Jazz 107, Nets 94

Deron William received hugs from a 96-year-old usher and his

favorite chocolate cookies from a longtime Utah Jazz fan.

Otherwise, it was a pretty rude homecoming for the former Jazz


Williams, returning to Utah for the first time since a Feb. 23

trade, started 0 of 3, was just 2 of 12 at halftime and finished

with 16 points on 3-of-15 shooting as the Jazz beat the New Jersey

Nets 107-94 on Saturday night.

”It wasn’t a very good one for me, but it was fun to be back in

the building, fun to see my ex-teammates, fun to see (coach Tyrone

Corbin) over there,” Williams said.

He blamed the poor performance not on the mixed reaction he

received, or the boos every time he touched the ball, but on the

energy-draining win over Phoenix on Friday night. He scored 35 in

that game, his best as a Net, but New Jersey trailed by 23 in this


”The one last night took a lot out of us,” said Williams, who

also committed five turnovers to go along with five assists

Saturday. ”We didn’t have our legs. And they looked like a fresh

team. They beat us to loose balls, they were getting offensive

rebounds. They were more energized than we were.”

Al Jefferson scored 20 points, Paul Millsap had 18 and reserve

C.J. Miles added 17 to lead Utah.

Kris Humphries led the Nets with 18 points.

Utah (7-4) led 30-20 after one quarter and 57-40 at halftime.

Unlike other games, the Jazz slammed the door.

A 3-pointer by MarShon Brooks pulled the Nets within 72-62 but

Utah went on a 10-1 run, fueled by Miles and Millsap.

The Jazz dominated in the paint, outscoring New Jersey 64-26,

and held a 23-19 advantage on fast-break points.

”It starts with defense,” said Jefferson, who also had a big

block on Williams. ”When you get turnovers, turnovers lead to fast

breaks and to easy baskets and that gets our confidence up and

opens up everything.”

Miles joked with Williams before the game, but knew the key was

playing him tight.

Devin Harris, Earl Watson and Gordon Hayward had the primary

responsibility, but others helped double Williams every chance they


”We tried to stay on him, tried to take a lot of his options

away on the pick-and-rolls,” Miles said. ”Secondly, I think he

might have been pressing a little bit, coming back here. I can only

imagine how he felt, and people booing every time he touched the

ball didn’t help.”

Williams said he expected a mixed reaction.

”That’s just how people want to react. I can’t control it. It

didn’t bother me, but I wish I just could have played better,” he


He said he also was grateful for the cheers he did hear.

”I definitely had a great time here,” he said. ”It was a

great point in my life. The Jazz organization gave me my first

opportunity in the NBA so I will always be grateful for them.”

Williams led Utah to four playoff berths and the Western

Conference finals in 2007 but was traded just two weeks after a

halftime spat with Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan.

While Sloan insisted his spat with Williams was not the final

straw in his abrupt retirement the next day, many believe Sloan had

grown tired of battling the star guard.

Two weeks after Sloan retired, the Jazz traded Williams to the

Nets, with CEO Greg Miller saying he had a gut feeling he wouldn’t

be able to re-sign him to a long-term deal if he became a free

agent in 2012.

The Nets so far have not done so either.

Signs in the arena were evidence of the mixed emotions Williams

elicits, despite playing in 483 games over six seasons with the

Jazz from 2005 until his trade.

One read ”Thanks for the Favors,” a reference to budding star

Derrick Favors, acquired as part of the deal. Other fans flocked to

have Williams sign autographs after pre-game warmups, and he


”Welcome Back D-Will,” one said.

Another handed him the bag of gourmet cookies and asked him to

share with center Mehmet Okur, who the Jazz traded just before

Christmas because they had too many big men.

When it was over, Jazz President Randy Rigby was all smiles.

”We needed that one,” he said while expressing confidence the

team had made the right trade.

While Williams was polarizing, everyone loved Okur.

”I miss it here,” said Okur, who admitted he was devastated at

first with the trade but knows it is business. ”It was nice to be

here and see all my friends and family. It was fun.”

Okur scored first for New Jersey when he got a friendly bounce

off the rim. He then converted a three-point play to give the Nets

an 8-4 lead, grabbing an offensive rebound over Millsap then

bulling ahead for the score and foul.

Utah then reeled off eight straight, and outscored New Jersey

15-2 in the next 3 minutes to take command.

Saturday’s game came 11 months after a different homecoming,

when Carlos Boozer received expected boos – not Booz! – from Jazz

fans when Chicago beat the Jazz 91-86.

That loss was quickly overshadowed by Sloan’s abrupt


Now the Jazz must move and go back on the road, against a Denver

team that beat them 117-100 in late December.

”It’s just like I said against the Lakers,” Jefferson said.

”We’re a different team than when we played them the first time

and I think we proved it.”

NOTES: Williams and Okur (9 points, 7 rebounds) created the

biggest buzz, but the Nets have three other players with Utah ties:

Guard Sundiata Gaines appeared in 32 games for the Jazz in 2009-10.

Guard DeShawn Stevenson was drafted No. 23 overall by the Jazz in

2001 and appeared in 227 games. And Humphries was taken 14th

overall by Utah in 2004, appearing in 129 games over two seasons

before being traded to Toronto. … New Jersey’s last victory at

EnergySolutions Arena came on November 29, 2008, when Devin Harris

led the Nets with 34 points and six assists in a 105-88 victory.

Harris, acquired in the Williams trade, scored two Saturday but had

six assists. … Jazz backup point guard Watson was listed as

questionable because of a left knee bone bruise but entered late in

the first quarter. He played 20 minutes, with six assists and four