Utah Jazz notebook: Deron Williams shined during last week's four-game road trip
SALT LAKE CITY — It isn't uncommon for Jerry Sloan to get asked to compare Deron Williams with John Stockton.
And when asked that question, the Jazz coach offers a response similar to the one he gave before Saturday's Utah-Charlotte game.
"They're completely different and I don't try to compare the two of them," Sloan said. "They're both different kind of players. They've both been great players."
This much is clear: The more Williams plays, the more he belongs in the same conversation with the Jazz's Hall of Fame point guard.
Sloan even described Williams' play in the Jazz's first four comeback wins in the past week as being "right at the top of some of the games he's had."
Consider Williams' late-game heroics and playmaking against the Bobcats the cherry on top of that compliment.
The sixth-year star's smooth-looking floater proved to be the game-winner with 0.8 seconds left. Moments before that, he forced Charlotte into a turnover to get the Jazz the ball back for one last shot and he assisted Al Jefferson for a layup that brought Utah to within one with 45 seconds remaining.
D-Will's will to win and execution down the stretch more than made up for an off-shooting night (5-for-15).
"He's been sensational," Sloan said. "You've seen all of the games. He's put us in those positions, making tough plays and pushing the ball up the floor."
Sloan credited Williams' assist on Paul Millsap's inside bucket that came in the Jazz's final push, when they overcame Charlotte's 91-85 lead with a six-point run.
"Then he made the big play at the end," Sloan added. "That's what makes him a great player."
Williams ended with 17 points Saturday, snapping a six-game stretch of 20-plus scoring nights for him.
During Utah's five-game comeback streak, Williams averaged 24.4 points, 10.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and unquantifiable amounts of determination. Through 10 games, Williams is averaging career-highs in scoring (21.3 ppg) and rebounding (4.7 rpg). He's also pushed his assists average in double-digit range to 10.1 apg.
"He's played extremely well," Sloan said before the Bobcats' game.
Especially when it mattered most. It helps to have a guy, who in Charlotte coach Larry Brown's words, "can beat you off the dribble and get anybody a shot."
Added Brown after watching his team's 19-point lead turn into a loss: "They did a great job executing. You have to give them credit. (Williams) made a helluva shot. Jack (Stephen Jackson) guarded him as well as he could, as well as anybody could."
HOME, SWEET HOME? The Jazz don't have much time to rest up from their four-games-in-five-nights East Coast adventure that resulted in crazy win after crazy win and a 4-0 trip.
The 7-3 Comeback Crew entertains an Oklahoma City squad tonight at EnergySolutions Arena that Williams suspects might remember a 120-99 whooping Utah put on the Thunder in OKC on Halloween night.
"It's going to be a tough game," Williams said after Saturday's victory in Charlotte. "I know they're thinking about the last game we played there, so we have to let this one go, get some rest (Sunday) and come back on Monday."
Tonight's contest does open up a home-friendly stretch for the Jazz, who play 12 of their next 14 games at ESA.
"It feels good," Williams said of the latest comeback win. "But now we've got some tough ones coming up at home. We can't just let our guard down."
BENCH BOOST: C.J. Miles (14 points) was the only reserve to hit double figures Saturday, but the subs were credited for their spark.
Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, Miles, Francisco Elson and Kyrylo Fesenko began the final period, giving starters a needed rest and helping trim Charlotte's lead from 10 to seven. The refreshed main cogs returned at the 7:34 mark and finished off the W.
Utah's backups had more points (27-12), rebounds (15-4) and assists (7-3) than Charlotte's.
"Those guys came in and gave us some great minutes," Williams said. "They gave us some confidence. They gave us a lift we needed to get it going."
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