Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) – Deron Williams was met with a mix of boos and cheers in his return to play the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
“I expected it,” he said.
And there was nothing friendly about the way the basket treated him, either.
Williams scored 16 points, but shot just 3-of-15 from the floor, and the Jazz beat his New Jersey Nets, 107-94, to win for the sixth time in their last seven games.
Al Jefferson had 20 points to lead Utah, Paul Millsap scored 18 and C.J. Miles contributed 17 points off the bench.
“It was an emotional game for everyone,” Millsap said, “but I’m glad we got the win.”
Kris Humphries had a double-double for New Jersey, scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds, but the Nets fell behind by as many as 23 and lost for the 14th time in their last 18 trips to Utah.
Some of those losses came against teams led by Williams, who played his first five-plus NBA seasons for the Jazz but was dealt to the Nets last February under acrimonious circumstances when his relationship with head coach Jerry Sloan crumbled.
Utah also lost Sloan, who retired two weeks earlier.
Frustrated by Utah, Williams made just two of his 12 shots in the first half as the Nets fell behind 30-20 at the first buzzer and 57-40 heading into the break.
“It wasn’t a very good one for me,” said Williams. “It was fun to be back in the building and fun to see all my ex-teammates. … We just didn’t have any legs. They looked like a fresh team. They were beating us to loose balls, getting offensive rebounds. They just looked a lot more energized than we did.”
Jefferson scored 16 of his 20 points in the first two quarters and played only six more minutes the rest of the game.
That’s because the Nets never got closer than 10. After MarShon Brooks’ three- pointer pulled them within 72-62, Josh Howard followed with a jumper to spark a 13-3 run that all but put the game away.
Utah carried an 87-67 lead into the fourth and led by as many as 23 when Enes Kanter’s layup made it 94-71.