Deron Williams comes off bench

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams was not asked to come off the bench in his return to the lineup Monday afternoon against the New York Knicks. It was his decision.

"That was my idea," said Williams, who had 13 points, three assists and three rebounds in 27 minutes in the Nets' 103-80 blowout victory against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

"Just because we've been playing so well with that lineup, why shake things up?" Williams continued. "It doesn't matter if I come off the bench or start. Whatever. The way Joe [Johnson]'s been playing in first quarters and first halves, I don't want to disrupt that."

Williams had missed the last five games due to ankle injuries. He had not come off the bench since Feb. 22, 2006, his rookie season with the Utah Jazz.

The Nets (16-22) are now 5-0 when starting Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Asked if he was willing to come off the bench long-term, assuming the team could sustain its new-found success since 2014 (6-1), Williams replied, "Why not? Why not?"

Nets coach Jason Kidd liked what he saw from Williams, who was on a minutes restriction.

"It was great," Kidd said. "It's as if he never was gone."

Williams checked into the game with 5:15 left in the first quarter. He immediately got into the lane and converted a floater. Williams had 11 points in the fourth quarter.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "A little rusty, but that's expected. ... I was able to get my legs under me a little bit [in the fourth quarter], but I'm still getting there. I'm still working through it, but I felt a little bit better."

Two weeks ago, Williams received a cortisone shot and a PRP injection of both his ankles. It was the second time Williams received the procedure in as many seasons. The Nets are hoping it rejuvenates him, just as it did in 2012-13, when his numbers rose across the board.

Williams has already missed 16 games this season due to injury.

"It's just frustrating," he said. "It's been tough to be out there. Starting out the season, I wasn't 100 percent. Not even close. It felt like I was getting my legs under me, then I got the ankle sprain, and another ankle sprain. It's kinda been like injury after injury. I feel like I'm getting my grove again, and then I have to go out again. It's been tough sitting out here and there and not getting a rhythm."

Garnett doesn't mind Williams coming off the bench, which gives the second unit a true point guard, who just happens to be a three-time All-Star.

"I think we are in a groove to where until he gets his timing and everything back, I think then you have to ask him this, but I think he was comfortable with wherever he was," Garnett said. "I think him trying to get back and his urgency and what he expects of himself ... he beats himself up a lot and we try to get him to just back off a little bit. But the heart of a champion, man. A straight lion. He is one of our leaders for a reason."

Pierce agreed.

"Oh, it gives us a huge boost, because we need Deron," Pierce said. "No matter how we've been playing, if we're going to make some noise here in the East, we need what he's able to do. You saw what he was doing before he got injured. We need that Deron to come out here and be aggressive, to be a facilitator, to really lead."

Williams doesn't know if his minutes are going to increase Tuesday night in the second half of a back-to-back set against the Orlando Magic.

"That's kind of the test," Williams said. "We'll see how it feels tonight."