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Ex-Jazz players happy to be with Portland Trail Blazers
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Boise, Idaho • When Mo Williams arrived in Utah via trade a year ago, he knew there was no way he would be able to wear his preferred number. That was No. 25, which he wore in college, in his first stint with the Jazz and with both the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

But with the Jazz, it belonged to leading scorer Al Jefferson.

In Portland, however, where Williams signed as a free agent in August, he found the owner of 25 more willing to negotiate. That's because it was his former Jazz teammate Earl Watson, who signed with the Trail Blazers earlier in the summer. Watson was willing to deal, but had one request.

"He decided in that conversation that he wanted to donate to my travel team," Watson said.

Mo Williams, proud sponsor of Earl Watson Pangos Elite, Watson's AAU team.

"In return," Watson said. "I said he could have No. 25."

Watson, in turn, accepted 17 as his new digits.

Prior to the Jazz's game against the Blazers on Friday at Boise's CenturyLink Arena, both players said they were comfortable with the way their final seasons ended with the Jazz, Watson plagued by nagging injuries and Williams knocked out for more than 30 games with thumb surgery.

"Dealing with everything we dealt with last year," Williams said, "all the free agents, my injury, things like that, I really thought that we stuck together and we fought really hard to put ourselves in a position. It was tough. It was tougher than people think, especially for Ty [Corbin]."

Williams is expected to serve in a sixth man role for the Blazers, while Watson is the No. 3 point guard behind former Weber State star Damian Lillard, the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Williams.

Watson said he is the healthiest he has been in more than two seasons. He spent all of last season recovering from knee surgery, and in the offseason had surgery for a sports hernia that was not diagnosed until after the season.

Watson signed with the Jazz in 2010 and experienced the most dramatic organizational face-lift in team history. Originally Deron Williams' backup, he watched Jerry Sloan resign and Williams be traded to New Jersey. Now, from afar, he watches as the franchise is handed over to young players he once mentored.

"Those guys came into the locker room when I was there," Watson said, "so I kind of became best friends with those guys. Those guys are like my brothers. But sometimes you want to beat your brothers, so when we play, there's no love."

As for whether either player was surprised that the Jazz did not re-sign any of their seven free agents in the summer, they seemed supportive.

"I think the Jazz are in a unique situation," Watson said, "where their core is so good, they had to do that. That's an amazing, young, talented team and the future of that team is really bright."

Said Williams: "Obviously when you don't sign a guy like Big Al back, you let Paul [Millsap] go, shows kind of the direction they're going. But look at the young talent they got; can you blame them?"

Room for rest

Veteran Richard Jefferson did not play Friday against the Trail Blazers but is expected to be in the lineup Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Corbin said the move was to see different lineups, as well as keep Jefferson, 33, from playing in back-to-back games.

Alec Burks started in his place, while Jeremy Evans started at forward and Enes Kanter came off the bench.

Corbin said he may employ a similar strategy Saturday with John Lucas III, giving the 30-year-old point guard an off night after he played Friday in Boise.

"We got so many guys," Corbin said. "I can get some other guys some time on the floor. I know what those guys [Jefferson and Lucas] are doing or what they will do."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @bill_oram Blazers 98, Jazz 86

FG FT Reb

Utah Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts

Burks 18:28 1-5 5-6 0-1 3 2 7

Favors 21:38 2-8 3-3 2-9 1 4 7

Evans 15:40 2-3 0-2 0-0 0 2 4

Burke 25:15 3-10 0-0 0-0 5 2 7

Hayward 25:57 5-11 8-11 0-2 1 1 20

Holiday 14:01 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Kanter 23:13 5-10 1-2 2-6 1 2 11

Cook 6:49 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 3 5

McGuire 10:03 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 2

Lucas III 9:06 1-3 0-0 0-1 2 0 3

Gobert 4:55 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 2 2

Biedrins 14:33 0-0 0-0 0-3 0 1 0

Clark 15:31 0-2 2-3 0-1 2 0 2

Machado 13:39 1-3 1-3 0-2 2 1 3

Hudson 12:00 2-7 0-0 3-4 2 1 5

Harris 6:50 3-7 0-0 1-4 0 2 8

Jones 2:22 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 240:00 29-77 20-30 8-33 22 25 86

Percentages: FG .377, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 8-14, .571 (Harris 2-2, Hayward 2-2, Cook 1-1, Lucas III 1-1, Hudson 1-2, Burke 1-3, Clark 0-1, Holiday 0-1, Machado 0-1). Team Rebounds: 13. Team Turnovers: 16 (17 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Favors, Hudson, McGuire). Turnovers: 16 (Clark 3, Favors 3, Burke 2, Machado 2, Biedrins, Harris, Hayward, Holiday, Kanter, Lucas III). Steals: 10 (Clark 3, Cook, Evans, Favors, Hayward, Hudson, Machado, McGuire). Technical Fouls: None.

FG FT Reb

Portland Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts

Barton 26:46 4-5 0-0 1-4 1 3 8

Aldridge 18:03 8-9 4-6 1-8 2 3 20

Lopez 25:57 1-4 5-6 1-9 0 3 7

Lillard 29:01 8-15 4-4 0-1 5 0 23

Matthws 22:22 3-5 0-0 0-3 2 1 8

M Willms 22:25 4-10 2-2 0-3 7 3 11

Robinsn 20:36 2-5 0-4 1-8 0 4 4

Freeland 19:24 1-5 0-0 2-5 1 3 2

Crabbe 23:51 1-6 0-0 1-3 0 6 2

Claver 16:00 1-5 3-3 1-3 0 0 5

Bost 6:50 1-1 2-2 0-1 0 0 4

Singler 5:09 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Howell 3:36 0-0 0-0 1-1 1 1 0

Totals 240:00 35-72 20-27 9-49 19 27 96

Percentages: FG .486, FT .741. 3-Point Goals: 6-19, .316 (Lillard 3-6, Matthews 2-4, M. Williams 1-4, Barton 0-1, Crabbe 0-1, Freeland 0-1, Claver 0-2). Team Rebounds: 7. Team Turnovers: 23 (18 PTS). Blocked Shots: 10 (Aldridge 2, Barton 2, Freeland 2, Robinson 2, Crabbe, Lopez). Turnovers: 23 (Barton 4, M. Williams 4, Lillard 3, Robinson 3, Aldridge 2, Bost 2, Lopez 2, Matthews 2, Claver). Steals: 5 (Barton, Claver, Crabbe, Matthews, M. Williams). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 2:39 first Defensive three second, 8:45 fourth.

Utah 21 22 21 22 — 86

Portland 24 28 23 21 — 96

Attendance • 6,268

Time • 2:15.

Officials • Bill Kennedy, Matt Boland, Marat Kogut.

Jazz notes • Williams, Watson say they're OK with how their final seasons ended in Utah.
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