Williams picks Nets instead of Mavs

Star guard Deron Williams will sign a five-year, $98 million deal with the Nets, spurning his hometowm Mavs. GETTY IMAGES

Deron Williams is moving to Brooklyn with the Nets, instead of back home to Dallas.

The All-Star point guard said on his Twitter page Tuesday night that he “made a very tough decision today” and posted a picture of the Nets’ new team logo that accompanies their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

A person with knowledge of the decision said Williams told the team he was accepting their five-year contract worth $98 million. The person confirmed the agreement on condition of anonymity because contracts can’t be signed until July 11.

Williams, the top free agent available, chose to stay with the Nets over signing with the Mavericks, who hoped they could convince him to come back to the area where he grew up.

It’s a huge triumph for the Nets as they prepare to move into the new Barclays Center to start the 2012-13 season. They gave up an enormous package to get Williams in a surprising February 2011 trade, sending promising forward Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and cash to the Utah Jazz.

But it was worth it for the Nets, who needed a franchise ? player to build buzz for their move to New York.

Williams wanted to make a quick decision before he reports to training camp in Las Vegas with the U.S. Olympic squad Thursday. He met with both teams Monday, the day after free agency opened.

Williams’ decision comes a day after the Nets agreed to a deal with Atlanta for All-Star guard Joe Johnson, and amid reports they are still hoping to make a deal with Orlando for Dwight Howard. Brooklyn also has a deal in place to re-sign versatile free agent forward Gerald Wallace.

Just two years after a 70-loss season, the Nets will have one of the NBA’s best backcourts and are poised to make a quick move up the Eastern Conference standings.

Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks had spoken openly about their desire to bring Williams back to North Texas, where he starred at The Colony High School. Owner Mark Cuban’s team never made much attempt to defend its 2011 NBA title, letting key players such as Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea leave through free agency so the Mavs could save money for this summer’s free agency.

But Dallas could only offer Williams a four-year deal worth about $75 million under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Another development Tuesday could leave Dallas with even more questions about what to do next. ESPN.com reported that the Celtics were closing in on a three-year deal that pays $5 million per season to guard Jason Terry, a former Sixth Man of the Year who was key in helping the Mav?ericks win their first championship two seasons ago.

As for the Nets, they’re retaining one of the league’s top point guards. Williams averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists last season and had a 57-point game. He was ahead of his competitors when last season started after playing in Turkey during the lockout.

The Jazz decided to deal him at the 2011 deadline after a clash with former Utah coach Jerry Sloan, and without knowing if Williams would stay there long-term.

Williams didn’t always seem to enjoy playing in New Jersey, with the Nets spending the last two seasons in a temporary home in Newark.

Game analysis: Sunday’s loss will hurt more later

The Spurs’ hardest week of the season to date started Sunday night in a bad way.

After struggling down the stretch against Minnesota Friday night, the Spurs almost stole a victory at Dallas thanks to a dramatic bench performance before falling 101-100 in overtime.

As much as the Spurs might feel good about the bench’s effort, the realization that games against Memphis, Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City loom in the next six days remains daunting.    

Sunday night might be a moral victory for some, but the Spurs still lost to a division foe and their most bitter rival to boot. They fell out of first place in a game where they limited Dirk Nowitzki to 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting and still lost.

The bench played well, but ran out of gas at the end.

It’s a loss that likely will hurt more on April 26 — the day the season ends — than it does now.

Game analysis: After a struggling effort by the regulars, the Spurs’ bench made a strong comeback before wearing out late in regulation and in overtime against the defending NBA champions.

Where the game was won: After Danny Green’s layup gave the Spurs a 98-95 lead with 1:18 left in overtime, Dallas went to its veterans to claim the comeback. Nowitzki overcame a frigid shooting night to hit a banker. Jason Terry then hit 12-foot turnaround and a pair of free throws to put them ahead 101-98. Gary Neal’s layup pulled them within a point, but Green’s game-winning 27-footer at the buzzer clanked off the rim to allow Dallas to escape.

Look at the monitor to see how close the Spurs came:   The Spurs had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Green’s game-winning hoop was waved off when replays showed it was released a millisecond after the buzzer.

Give it up to the bench: Terry’s jumper gave Dallas a 67-49 lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter, the Spurs bench hit the Mavericks with a 35-8 spurt that gave them an 84-75 lead on Neal’s jumper with 5:33 left. Popovich stayed with them for the rest of regulation and the subs couldn’t make that cushion stand up as Dallas charged back.

Player of the game I: Spurs Nation favorite Terry earned a few more boos on his next trip to the ATT Center after erupting for a season-high 34 points on 14-for-23 shooting.

Player of the game II: It looked like  it was 1999 all over after a couple of Vince Carter’s circus shots. It helped him score 21 points as the Spurs struggled to contain him throughout the game.

Player of the game III:  Neal had been looking for a breakout game all season as he plays himself into shape after missing training camp with appendicitis. He might have gotten that effort Sunday with a season-high 19 points, seven assists and three 3-pointers as he helped  boost San Antonio’s strong bench effort with 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Most unsung: Most observers think  the Mavericks will miss  Tyson Chandler as the season progresses. That might be true, but Rick Carlisle got a nice effort out of his pivot tandem of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi. The center duo combined for only seven points, but contributed 16 rebounds and six blocked shots as they made life difficult inside for the Spurs throughout the game.

Did you notice I: The loudest cheerleaders for the Spurs at Sunday’s game were their starters on the bench.  Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were giggling like JV members throughout the fourth quarter as the Spurs’ bench nearly escaped with the victory.

