Deron Williams against Kemba Walker (left) and Boris Diaw. (RICK HAVNER / AP)

With the New Jersey Nets promised a day off by Coach Avery Johnson in exchange for a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, Williams scored 57 points — 40 in the second half — on 16-of-29 shooting from the field and 21-of-21 shooting from the free-throw line. All of that came in 38 minutes of play and the Nets got past the Bobcats 104-101.

“Coach said we'd be off if we won,” Williams said. “I had an 11:39 tee time.”

It worked, just as getting revenge on Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks worked last month. For Williams, the effort was a Nets franchise record and the first 50-point performance in the NBA this season. But it did come against Michael Jordan’s woeful Bobcats, who are 4-31 and in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Maybe Williams was reminding them that he could be playing in Charlotte had things gone differently in 2005. Or maybe Williams, a free agent after the season, was looking ahead. Less than a week ago, when the Nets played the Mavericks in Dallas, Williams was peppered with questions about whether he might play in his hometown. Williams, traded from Utah to New Jersey in February 2011, has said he’s just “trying to play out the season and look at my options.”

Whatever his motivation or the opponent’s shortcomings, the performance awed Williams’s teammates.

“That was like incredible, man. You know what I’m saying?” Anthony Morrow said. “I was speechless. Just glad to be a part of history. ... It’s just great to have that kind of superstar on your team, future Hall of Famer.”

DeShawn Stevenson has a frame of reference from his days with the Washington Wizards. “I saw T-Mac [Tracy McGrady] do 60-something in Orlando against the Wizards, saw Gilbert [Arenas] give somebody 60 in LA,” he said. “This is up there. I’d say top three ever in my life.

“I think he’s very underrated. I know we’re on a bad [12-26] team and stuff like that, but for a person to pull something off like that, that’s crazy.”

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