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Paul Pierce commends Deron Williams for big Game 4

A day after Deron Williams scored 35 points in a Game 4 win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Brooklyn Nets point guard received praise from one of his biggest critics.

“I think it’s great,” Paul Pierce told reporters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. “I know that’s what he’s capable of. That’s probably why I said a lot of things I said because I know what Deron Williams is capable of. The player you saw last night, that’s what you expect out of him. It’s all a mindset. You gotta go out there and will yourself every night, I believe.”

Prior to the start of the playoffs, Pierce told ESPN.com that Williams didn't want to be an MVP candidate and couldn't handle the pressure of playing in New York.

“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said before the playoffs. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.

“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”

Jarrett Jack wasn't thrilled with what Pierce said, telling reporters after Brooklyn’s 120-115 overtime victory over Atlanta on Monday, “I ain’t gonna say it’s in poor taste, because I think Paul is a professional, he probably just answered the question. But I probably wouldn’t have done it in that fashion.”

Responding to Pierce’s comments shortly after they came out, Williams said, “Being here, I got pretty thick skin. He has his opinions and that’s fine. It’s what it is. I can’t change his opinions. So just leave it at that.”

Williams scored 18 points in the first three games of the first-round series against the top-seeded Hawks before his Game 4 outburst.

He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter alone -- doing much of his damage off the dribble. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williams went 3-for-20 from the field on off-the-dribble shots in Games 1-3. But in the final period of Game 4, he went 4-for-7.

Notes: How big is Game 5 on Wednesday night at Philips Arena? According to ESPN Stats & Information, entering the 2015 playoffs, 178 best-of-seven series have been tied 2-2 in NBA history. The Game 5 winner goes on to win the series 82 percent of the time (146-32). ... Kyle Korver is 4-for-18 from 3-point range in the past two games of the series. The Nets have done a terrific job switching on most possessions as opposed to chasing Korver off screens. ... Brook Lopez is averaging 21.3 points, 11 rebounds and 2.3 blocks during the series. Assuming he opts out of the final year of his contract ($16.7 million), he’s likely going to get another fat deal over the summer.