Starting Five: Thanks be to guards

Deron Williams hit some circus shots Monday night -- including his reverse layup that gave the Nets an 11-point lead late in the first quarter of their 96-80 victory over the Bulls.

“I did, didn’t I?” Williams said with a smile. “It’s good. It’s good to get some of those back, and I’m feeling a lot better.”

His biggest bucket of the game turned out to be a 3-pointer that halted a Chicago rally and put Brooklyn up 83-71 with 5:58 remaining. Williams ended up with 20 points -- 14 in the second half -- along with six assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes.

The Nets are 6-2 this season when Williams scores 20 or more points.

Didn’t it seem like just yesterday -- well, Saturday night -- when Williams missed nine of his last 12 shots after hurting his right forearm in Milwaukee?

And on the same night Williams went off, so did Joe Johnson. A 32.1 percent shooter in his previous five games, Johnson erupted for 19 points on 7-for-11 from the field against the Bulls.

“I was just playing within the concepts of the offense,” said Johnson, who had been bothered by a jammed ring finger on his shooting hand. “I was able to get a few rhythm jumpers which kind of got me in a little groove and we just made some plays.”

The Nets sure are better when their $40 million duo plays well, huh?

Question: How nice was it to see Williams and Johnson get it going? Let us know in the Comments section below.

In case you missed it: Jason Collins made his home debut Monday, and the Nets beat the Bulls at their own game.

Stat of the day: The Nets have won 21 straight games in which they’ve held a lead at halftime.

Up next: Practice at Barclays Center on Tuesday.