Deron Williams didn't re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets simply to get off to a promising start, which may be why he's not exactly celebrating the team's success to date.
The Sacramento Kings, though, gladly would trade places.
Brooklyn seeks its fifth straight victory when it kicks off a three-game trip through California against struggling Sacramento on Sunday night.
Williams scored 24 points and dished out eight assists in Thursday's 102-97 win over Boston, giving the Nets (5-2) their biggest victory since moving from New Jersey prior to the season.
Williams signed a long-term deal in the offseason to help lead the team's relocation effort to compete among the heavyweights in the Eastern Conference. While he's proud of the solid start, he said there's plenty Brooklyn can improve.
"We're 5-2, so we're definitely happy with the record," Williams said. "We feel like we haven't played even close to our best basketball, so that's the most promising thing, is that we still have a lot of room for improvement on both ends of the floor. We'll keep working on it, whether it's in practice or in games, until we get better.
``This was a huge win for us."
Brook Lopez, who also signed a long-term deal in the offseason, matched Williams' game-high point total, and the acquisition of Joe Johnson from Atlanta paid possibly its biggest dividends Thursday.
Johnson hit two big baskets in the final three minutes. He made only 6 of his 19 shots, but his clutch hoops proved to be the difference.
``Down the stretch I die for moments like that,' Johnson said. ``I just didn't make shots like I normally do, but in the last three or four minutes of the game I tried to focus a little more and just be a little more aggressive.'
Brooklyn will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday before Wednesday's meeting with Golden State, and it would like to get the trip started on a positive note against the struggling Kings.
Sacramento (2-7) held a players-only meeting after Friday's 112-96 loss to Atlanta that marked its fourth straight defeat.
DeMarcus Cousins returned after serving a two-game suspension and scored nine points while adding a season-high 16 rebounds and seven assists, but he shot only 4 of 15 from the field.
``He was rusty, he has been out of rhythm for two games,' coach Keith Smart said. ``Sometimes you come back and you're probably being hard on yourself, trying to get out of a slump.
"We're having a very rough time and it's not fun for anyone.'
Jason Thompson added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who Cousins said didn't hold anything back during the meeting. Sacramento is allowing 100.1 points per game while scoring an average of 91.3 - both among the worst in the Western Conference.
``We just put it all on the table. We talked about what we needed to do and what it's going to take to help this team get better,' Cousins said. ``We were all in a bad mood.'
Williams finished with 19 points and 15 assists to trump 23 points from Tyreke Evans in the Nets' 111-99 victory in the most recent meeting March 31, their fifth win in the last seven matchups with the Kings.
The Associated Press News Service
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