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Nets offense thriving under Deron Williams

Marcus Henry | 4/12/2011, 4:45 p.m.

Talk about instant credibility.

The Nets acquisition of star point guard Deron Williams last week sent shockwaves throughout the basketball world. If anything, the move showed that the Nets mean business. It also showed how daring or desperate, depending on your point of view, the Nets are to build a winner.

Williams, who can opt out of his deal after the 2011-2012 season, would not commit to signing an extension with the Nets yet. So the risk for the Nets, who surrendered two first-round draft selections, including a lottery pick this summer, rookie forward Derek Favors and Devin Harris, is tremendous.

Nets fans certainly showed their appreciation for the move. The Prudential Center had one of its biggest crowds of the season -15,836- for Williams' debut against the Phoenix Suns on Monday. The Nets lost a heartbreaker in overtime, 104-103, but Williams bought enough excitement to make the loss forgivable.

"It was good. The fans were great tonight," said Williams, who had 18 assists. "We tried to get them a win. We just came up a little short."

It's too early to determine what kind of support the team will get the rest of the season, but if Monday's game was any indication, Williams won't have to worry about playing in front of an empty arena every night. He certainly wouldn't in Brooklyn. But that's only part of the story.

Williams wants to win. Reports had been running rampant that he wanted to join the Knicks and play with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. The NBA's tenuous labor situation has put all future plans in peril. For now everyone will just have to be content with enjoying the show.

Although the Nets had lost their first two games with their new acquisition, the offense has looked much better with Williams running things. "It's great," Nets coach Avery Johnson said after Monday's loss. "This is kind of the way we like to play."

The Nets had five players in double figures and shot 47 percent from the field against Phoenix. Johnson put in a new offense recently to run through Williams.

"It was a good welcome for him," Johnson said. "He really felt at home out there."

The Nets looked even better on Friday against the Toronto Raptors in London as they earned a 116-103 win. Williams had just 16 points, but he had 11 of the Nets 24 assists. Four other players finished in double figures as the Nets shot 55.6 percent from the field.