Brooklyn • Everyone talked about Deron.
By the time the Jazz had beaten D-Will’s Nets 92-90 on Tuesday, the narrative had shifted: Wrong Williams.
Jazz 92, Nets 90
O Mo Williams leads the Jazz with 19 points. His trey in the fourth gives Utah its first lead after halftime.
The day started with a controversy in which Deron Williams, the former Jazz All-Star point guard, had questioned the Brooklyn Nets’ offense and pledged allegiance to that of Jerry Sloan. It ended with Mo Williams, the new Williams in the Utah backcourt, leading the Jazz (14-12) as they erased a 13-point halftime deficit and held on to survive a dramatic finish, requiring two misses by the Nets (13-11) in the final seconds.
Mo Williams led a balanced Jazz effort with 19 points. Four others scored in double figures. But the highlights? Those will be of Mo.
"He lives for the big shot," Al Jefferson said.
On Tuesday, he took two: One, a 3-pointer in transition with 5:42 remaining to give the Jazz their first lead of the second half at 82-80. The other was a different kind of shot: A charge drawn against Deron Williams with 1:51 remaining, when Williams tried to back down his defender and bullied him with an elbow.
"It hurt," Mo Williams said, going on to praise Deron Williams as "by far the most physical point guard in the NBA. I had to do some push-ups before the game."
"Huge," coach Tyrone Corbin said of the offensive foul call. "He stayed in between [Deron Williams] and the basket. ... I thought it was a great play."
Joe Johnson scored 21 points for the Nets, but struggled in the fourth quarter when guarded by DeMarre Carroll. Deron Williams fell to 0-3 in games against the Jazz, who traded him to the then-New Jersey Nets in 2011 as part of a deal that brought back Derrick Favors and draft picks. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half and was held to five assists for a team that has been a disaster since opening the season 11-4.
The Jazz won their fifth road game (they’re 5-10 away from EnergySolutions Arena) with a big third quarter in which they outscored the Nets 26-17 and became the aggressors. They nearly lost it, however, in the final 30 seconds when on back-to-back possessions they botched in-bounds passes, leading to two turnovers.
"Just two mistakes," said Jefferson, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, his 14th double-double in 25 games. "Just two bad mistakes we made."
By NBA standards, the Jazz had the game secured with 31.6 seconds remaining, when they called timeout to in-bound the ball at halfcourt. As the result of what Mo Williams later called a miscommunication between him and Gordon Hayward, Hayward passed the ball across the court and out of bounds.
"I was popping out to get it," Williams said. "He thought I was going to stop at the 3 for a quick shot."
On the Jazz’s next possession, after the Nets cut the score 92-90, Carroll was enlisted to in-bound the ball. Jefferson secured the pass after a scrum at midcourt but was stripped of the ball with less than 10 seconds to play.
However, Gerald Wallace missed a 3-pointer that would have won the game and Reggie Evans’ put-back attempt at the buzzer was also off the mark.
"Luckily they didn’t make the shot, because I would have really been feeling down on myself right now," said Jefferson, who added that he thought he was fouled on the play.
On a night full of reunions — Deron Williams and the Jazz, former Atlanta Hawks teammates Johnson and Marvin Williams — the best may have been Derrick Favors against the Nets.
Favors scored 13 points and recorded three blocks. His offensive display included a reverse dunk that left Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans looking at each other.
"The plays he made on the defensive end," Corbin said, "even the shots that he didn’t block, he was up challenging shots. He was big inside for us."
The Jazz play three more games on this East Coast swing.
"We hope this starts something special," Paul Millsap said.
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