NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The only thing separating Deron Williams from a perfect debut in New Jersey with the Nets was a fraction of a second and another big shot by Channing Frye.
Frye hit his second game-winning shot in as many nights — a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds to play in overtime — and the Phoenix Suns spoiled Williams’ home debut as a Net by surviving a late tip-in by Kris Humphries for a 104-103 victory Monday night.
“It’s what you like to see, guys fighting out there,” said Williams, who wowed Nets fans with a season-high 18 assists. “We battled. We didn’t give up. We were right there. We had chances to win the ballgame. We just didn’t do a good job of closing it out.”
The difference between winning and losing was literally a split-second.
Humphries’ tip-in of Williams’ floater came a fraction of a second after the final buzzer. The videotape review showed the ball on Humpries’ right hand with the clock showing zeros.
“What a game,” coach Avery Johnson said after the Nets lost their sixth straight, and third since Williams joined the club. “I’m disappointed we came up on the losing end, that Deron’s shot didn’t go and that Humphries tip missed by a tenth of a second. That would have been a storybook ending.”
Still, the Nets faithful had to love Williams’ first game in New Jersey. He had 13 points and handed out five assists in rallying New Jersey from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth quarter.
The difference was Frye. He hit a long jumper to give the Suns a win over Indiana on Sunday night, and he shook off a tough shooting night to nail the only shot that counted with the game on the line again.
“Mr. Big Shot Frye,” veteran Grant Hill said as Frye talked about his shot.
“What did I have to lose,” said Frye, who was 3 of 8 from the field in scoring seven points. “I was the hero and been the goat the next day. What did we have to lose. The game should not have been there. For me that take that shot, it’s just confidence and getting open and getting a good look.”
Frye said the shot felt perfect after it left his hand.
“It was juicy. I knew it was good,” he said.
Frye also had the luxury of being wide open since Brook Lopez failed to switch on the play.
“It’s definitely on me,” said Lopez, who scored 28 points but missed a crucial free throw with 9.3 seconds to play in overtime. “We came back and Deron got a good look. I was right there, crashing the boards. I thought it was good. I will go to the grave thinking that.”
Williams said the final play was for him to fake a pick and roll and find the open man.
“There was really nobody open so I had to try and create,” said Williams, who sat out about 5 minutes in the fourth quarter with a bruised left hand. “Once I got around him, I figured time was about to expire so I had to throw up something. I probably wasn’t the shot we wanted.”
Marcin Gortat led the Suns with 17 points, one more the Hakim Warrick. Robin Lopez added 14 points and Steve Nash had 10 points and 15 assists for Phoenix, which won its fourth straight and 11th in 14 games.
Anthony Morrow added 22 for New Jersey, including nine in the final 22 seconds of regulation to force overtime. Humphries had 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Humphries gave the Nets a 102-99 lead with 1:46 left in the overtime, tipping in a miss by Williams, who came into the game with a strained right wrist.
Nash set up Gortat for a layup to cut the lead to a point, and the next minute or so was followed by a series of misses by both teams.
Hill and Nash, who was 3 of 13 from the field, missed shots in the final minute. Brook Lopez had a chance to extend the lead to three points with 9.3 seconds to go when he was fouled, but he missed the second of two free throws.
Phoenix called a timeout and set up Frye.
Williams seemed to will the overtime, assisting on the final five Nets baskets in regulation, including 3-pointers by Morrow with 22 and 10 seconds to play, the last one cutting the Suns’ lead to 94-93.
“It was good. The fans were great tonight,” Williams said. “We tried to get them a win. We just came up a little short.”
Phoenix seemed to be in control when Frye scored on a dunk off an inbound play with 8.5 seconds to go and the Nets out of time.
Williams got the inbound pass, dribbled up the court and found Morrow on the left wing for a 3-point attempt. Nash tried to block the shot and fouled the Nets guard with 2.5 seconds to go. The 90 percent free throw shooter hit nothing but net in tying the game.
“That’s ridiculous,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “That’s the worst basketball game I’ve seen down the stretch. That was horrible. We were lucky as anything to win the game.”
Phoenix called a timeout to set up a game-winning shot, but they were called for a five-second turnover, giving New Jersey the last shot. Sasha Vujacic could not beat the final buzzer with his off-balance attempt.
The Nets did their best to make Williams’ first game at the Prudential Center memorable. The first 10,000 fans received T-shirts with No. 8 on the front and his name on the back.
And when the lineups were introduced, Williams was saved for last and got the royal welcome from announcer Gary Sussman, with many in the crowd of 15,836 giving him a loud standing ovation, although there might have been some piped in noise to help.
Notes: Former Giants and Fox football analyst Michael Strahan was sitting courtside. Beyonce and rapper Jay-Z, a Nets’ minority owner, sat next to the New Jersey bench. … Humphries brought the crowd to its feet late in the first half by blocking a dunk attempt by Robin Lopez. … Vujacic seemed to wake the Nets up on the final play of the first quarter, hitting a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)