NBA

Williams to play vs. Raptors in London

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LONDON (AP)

New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams will play despite a wrist and hand injury against the Toronto Raptors on Friday in the NBA's first regular-season game in Europe.

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Williams, who was traded from the Utah Jazz last week, has a strained right wrist and bruised left hand but said Wednesday it wouldn't stop him from taking the court at the O2 Arena in London.

"I'm playing," said Williams, who strained his wrist before coming to the Nets, and then bruised his other hand on Monday in an overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Nets coach Avery Johnson also seemed comfortable with Williams' status for Friday's game, the first of two "home" games against the Raptors.

"He's in good shape right now," Johnson said.

The Nets have only played one home game since Williams joined the team, and they are giving up two more to be in the British capital this weekend.

"It's not easy necessarily losing home games, and no NBA team necessarily wants to do it," Johnson said. "But you're going to see this happening more and more, and especially with our team with the presence of our owner (Russian businessman) Mikhail Prokhorov."

But the chance to go international could backfire when it comes to the home-court advantage, according to the Raptors.

Both teams have Europeans on their rosters, but the Raptors boast Italy center Andrea Bargnani and Spain guard Jose Calderon - two of best continental players in the NBA.

"I definitely think we have an advantage with Andrea, Jose," Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said. "People over here have definitely seen them play before. We have the home-court advantage."

Raptors coach Jim Triano was also looking at the trip as a bonus for his team in general and his European players specifically.

"Just to be just a little closer to home," Triano said. "I know that some of them have family and friends coming that are in to watch them and it feels like a little bit of a homecoming for them.

"And that's an advantage for us."

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Although the Nets will be missing out on their usual crowd, forward Kris Humphries hopes the fans in London will give the team a bit of boost nonetheless.

"Hopefully the people of the U.K. treat us like we're the home team," Humphries said. "It probably will be (neutral), but it's an experience and you just got to roll with it."

But more than worrying about the venue, Johnson is interested in making his new star player fit in and contribute - as he did in the loss to Suns with 13 points and 18 assists.

"We've got to make sure we have plays that fit his abilities," Johnson said. "He's a really good 3-point shooter, so we got to run more plays where he can shoot 3s.

"A lot of the plays we had just didn't fit his skill level, so again, we just threw them out. They're in the trash can. We kept some of the ones that fit his game."

And besides basketball, there are other pressing issues in the back of the mind of Nets center Brook Lopez.

"I need to get some shopping done," Lopez said. "My family sent me a huge shopping list, a laundry list of things I need to get."

Tagged: Nets, Raptors, Deron Williams

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