Jason Kidd decided to put the ball in Deron Williams' hands in crunch time Wednesday night.
And Williams made the right decision.
With the Brooklyn Nets leading the Miami Heat 94-92 late in the fourth quarter, Kidd yelled for Williams to run a 1-3 pick-and-roll with Joe Johnson on the left side of the floor. (You can watch it at the 1:43 mark in this video.)
Johnson, known for his last-second heroics, went over to set the pick, but Williams didn’t use it. LeBron James stayed with Johnson as he flared out toward the corner, leaving Williams isolated against Mario Chalmers at the top of the key.
This is where Williams is at his best, where he can use is vast array of moves in order to attack.
Williams, who was just 1-for-6 from the field at the time, dribbled the ball between his legs, then used a hard left-hand power dribble.
Chalmers tried to stay with Williams, but he couldn’t. Williams used the dribble to gain separation, then hit a 16-foot step-back fadeaway jumper with 35.8 seconds left, making it 96-92 Brooklyn. (In fact, the play was so successful Kidd had Williams run it again. The same thing happened, only this time Williams missed a 12-footer in-and-out after getting separation from Chalmers with 8.5 seconds remaining.)
The Nets wound up beating the Heat, 96-95.
“We were just trying to get the switch with Joe. And they didn’t switch. So I went at Chalmers,” Williams, who hadn’t hit a big shot late in a win since he hit two (a 3-pointer and a jumper) on Jan. 2 in Oklahoma City, told reporters in Miami.
It was just the third shot Williams has made in the final minute of games in which the Nets are ahead or behind by five or fewer points (on eight attempts), according to NBA.com. The other two shots came in the final minute Feb. 1 in Indiana, but Brooklyn was trailing and eventually lost that game.
This one was different. This one was for the win.
A shot like this has to give Williams confidence. And it’s a credit to Kidd that he had the confidence in Williams to give him the opportunity to make a play in that spot with the game on the line.
Williams has had an up-and-down season, but the trust factor between the two has always seemed to be there.
And now Williams has proven to his teammates he can step up when they need him the most.
Since the All-Star break, Williams has looked much healthier, averaging just 1.9 turnovers and making 46.5 percent of his mid-range jumpers. And the Nets have been a much better team with him on the court all season (a 106.5/101.6 on-court offensive/defensive rating versus a 99.8/106.1 off-court offensive/defensive rating).
This shot is just another step in the right direction.