WHAT IT MEANS: New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams said one of his favorite movies is “Gladiator" during an interview on the Prudential Center's jumbotron. He played like Maximus on Monday night. Despite being hampered by a nagging sprained right wrist injury and a banged up left hand, Williams battled and went on to score 13 points, dish out a season-high 18 assists and add five rebounds. But Channing Frye spoiled Williams' home debut. Frye drilled a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds remaining in overtime that gave the Phoenix Suns a 104-103 victory over the Nets in front of 15,386 dejected fans. The Nets had a chance to win on the final possession, but Williams couldn't get a runner to fall and Kris Humphries' tip-in came a split-second too late. New Jersey (17-43) has now lost six straight, while Phoenix (31-27) won its fourth in a row.
TURNING POINT: The Nets rallied back from an 86-77 fourth-quarter deficit to close within 94-93 with 10.7 seconds remaining after Anthony Morrow drained his second 3-pointer in the final minute. Then, after Frye got free for a dunk to put the Suns up three, Morrow was fouled hoisting a 3 with 2.7 seconds left and made all three free throws to knot the game at 96 all and send it to overtime. Morrow ended up with nine points in a 20-second span. The 25-year-old sharpshooter finished with 22 points overall.
STAR OF THE GAME: Brook Lopez. The 22-year-old center got the best of his twin brother, Robin Lopez, on Monday night, pouring in a game-high 28 points and snagged 10 rebounds. But there's no question Brook Lopez will lose sleep over his missed free throw that would've put the Nets up three right before Frye's dagger.
COMING HOME: There’s no doubt about it. Just like former Net great Jason Kidd, Williams makes his teammates better. Whether it was creating off the bounce or finding open teammates in transition with his tremendous court vision, Williams looked every bit like one of the best facilitators in the NBA. He even knocked down his first 3-pointer as Net -- after missing his first seven -- early in the first quarter. However, he re-aggravated the sprained tendon in his right wrist again later in the opening stanza, and had to be fitted with a black wrap. Not that it stopped his ability to dribble-drive and get layups, which he did on a number of occasions. The fans serenaded Williams with chants of “De-ron Williams! De-ron Williams!” and “MVP! MVP!” Chants befitting of a superstar, no doubt. Williams ended his evening 5-for-14 from the field and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc. He turned the ball over six times.
REVERSE POSTERIZATION: While Sasha Vujacic’s 40-footer to end the first quarter and Hakeem Warrick’s reverse dunk in the second quarter certainly stood out, nothing caught the fans’ attention like Kris Humphries’ block of Robin Lopez with 1:39 left in the first half. Lopez was just about to go in for an emphatic one-hander when Humphries came from the weak side, elevated and stuffed Lopez. The block brought the fans to their feet. Suffice to say, Lopez was upset there was no foul call. Sure there was some contact, but in our minds, the play was clean.
FUN FACT: Excluding Nets’ rookies, Williams is the first Net to ever start his career with three consecutive double-doubles. The 26-year-old All-Star had 14 points and 12 assists in his debut, while contributing 15 points and 17 assists in Saturday night’s matchup against the Houston Rockets. Jay-Z, Beyonce and former New York Giants imposing defensive end Michael Strahan attended tonight's game.
UP NEXT: Immediately following Monday night’s game, the Nets will board a charter plane headed for London. They’ll touch down at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Then, the fun will begin. In between sightseeing and being treated like rockstars, the Nets will get a couple practices in before they take on the Toronto Raptors at the O2 Arena on Friday and Saturday afternoon. It will be the NBA's first-ever regular season games played in Europe.