Deron Williams was back in Salt Lake City.
Andrei Kirilenko, too.
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R Deron Williams scores 19 points and hands out seven assists, helping the Nets beat the Jazz in Utah for the first time since he was traded out of Utah three years ago.
» The Jazz hold a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but the Nets use an 18-4 run to take the lead by the end of the period.
» Utah’s Jeremy Evans posts a career-high 13 rebounds.
But instead of focusing their hospitality on the two former franchise cornerstones, the Utah Jazz seemed to roll out the red carpet Wednesday for Brooklyn’s Andray Blatche, making sure the Nets big man had no troubles getting to the rim, as the Nets beat the Jazz 105-99 at EnergySolutions Arena.
Without Derrick Favors for the fifth time in the last 11 games because of a lingering hip injury, the Jazz’s interior defense struggled at times, and Blatche tied his season-high with 25 points.
"We miss him a lot," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said of Favors. "The guys that we have in there, we have to do a better job. We try to keep our big back to protect the rim and we got out of position a few times."
Starting in place of Favors, center Enes Kanter put together a fine game, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds - his 11th double-double of the season. But Kanter’s defense was lackluster.
"We want to make sure he understands the reason we’re keeping him back is to help us control the paint," Corbin said. "As well as he’s playing on the offensive end, we need that same kind of energy and focus on the defensive end."
After the game, Kanter acknowledged there are improvements to be made and said the Jazz missed Favors presence as the Nets outscored them 48-38 in the paint.
"Derrick is a rim protector, a defender," he said. "We really needed him tonight."
Things started well for the Jazz, who held a 56-48 lead over the veteran Nets at halftime. In the third quarter, the Jazz pushed that lead to 13. Then Brooklyn made its run, using an 18-4 push, capped by a Blatche slam dunk, to take the lead by the end of the third.
The Jazz’s interior defense was certainly not its only problem, as All-Star Joe Johnson scored a game-high 27 points in the victory.
The Jazz got solid play from rookie Trey Burke who scored 14 points (and perhaps more importantly after a series of poor shooting nights, shot 50 percent from the floor) and dished out 10 assists.
Forward Jeremy Evans grabbed a career-high 13 boards. Alec Burks, the Jazz’s best scorer in recent weeks, scored a team-high 23 points.
Williams, for whom Favors was traded three years ago this month, was booed at times in his return to Utah. The point guard handed out seven assists and scored 19 points, including a dagger 3 late in the game, to help beat the Jazz at EnergySolutions for the first time since he was traded.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak, Utah’s longest of the season, and dropped the Jazz to 19-34 on the year. The Jazz now head to Portland for a Friday night matchup with Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers.
The team is hopeful Favors will be ready to play by then. But Corbin said he intends to be cautious with Favors’ right hip strain: "We just want to make sure he’s ready to go when he gets back so we can get past this hurdle."
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