far this season, but Williams is comfortable and confident a month into his Mavs tenure.
At least for one night, Williams looked every bit like the star the Mavs offered a max contract to in the summer of 2012.
Williams’ stat line speaks for itself: a game-high 30 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two blocks. And Williams saved his best for last. He scored six points -- all on drives -- in the final 3:05 of regulation to key a Mavs comeback and then dominated in overtime, with nine points and a dime in the extra period.
It was pretty impressive work on the second night of a back-to-back for an 11-year veteran who has been hampered by health issues over the past few years, particularly considering he never got the break Dallas coach Rick Carlisle promised after the point guard checked back into the game 34 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Williams, who missed training camp and all but one preseason game due to calf strains, played a season-high 45 minutes.
“We were in overtime and he said, ‘Hey, where’s that rest you were talking about?’” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And I said, ‘Look, this is the end of training camp for you,’ and we both had a chuckle about it. But it’s really kind of the truth. Being able to make shots at the end of the game when he’s tired like this means he’s really brought his conditioning up.”
Williams' teammates were buzzing even more about his two clutch blocked shots in the final minute of regulation than about all of his big buckets.
“The little break in between regulation and overtime gave me a little energy, helped me reload," Williams said. "I needed a little energy from somewhere.”
The Mavs, who snapped a four-game road losing streak, needed a big boost from someone.
They also got it from old man Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists. They got it from Zaza Pachulia, who put up 14 points and matched his career high with 21 rebounds. And they got it from Wesley Matthews, who scored 18 points in an emotional return to his home arena of the last five seasons, sparking the fourth-quarter rally from an 11-point deficit with consecutive 3-pointers.
But none of the Dallas vets delivered like Williams, especially when it was winning time.
“He was big time,” Matthews said. “He came out with a sense of urgency. He came out with a purpose and he played confident. He’s starting to let his talents take over.”
Make no mistake, nobody realistically expected Williams to put up 30-point nights on a regular basis. He had a grand total of two such performances last season for the Nets -- one in the regular season and another in the playoffs.
But Williams isn’t making max money with the Mavs. He doesn’t have that burden. He’s a $5.5 million bargain if the keeps up his current production (14.8 points, 5.8 assists per game). But he’s thinking bigger than that.
“I think as my confidence gets back and stays the way it is, hopefully I can put together some of these nights,” Williams said. “But hopefully, I won’t need to with the team we have.”
Nowitzki remains the face of the franchise. The Mavs are confident that Matthews and Chandler Parsons will have nights where they carry the team -- once they get in a rhythm after rehabbing all summer from major surgeries.
But Williams is part of that closing committee, without a doubt. His dominance down the stretch on Tuesday night reminded all that the former All-Star can flourish in that role.