Deron Williams takes full responsibility for Linsanity.
”This all started on me,” the New Jersey Nets star said.
He was ready Monday night when he got another shot at the kid from Harvard.
Williams scored a season-high 38 points, outplaying Lin and leading the Nets to a 100-92 victory over the New York Knicks in a game the All-Star guard said was circled on his calendar.
Lin began his remarkable run against New Jersey, but Williams and the Nets were geared up this time for him and Carmelo Anthony, who returned to the Knicks lineup after missing seven games with a strained right groin.
”I don’t really watch too many games, but I do see Twitter, people tweet me and every, you know, three lines it was `Jeremy Lin destroyed Deron Williams,”’ Williams said. ”So I definitely took offense to that in the first game and definitely, like I said, I had it circled.”
Lin finished with 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, but Williams outscored him 36-11 through three quarters, when the Nets led by 18. Lin shot only 7 of 18 and the Knicks lost for the second time in 10 games since his emergence against the Nets on Feb. 4.
”I think me, in particular, didn’t come with the defensive energy we needed. Obviously, Deron Williams going for 30-whatever he had is not going to get it done,” Lin said. ”So I needed to come out with more energy, the team needed to come out with more energy and I think at the end of the day, I think that’s why the team lost.”
Anthony, clearly rusty, shot 4 of 11 and scored 11 points.
”My mindset was not try to come in and do too much. Try to fit in. Try to play my game within the system the way that they’ve been playing the last couple weeks,” Anthony said.
”Passing the ball, find the open man, making the right play. I felt good with that. It was just one of those games where I had to come out and get the rust off of me a little bit and get ready for Atlanta (on Wednesday).”
Williams scored 18 in the third quarter, including 12 straight Nets points during one surge. Clearly amped up for the rematch — maybe too much so, because he fouled out with 3:07 left — he skipped across the court with three fingers in the air after burying a second straight 3-pointer during his blistering stretch.
MarShon Brooks had 18 points as the Nets, playing their third game in three nights, surprised a crowd looking for a repeat of their last trip across the Hudson River.
New Jersey shut down a Knicks offense that rang up 104 points against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, when Lin had 28 points and a career-best 14 assists.
But Williams was locked in this time, and the US Olympian could’ve gone for plenty more if not for spending most of the fourth quarter on the bench in foul trouble. But by then he had the Nets too far ahead for the Knicks to catch.
Williams, who shot 7 of 19 in the first meeting, made eight 3-pointers and was 10 of 22 overall on Monday.
”I don’t think Deron Williams needs much of a prod,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”That’s one of the best guards in the league. Jeremy still got 21 and nine. He had a great game, good game. Deron had a great game and that’ll be that way sometimes. Again, I’m not big on the matchups just because it’s a team thing and as a team we just didn’t perform very well.”
The Knicks (16-17) had their five-game winning streak against the Nets snapped and failed again to move back over .500.
Baron Davis had three points in 9 minutes in his Knicks debut after overcoming a herniated disk in his back. Expected to be the starter whenever he became available, he’ll be Backup Baron as long as Lin keeps it up.
The Knicks were 8-15, coming off losses on consecutive nights, and already had fallen into a double-digit hole against the Nets on Feb. 4 when Lin got his chance, coming off the bench for 25 points in a 99-92 victory.
So uncertain of his NBA future at the time that he refused to get his own place to live, Lin slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before that game.
The days of sleeping on couches and riding the benches are long gone.
Lin had since averaged 25 points and 9.2 assists, the most remarkable story in the NBA this season. And even the Nets have been impressed.
”It’s an amazing story,” Williams said. ”He was going to get cut the next day and then (to) come out and play the way he did against us and just keep it going the way he has… Even tonight he had a great game, and it was going to get overshadowed because of mine. He’s playing great basketball.”
Anthony could tell Williams was ready, and the point guard was in constant motion with or without the ball, powering his way to the basket on drives or hitting from well beyond the 3-point arc — once while being fouled by Lin for a four-point play.
It was a learning experience for Lin, anonymous last month but a marked man in the league now.
Knicks ratings have surged — Sunday’s victory earned ABC’s third-highest overnight rating ever for a non-Christmas broadcast — and celebrities are packing Madison Square Garden again. New parents Jay-Z, a part-owner of the Nets, and Beyonce were in the crowd for this one.
Lin graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was the subject of a sketch on ”Saturday Night Live,” and there’s no telling how far his celebrity will rise. The online sports book bovada.lv even is giving 5 to 1 odds that before the NBA Finals are over he’ll go on a date with Kim Kardashian, split from Nets forward Kris Humphries.
Humphries, booed as usual since their brief marriage, had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and drew technicals on the Knicks when Anthony tried to trip him and when Tyson Chandler followed him to the bench jawing during a timeout.
”They’re winning games. It was our goal to come in here and put an end to all that in terms of them versus us. We were able to do that,” Humphries said. ”We got on top of them. We played unbelievable. We had a great effort from a lot of guys.”
The only question left for Lin was what he would do with Anthony, who was hurt 6 minutes into Lin’s starting debut two nights after that Nets game. Both players scoffed at the idea that Anthony would mess it up, and Anthony has even said he went to D’Antoni and told him to give Lin more minutes — though the coach had no recollection of it.
Anthony’s first basket came off a connection with Lin, setting a pick and popping out for a jumper. But the Knicks’ offense went stagnant in the second quarter, and Williams took over the game in the third.
Notes: Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert sat out with a left knee injury and will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break. … Nets C Brook Lopez, who just returned Sunday after breaking his foot in the preseason, sat out as part of the plan to not play him yet on back-to-back nights. … The Knicks honored former coach Joe Lapchick, and players Nat ”Sweetwater” Clifton and John Rucker as part of their ”Pioneer Night: A Celebration In Black History.” Clifton was the first African-American to play for the Knicks, though Rucker preceded him by two weeks in training camp in 1950, becoming the first African-American to wear the team’s uniform.