Awful Start, Deron Williams Prove Too Much for Sixers in OT Loss

Awful Start, Deron Williams Prove Too Much for Sixers in OT Loss

Deron Williams killed the Sixers all night long on Wednesday night, finishing with 34 points and 11 dimes, including the easy layup with seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

"Deron Williams, to say the least, was absolutely sensational tonight," Doug Collins said after the game. "That's probably the best performance we've seen from a guard tonight. He just absolutely was not going to let them lose that game."

Sometimes you run into guys having night's like Deron does. You take your punch to the chin and come back ready to play tomorrow.

Still, Sixers had their chances to take the game in the extra frame, but Deron was too much for them to handle on this night.

As Jrue Holiday pointed out after the game, Williams stepped up in the clutch when the Nets needed big shots, but he was also 14-28 shooting. So when you take 28 shots, 34 isn't all that outlandish.

Deron was the best player on the court on Wednesday night in a game that was sloppy all around. It was probably the Sixers weakest effort of the season. They got out to an awful start to the game, with three quick turnovers, and kind of never really found their groove all night long.

Despite playing poorly for most of the night, and missing Thad Young for a portion (not to mention Spence and Nik), the Sixers still somehow found themselves in a position to get a win late.

After looking like they were one stop away from a W in regulation-- Deron did it to them with seconds to go in the 4th -- the Sixers later found themselves down two bucks in overtime with a potential win slipping away. Even then, they showed some fight, perhaps the only real takeaway from an ugly loss.

Jrue Holiday took the ball hard to the rock, got a call, and hit two bounce-around free throws to pull within two points with about two minutes left in overtime. A stop at the other end set up a Lou Williams jumper to tie things at 88 apiece. Then, somewhat inexplicably, the Nets threw the ball away to Jrue Holiday who took it straight down the floor for the easy go-ahead dunk with 1:17 remaining in OT.

Defense could have won it once again, but Deron proved too much again, as he did all night long.

The Nets went right back to Williams, who got Jodie Meeks on an isso and hit the game-tying jumper with a minute to play. The Sixers came back down the floor and settled for a... mildly-contested Jodie Meeks three-ball? Didn't like that shot selection at that situation (unless it goes in, natch).

Deron came right back at them and hit a dagger three-ball to put New Jersey up for good, 93-90.

So trailing by 3 with 26.8 seconds left and the ball, the Sixers went back to Lou who hit the biggest shot of the night for the Sixers at the end of regulation. He got a decent look, but had a tall Kris Humphries in his face. It was off target and the Nets would go on to win 95-92.

Live by the Lou, die by the Lou.

The Sixers may have been in this game, but this was a poor effort. Coach Collins admitted after the game that the Nets had control of the game all night long, won every phase of the game, and earned the road win.

Despite the great promise this team has shown this season, tonight was another reminder that while they have options that aren't Andre Iguodala with the clock ticking down, they still don't have a legit closer on a consistent basis.

*

NOTES: The attendance of 13,138 was an improvement over Monday's poor showing of 10,108, but was still lacking. Andy Reid was in the building in a suite. No word on whether this had to do with it being Dollar Dog Night at the Wells Fargo Center or if he was scouting for a defensive coordinator.

Kris Humphries heard some unique taunting from the WFC crowd. My favorite was the "REG-GIE BUSH! REG-GIE BUSH!" chants. I chuckled.

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).