NEW YORK (AP) — Deron Williams’ presence has yet to help the New Jersey Nets end their latest rough stretch. A visit from the surging Phoenix Suns might further prolong that skid.
Making his home debut with his new club, Williams looks to help the Nets avoid a sixth consecutive loss Monday night while hoping for some rare success against the Suns, who seek a fourth straight victory.
Williams is still looking to get comfortable after he was the focal point of the stunning trade where Utah sent him to New Jersey (17-42) for point guard Devin Harris, rookie Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and $3 million in cash Wednesday.
Averaging a career-high 21.1 points this season, the two-time All-Star totaled 29 on 8-of-25 shooting, and 29 assists in a pair of double-digit losses at San Antonio and Houston in his first two games with his new team.
“It’s just a different language here than it was in Utah,” said Williams, who had 15 points and a season-high 17 assists in Saturday’s 123-108 loss to the Rockets. “I’m still trying to learn the calls and coverages and the things like that.
“That’s really what it’s about, trying to develop some sort of chemistry and get a feel for the offense.”
Williams, who has made no commitment to the Nets beyond 2012 when he can opt out of his contract, said he is still bothered by a sprained tendon in his right wrist.
“It’s going to continue to be sore,” Williams said. “Just got to play through it.”
The injury could have been a contributing factor for Williams averaging 14.3 points in the three games versus Phoenix this season. He did average 10.3 assists in those contests.
Without Williams, New Jersey took the Suns (30-27) to overtime before falling 118-109 at Phoenix on Jan. 12. The Nets have lost 12 of 14 to the Suns.
A good chunk of the Suns’ success in the series of late has come in New Jersey, where they’ve averaged 125.3 points and shot 54.8 percent during a four-game winning streak. That run began with a wild 161-157 double-overtime win Dec. 7, 2006.
Steve Nash scored 42 points for the Suns in that game and Vince Carter added 31 for the Nets. Now teammates, Nash had 23 with 16 assists and Carter also scored 23 against New Jersey last month.
Nash, averaging 21.3 points and 13.5 assists the last four games versus New Jersey, had 10 with 13 assists in Phoenix’s 110-108 overtime victory at Indiana on Sunday.
Just on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Suns have won 10 of 13 and are 2-0 on a season-high six-game trip.
“We’ve come and responded and had a sense of urgency,” forward Grant Hill told the Suns’ official website. “We’re playing our best basketball now. We just have to continue.”
Hill scored a season-high 34 points and Channing Frye hit a long jumper at the buzzer for the win.
One one of 15 active players with 16,000 career points, Hill has 12 games with 20 or more this season after registering just five in 81 games last season. He missed the January contest against the Nets because of a knee injury.
New Jersey’s Brook Lopez had 16 points with eight rebounds last month against the Suns and twin brother, Robin. Not a true offensive option like his brother, Robin Lopez scored 11 in that contest.
Updated February 27, 2011
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