Benching Deron Williams turned out to be a genius move by Nets coach Lionel Hollins, as the Nets roared back to win game 4 and even their series with the Hawks. Williams had looked like a barracuda out of water in games 2 and 3--and the Nets' first round climb against the 60-win top-seed Atlanta Hawks looked too steep. Williams, who in the past has ranked among the top guards in the NBA (and who has a salary to prove it), has had health troubles all year. He showed flashes of his former self this season, but rarely the full package, as the Nets fought into the last playoff spot in the weaker Eastern Conference. It looked like a pyrrhic victory--that 8 spot--foretelling only a quick ouster by the formidable Hawks.
The series started that way, too. Deron Williams had five points TOTAL in games 2 and 3. Nets head coach Lionel Hollins actually benched Williams for the entire 4th quarter of game 3, which the Nets somehow won anyway at home. That benching lit something in Williams, who in game 4 seemed to remember he was a star. (And his beat-up body remembered, too.) Williams had 35 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. The Nets bested the Hawks 120-115.
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