Slumping Deron Williams throws some blame toward Nets system

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Remember how Deron Williams felt confined in the Jazz “flex” offense and reportedly his clashes with Jerry Sloan led to the long-time coach’s exit?

In hindsight, that offense wasn’t so bad.

In his last season in Utah (53 games before a surprising mid-season trade) Williams was averaging 21.3 points a game on 45.8 percent shooting, while dishing out 9.7 assists per game. He had a PER of 22.1. In contrast, this season in Brooklyn he is scoring 17 points a game on 38.8 percent shooting, with 8.3 assists per game and a PER of 17.4. Pick a category and Williams is worse at it after the trade, pretty consistently across the board.

As Ethan Sherwood Straus noted recently at Bleacher Report, part of the problem is Williams is not getting to the rim as often — that last season in Utah Williams got 4.3 shots a game inside the restricted area, this season that is 2.5 per game. He’s replaced that mostly with threes and Williams is shooting just 29.9 percent from three.

So now it’s Avery Johnson’s system that is part of the problem. It’s hard to take Williams’ comments any other way. Via Howard Beck at the New York Times.

“That system was a great system for my style of play,” Williams said of the “flex” offense run by Utah Coach Jerry Sloan. “I’m a system player. I love Coach Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there….

(Williams) was asked to compare the offense used by the Nets with the one he ran in Utah. “Is it as good as there? No,” he said. “There’s just more one-on-one and isos” in Johnson’s offense.

As Beck notes, the Nets have added some “UCLA” sets to the offense (something a lot of NBA teams run) to mimic some of the flex motion.

Williams may not have asked for a trade to New Jersey but the Jazz felt they had to move him before he just left. They played it smart, they did not get themselves into a Dwight Howard situation. Williams wanted some freedom in the offense, now he’s got it.

He says it’s just a matter of adjusting.

“I’m used to just movement,” he said, “so I’m still trying to adjust.”

But, Williams said, “I believe I can adapt to anything. We’re still a young team. Things don’t happen overnight. It’s still just December.”

We will see.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)