New Jersey's Deron Williams, shown taking on Ramon Sessions on Tuesday… (Michael Nelson / EPA )
His two late-game three-pointers helped the New Jersey Nets mount a final charge. But the Nets' eventual 91-87 loss Tuesday to the Lakers left guard Deron Williams with just another reminder of the team's shortcomings. It also heightened his frustration over New Jersey (19-36) remaining out of postseason contention.
"It's tough," Williams said. "I'm a competitor and I love being in the playoffs. There's nothing like playoff basketball, but it is what it is."
If Williams wants to experience that again, he may have to leave the Nets once he becomes a free agent this summer. Williams remained silent on the possibility of ever joining the Lakers, though they'd have to clear a bloated payroll or trade away assets to make that work. After declining a pre-game interview with The Times, Williams then offered, "I'll play out the season and see how it goes."
Nonetheless, Williams' frustration contrasts with Jordan Farmar's experience with New Jersey. The two say they've become close a little over a year after the Utah Jazz traded Williams to the Nets. While Williams says he remains frustrated with the losing despite leading the team in points per game (21.6), Jordan has tolerated it. After signing a three-year, $12-million deal with New Jersey in 2010, Farmar contends he's expanded his game after feeling restricted from Phil Jackson's triangle offense with the Lakers.
"I've grown a lot," said Farmar, who's averaged a career-high 10.4 points on 46.7% shooting this season. "I'm a much different player. I can play on the ball. I can play off the ball. I can run screen-and-roll. I can do a lot of things that I didn't have the opportunity to do [in Los Angeles]."
He didn't have that opportunity against his former team. Farmar remained in street clothes because of a sore right groin. He's undergone platelet-rich plasma therapy to heal his injury, a similar procedure Lakers guard Kobe Bryant had on his surgically repaired right knee and left ankle last summer in Germany. Bryant didn't offer any sympathy, though. The moment his game-clinching three-pointer fell through after a few bounces, Bryant pretended to shoot a pistol at his former Lakers teammate.
"That was for Jordan Farmar," Bryant said with a smile. "We were having a running dialogue throughout the end of the game. "
None of that dialogue involved any lingering regrets Farmar might have over leaving the Lakers. New Coach Mike Brown's more traditional offense and the team's emphasis on upgrading at point guard might have left Farmar with a larger role.
"You just keep playing," said Farmar, a former UCLA product. "I had a contract year then and now I'm happy with my development. I like the situation here in Jersey and where it's going in the future."
It remains to be seen whether Williams feels the same sentiments.
"There's been some ups and downs," he said. "I've lost my head a couple times throughout the season because I'm so competitive and I can't stand losing. But for the most part, I bring it every night and lead by example and keep these guys together."