Deron Williams looked like he was enjoying himself on Wednesday night in Dallas -- the same way he looked like he was enjoying himself last season when he got the better of Jeremy Lin at Madison Square Garden.
“Just another game,” huh?
OK, D-Will. Whatever you say.
With Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sitting baseline, Williams came home and put on a show, scoring 26 of his 31 points in the second half, and the Nets claimed a 113-96 victory at American Airlines Arena -- probably the 28-year-old point guard’s favorite building to shoot in.
“My family’s here. My friends are here. I grew up a Mavericks fan. It’s always good to come back here and play,” Williams told reporters in Dallas after the game.
“Like I said, I always get up for these games at home just because like I said it’s home and given the situation. But honestly I just tried to attack it like a regular game. My thought process was the same as it was going into any other game. I didn’t eat anything special. It was just a regular game for us.”
If that were the case, Williams wouldn’t have been galloping up and down the court, flashing that huge smile of his and slapping fives with his teammates on the bench after sticking it time and time again in the fourth quarter to the billionaire who decided that filming “Shark Tank” was more important than meeting with him.
Who knows what would’ve happened had Cuban showed up. Even Williams admitted it could’ve changed things. But Nets GM Billy King went out and re-signed Gerald Wallace and traded for Joe Johnson. And that, along with $98 million over five years, convinced Williams he should stay in Brooklyn.
Cuban later said the Mavericks were better off without Williams. He may be right.
He wasn’t on Wednesday night.
“Deron played out of his mind,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said.
Williams had just five points on 2-for-7 shooting in the first half, but erupted for 13 points in the third quarter and 13 more in the fourth -- including his team’s first eight in the final period.
“In the first half I didn't really do anything. I was just kind of sitting back and facilitating,” Williams said. “And then for whatever reason, I just got hot in the second half, hit a couple shots and started feeling it.”
Since the All-Star break, Williams, rejuvenated and pain-free following his season-changing week of rest, is averaging 23.9 points on 48 percent shooting -- including 45.4 percent from 3-point range.
On Wednesday night, he had plenty of help. Brook Lopez scored a season-high 38 points and added 11 rebounds. Reggie Evans grabbed 22 rebounds and Gerald Wallace chipped in with five steals.
The Nets (40-28) are 2-0 on their eight-game circus road trip, 12 games over .500 and primed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (32-36) are on the verge of missing the postseason after making it 12 times in a row.
If Williams were wearing a Dallas uniform, that probably wouldn’t be the case.
Williams figured he’d get booed a lot more than he did on Wednesday night.
“It wasn’t bad,” he said. “I thought I was gonna hear way more boos, but it wasn’t bad.”