Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams had a joyous homecoming to Salt Lake City Wednesday night. Before he was traded to the New Jersey/Brooklyn franchise in 2011, Williams was considered one of the top point guards in the powerful Western Conference. He now calls the East coast his new address and for one night, showcased the same skills that once made him beloved by the Utah Jazz faithful.
Williams scored 19 points and helped Brooklyn fend off a late push by the Jazz for a 105-99 road victory. The Nets won for the first time in Utah since 2008 and helped Williams close out a memorable trip back to his former stomping grounds.
Despite a mixture of cheers and boos from the home crowd, Williams took it all in stride. Most important, he helped Brooklyn start the second half of the season on the right track.
“Maybe in a couple of years I will get all cheers here, you never know,” Williams said afterwards.
He got plenty of support from teammates Joe Johnson and Andre Blatche’, who chipped in with 27 and 25 points, respectively.
Utah led for most of the third quarter before Johnson and Blatche’ keyed a huge 20-4 run that gave the Nets a 75-72 lead as the period came to a close.
They kept it going in the final 12 minutes as Williams kept the Jazz at bay with a pair of jumpers, including a three-pointer, to propel Brooklyn to their fifth win in their last seven contests.
Williams credited the play of Johnson and Blatche’ for stepping up when it mattered the most.
“They were huge,” Williams said. “The way Joe played tonight was great. He and Dray pulled us back in the game when we were down. They are a big reason we got the win tonight.”
Brooklyn’s tough road trip continues with stops at Golden State on Saturday, the Lakers on Sunday and Portland on Wednesday.