NEW YORK — Linsanity started against the New Jersey Nets, and this time All-Star guard Deron Williams was determined not to be embarrassed by the Harvard guy again.
Williams scored a season-high 38 points, outplaying Jeremy Lin and leading the Nets to a 100-92 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
Lin began his remarkable run against the Nets about two weeks ago, but Williams and the Nets were ready for him this time.
Lin finished with 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, but Williams outscored him 36-11 through three quarters, when the Nets led by 18. Lin shot only 7 of 18 and the Knicks lost for the second time in 10 games since his emergence against the Nets on Feb. 4.
"I think me in particular didn't come with the defensive energy we needed. Obviously, Deron Williams going for 30-whatever he had is not going to get it done," Lin said. "So I needed to come out with more energy, the team needed to come out with more energy and I think at the end of the day, I think that's why the team lost."
Carmelo Anthony, clearly rusty in his return from a seven-game absence with a strained right groin, shot 4 of 11 and scored 11 points.
Williams scored 18 in the third quarter, including 12 straight Nets points during one surge. Clearly amped up for the rematch – maybe too much so, because he fouled out with 3:07 left – he skipped across the court with three fingers in the air after burying a second straight 3-pointer during his blistering stretch.
MarShon Brooks had 18 points for the Nets in their third game in three nights.
They shut down a Knicks offense that rang up 104 points against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, when Lin had 28 points and a career-best 14 assists.
But Williams was locked in this time, and the U.S. Olympian could've gone for plenty more if not for spending most of the fourth quarter on the bench in foul trouble. But by then he had the Nets too far ahead for the Knicks to catch.
Williams, who shot 7 of 19 in the first meeting, made eight 3-pointers and was 10 of 22 overall on Monday.
"I don't think Deron Williams needs much of a prod," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That's one of the best guards in the league. Jeremy still got 21 and nine. He had a great game, good game. Deron had a great game and that'll be that way sometimes. Again, I'm not big on the matchups just because it's a team thing and as a team we just didn't perform very well."
The Knicks had their five-game winning streak against the Nets snapped and failed again to move back over .500.
Baron Davis had three points in 9 minutes in his Knicks debut after overcoming a herniated disk in his back. Expected to be the starter whenever he became available, he'll be Backup Baron as long as Lin keeps it up.
The Knicks were 8-15, coming off losses on consecutive nights, and had already fallen into a double-digit hole against the Nets on Feb. 4 when Lin got his chance, coming off the bench for 25 points in a 99-92 victory.
So uncertain of his NBA future at the time that he refused to get his own place to live, Lin slept on teammate Landry Fields' couch the night before that game.
The days of sleeping on couches and riding the benches are long gone.
Lin had since averaged 25 points and 9.2 assists, the most remarkable story in the NBA this season. And even the Nets have been impressed. Coach Avery Johnson praised Lin and downplayed the notion that his stats were a product of D'Antoni's system, though Johnson also wasn't buying a certain comparison that has been popping up more regularly.
"I've heard a lot of different stories and even I got a question from even my daughter whether Lin was in (Steve) Nash's category. So we don't want to go there, OK?" he said. "It's only been nine games. Give the kid a chance.
"It's a great story and he's inspiring a lot of kids, but let's give the kid a chance to play a whole season, maybe even play a playoff series, before you know, we start putting him in Nash's category."
Nor is he in Williams' category. The All-Star point guard was in constant motion with or without the ball, powering his way to the basket on drives or hitting from well beyond the 3-point arc – once while being fouled by Lin for a four-point play.
It was a learning experience for Lin, anonymous last month but a marked man in the league now.
Knicks ratings have surged – Sunday's victory earned ABC's third-highest overnight rating ever for a non-Christmas broadcast – and celebrities are packing Madison Square Garden again. New parents Jay-Z, a part-owner of the Nets, and Beyonce were in the crowd for this one.
Lin graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was the subject of a sketch on "Saturday Night Live" and there's no telling how far his celebrity will rise. The online sports book bovada.lv even is giving 5 to 1 odds he'll go on a date before the NBA finals are over with Kim Kardashian, split from Nets forward Kris Humphries.
Humphries, booed as usual since their brief marriage, had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and drew technicals on the Knicks when Anthony tried to trip him and when Tyson Chandler followed him to the bench jawing during a timeout.
The only question left for Lin was what he would do with Anthony, who was hurt 6 minutes into Lin's starting debut two nights after that Nets game. Both players scoffed at the idea that Anthony would mess it up, and Anthony has even said he went to D'Antoni and told him to give Lin more minutes – though the coach had no recollection of it.
Anthony's first basket came off a connection with Lin, setting a pick and popping out for a jumper. But the Knicks' offense went stagnant in the second quarter, and Williams took over the game in the third.
Notes: Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert sat out with a left knee injury and will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break. ... Nets C Brook Lopez, who just returned Sunday after breaking his foot in the preseason, sat out as part of the plan to not play him yet on back-to-back nights. ... The Knicks honored former coach Joe Lapchick, and players Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton and John Rucker as part of their "Pioneer Night: A Celebration In Black History." Clifton was the first African-American to play for the Knicks, though Rucker preceded him by two weeks in training camp in 1950, becoming the first African-American to wear the team's uniform.