Unhappy return for Nets' Deron Williams in loss to Jazz
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SALT LAKE CITY -- His former coach was in the stands, the guy whom many thought Deron Williams ran off into the retirement sunset just weeks before Williams was shipped out of the mountains to the New Jersey swamps.
With Jerry Sloan among the EnergySolutions Arena crowd of 18,008, Williams was back at the place he spent five-plus seasons, looking to slap his old team around and exact a measure of revenge of sorts on those fans who booed him lustily when he returned last season.
But Williams' new team wasn't good enough on this night and certainly didn't do enough to thwart Randy Foye's offensive explosion. The Nets played sloppily for the second straight night, repeatedly turning the ball over and acting as if they indeed were ready for this seven-city, 13-day road excursion to end as they fell to the Jazz, 116-107.
"I haven't won against the Jazz yet," Williams said with a smile. "So I want to get a win. Hopefully, next year is the year."
Williams, who scored 21 points and had 11 assists, was booed virtually every time he touched the ball. There also were occasional cheers mixed in when he hit a shot. Several fans sported his jersey in the stands, showing they still support their former All-Star.
The loudest cheers of the night came when Williams had his fast-break layup emphatically rejected by Gordon Hayward in the second quarter. The building erupted with glee.
"It wasn't as bad as last year," said Williams, who was unaware that Sloan was in the house. "It's getting better. Maybe next year I'll get a few boos, maybe a couple of cheers. It's good, man. I don't have any animosity. I had a great time in Utah. I don't have anything bad to say about the fans. They are going to react the way they want to react and think what they want to think. I can't really change that. But I've just got a lot of love for them."
Saturday night, however, they had little love for Williams and plenty for Foye. He exploded for 15 of his 26 points in the third quarter, swishing 5 of 6 three-pointers to propel the Jazz (38-36) to an 83-74 lead going into the fourth. He seemingly was pulling up from nearby Provo. "Randy Foye just torched us," P.J. Carlesimo said, "and had it going."
The Nets (42-31) sure had it going initially on this trip, winning four of their first five in impressive fashion. But this loss dropped them to 4-3 after floundering for the second straight night. It sent them back home pondering the possibilities as they take a couple of days off before Wednesday's date in Cleveland with the Cavaliers.
"It was good until the last two games, even the Clippers game, where a couple of things went wrong," Williams said. "We were in there and we fought and were there until the end. But these last two games, we're a little disappointed, especially how we played in Portland. It tends to happen in the last couple on a long road trip like this. You wish it wouldn't. You talk about it not happening, but that's what happened."