A debate raged through the Nets' locker room as Deron Williams' teammates tried to determine whether he indeed had thrown down a dunk for the first time this season.
With about 61/2 minutes remaining in Monday night's 108-95 win over the Suns at Barclays Center, Williams sped down the lane, elevated and extended his right hand, snapping the rim just as he released the ball. He watched it rattle around before it fell through the net.
Determining whether Williams' bucket qualified as his first dunk since May was almost like picking sides in a presidential election.
"You know what? I'm going to give it to him," Mason Plumlee said. "He's gone up about three times now with great courage. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying. This one, it rattled in, so he didn't get the flush, but he got a dunk."
Jason Kidd, however, wasn't so sure his point guard stepped into Blake Griffin territory.
"We are trying to debate if that was a dunk," he said before adding, "I'll have to look back at the tape."
There's no arguing whether Williams was on top of his game. He had 28 points and shot 11-for-13 to propel the Nets (34-31) to their ninth straight home victory.
Williams kept unleashing the lethal crossover that evoked memories of those days when observers debated whether he or Chris Paul was the league's best point guard. He was confident and assertive, getting to the lane when he wanted, pulling up for jumpers with conviction and setting up his teammates.
Williams sparked the Nets on both sides of the ball against the Suns (38-29), helping to put their nightmarish fourth quarter against the Wizards two nights earlier out of their minds.
"This was a big game for us," Williams said. "We knew it was a big game for them. They're fighting for the seventh or eighth seed out there in the West. We needed to bounce back from Washington. We felt like we gave one away and let it slip it away. We wanted to make sure that we got into this one and kept protecting home court."
Williams showed that his chronically injured ankles still have a little lift in them.
After getting stuck on the rim in embarrassing fashion while trying to dunk against the Wizards on Saturday night, he no doubt was looking for a bit of vindication, and he got it -- maybe.
Told of Kidd's comments questioning his throwdown, Williams jokingly fired back.
"Coach is supposed to have your back," Williams said. "I can't do nothing but shake my head. He's supposed to say something like 'I'm proud of him' or 'It's a monumental moment.' He was never a dunker in his day, either."
Joe Johnson credited Williams with a dunk -- just not an overly impressive one.
"It was a dunk, but it wasn't a dunk that you get hyped off of," said Johnson, who scored 19 points. "Once you actually see it, it's kind of like, 'Oh, he dunked it.' "
Did it make up for that brutal attempt in the nation's capital 48 hours earlier?
"I don't know," Johnson said. "That one was pretty bad."