Deron Williams clearly doesn't like being relegated to a secondary role in the discussion on local point guards.
Williams, who was the opponent for the birth of the Jeremy Lin era, was the reason why the giddiness ended inside the Garden on Monday night. His 38 points, including an 18-point third quarter, and the chippy attitude he supplied his team were the biggest factors in the Nets' 100-92 victory over the Knicks.
That attitude filtered down to the rest of a team that hasn't shown much backbone this season and the Nets came in with a determination to spoil all the fun that Knicks fans were having after Sunday's Garden party against Dallas.
Kris Humphries annoyed Tyson Chandler into silly fouls while dominating the boards, DeShawn Stevenson sank open threes and the Knicks defense couldn't figure out how to stop any of it.
While there were other contributing factors to the Knicks' defeat, the fact that they allowed Williams and his mates to go 15-of-31 from three is an unavoidable explanation for what went wrong.
Unless, of course, you already decided to make it all about Carmelo Anthony's inability to share the court with Lin.
Plenty of people decided togo that route, not surprising considering how much was invested in that narrative before there was any evidence that it would play out that way, but the actual game didn't do much to support the notion. He took 11 shots and finished with six assists as he made no attempt to get in the way of the ball movement that's been working so well in recent weeks.
There were six turnovers as well and a few of those shots were of the eye-burning variety, things that are normally accepted as the price of two weeks on the sideline. There were also flashes of how well things can work with Anthony as part of the mix.
The opening of the game looked like a straight continuation of Sunday afternoon as the Knicks jumped out to a 13-3 lead -- including two Melo assists and a nifty pick-and-pop with Lin -- behind sharp passing and transition attacks that were everything we want the Knicks to be this season.
But the Nets took a timeout and things never returned to that level as the Jersey threes started falling and the Knicks offense became a bad shot festival.
Is that Anthony's fault? Certainly didn't seem that way to anyone with eyes.
Lin was taking his shots -- 18 of them -- but he wasn't getting them to fall with anything close to the right frequency because he was forcing attempts in search of foul calls that never came.
Amar'e Stoudemire, whose rebounding is an absurd joke, had 17 shots and, to absolutely no one's surprise, he didn't hit many of them while showing zero explosiveness or consistency on his jump shot.
Steve Novak and J.R. Smith, the heroes from Sunday, were 5-for-18 from the floor. Baron Davis' debut featured one pretty amusing post-shot celebration and several reminders that you don't miss the first 32 games of the season without an impact on your game.
Despite all of that, the game was sitting on a silver platter for the Knicks early in the fourth when they cut a 19-point Net lead to eight and then went cold on four straight trips down court with a chance to feed a frenzied crowd while Williams sat on the bench with five fouls. They hit those shots against Dallas; they didn't fall on Monday night.
Things certainly weren't smooth on offense, but choppiness is to be expected when you're integrating three new players into the rotation. If the Knicks could've defended at all, impossible when Tyson Chandler is in foul trouble stemming from Humphries' ability to get under the skin of every human being he encounters, the offensive side of things still would have been enough to get the job done.
Awful defense, a smoking hot performance by Williams and players missing shots that they made in a stirring comeback against Dallas were the three biggest things to blame for the Knicks' loss on Monday night. It's not as sexy as just blaming Carmelo, but it does have the benefit of being accurate.