Did you notice II: The men in the striped shirts didn’t have a good night — particularly down the stretch. First, game officials appeared to miss a traveling call on Nowitzki as he clumsly tried to get the ball up court while appearing to try to call a timeout before Dallas’ final possession of regulation. And Bill Kennedy was woefully out of place on the Spurs’ final play in overtime, running into Green before his desperation heave at the buzzer.

Stat of the game: After being outscored by the Dallas bench 26-4 to start the game, San Antonio’s substitutes accounted for its final 51 points of the game.

Stat of the game II : San Antonio hit 7 of 8 from 3-point territory in the fourth quarter after starting the game hitting 4 of 14 from beyond the arc.

Stat of the game III: The Spurs hit only 10 of 19 foul shots. Their 52.6 percentage was a season-low and was their lowest since shooting 50 percent from the line in a loss to Portland on March 28, 2011.

Weird stat of the game: Nowitzki was limited 10 points in 37:54. It marked only the eighth time in Nowitzki’s career that he has been limited to 10 points or less in at least 37 minutes.

Weird stat of the game II: After grabbing only two offensive rebounds Friday night at Minnesota, the Spurs bounced back to grab 14 against the Mavericks. It was one of their five top offensive rebounding efforts of the season.

Not a good sign: The Spurs hit 41.5 percent from the field, marking their second straight game below 42 percent. The Spurs have shot 41.4 percent in their two most recent road losses after hitting 52.9 percent in victories over New Orleans and Atlanta last week.

Best plus/minus scores: James Anderson was plus-17, Neal was plus-9 and Tiago Splitter and Green were plus-8.

Worst plus/minus scores: Kawhi Leonard and Parker were minus-10 and Richard Jefferson was minus-9.

Quote of the game: “You don’t see that very often, but we were on fire shooting threes. That got us back in the game. It was simple as that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich describing his bench’s late perimeter spurt.

How the schedule stacks up: The Spurs will travel to Memphis for the back end of a back-to-back on Monday. They then will entertain Houston on Wednesday, New Orleans on Thursday and Oklahoma City on Saturday. Dallas will travel to Phoenix on Monday before home games Wednesday against Oklahoma City and Friday against Indiana.

Injuries: Manu Ginobili missed his 16th game (Spurs record 9-7) after undergoing surgery for a fractured fifth left metacarpal.  T.J. Ford missed his 11th game (Spurs record 6-5) with a torn left hamstring. Minnesota starting point guard Jason Kidd is expected to miss about a week with a strained right calf. Nowitzki returned to action after missing the last four games with knee/conditioning issues.

Game rewind: No style points, but it’s still a win over Dallas

It might have been ugly only in the eye of the beholder.

The Spurs’ 93-71 victory over Dallas Thursday night showed post-lockout basketball at its very worst.

But even with the offensive challenges for both teams, the Spurs claimed their fifth straight home victory as they endured their first three-games-in-four-night stretch of the season.

Here’s how they did it. 

Game analysis: It was an understandable result in a game where the Spurs utilized one of their best 3-point shooting games in team history against one of Dallas’ worst. Throw in 10 Dallas turnovers before San Antonio’s first miscue and a blowout might have been expected.

Where the game was won:  The Spurs jumped on Dallas early, scoring on a 3-pointer by Gary Neal on their first possession and never trailing. In the first five minutes, they hit Dallas with a 19-4 run keyed by three 3-pointers and never looked back.

Player of the game I: Matt Bonner went for 17 points, including five 3-pointers  in his best shooting game of the season.

Player of the game II: Richard Jefferson was efficient in many areas Thursday night. Not only did he continue his recent scoring binge with 16 points, but he also provided some tough rebounding and even a couple of notable defensive plays.

Player of the game III: Danny Green wasn’t hesistant to look for his shot as he scored eight points in 24 minutes. He again was an active on defense and was Popovich’s first substitute, gaining his trust to play a lot of early minutes.

Most unsung: Gary Neal. Without Manu Ginobili in the lineup,  the Spurs needed somebody to step up. Neal did it quickly with three 3-pointers in less than six minutes. The game was effectively over by the time he left the lineup for the first time.

Did you notice: Play was stopped in the third period when referees noticed that a fan was shining a laser light at players on the court. After the perpetrator was found, the game continued.

Stat of the game: The Spurs hit 16 3-pointers and Dallas had one.

Stat of the game II: Before Jason Terry’s 3-pointer late in the third quarter, the Mavericks missed their first 13 3-pointers.

Stat of the game III: For the first time since 2007-08, the Spurs have won their first five home games of the season.

Weird stat of the game: The Spurs shot 34.0 percent of their shots inside the 3-point arc against Dallas and 48.5 percent of their attempts outside of it.

Weird stat of the game II: According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Spurs became only the 16th team since 1985 to win a game by at least 22 points when shooting less than 40 percent from the field. San Antonio finished at 39.5 percent.

Quote of the game: ”You didn’t see the real Dirk Nowitzki tonight, that’s for sure,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, commenting on Nowitzki six points on 3-for-11 shooting in 24 minutes. It was the first time that Nowitzki had scored six points or less in a game  with at least 20 minutes since a playoff loss to Portland on May 2, 2003. 

How the schedule stacks up: The schedule can be blamed for the struggles by both teams Thursday night. Both teams were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Spurs are in the middle of a run of four games in five nights. Dallas was playing its fourth game in five nights and will finish a stretch of five games in seven games with a home game against New Orleans Saturday night.

Injuries: Ginobili missed his second game after undergoing surgery earlier in the day for a fractured fifth left metacarpal. Dallas guard Jason Kidd suffered a lower back injury in the final minute of the first quarter and did not return. Kidd failed to score in 11:32 of game action.