Williams was welcomed with a chorus of boos in pregame introductions and, after exchanging fist-bumps with several familiar faces along the scorer's table, fans quickly let him know what kind of night it would be by booing him whenever he touched the ball — the type of treatment usually reserved for enemy villains like Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and another former Jazzman, Carlos Boozer.
After missing his first three shots from the field, he finally hit a shot with two minutes to go in the first quarter. Then on one drive to the basket in the second period, Williams missed the shot and pleaded for a foul call with referee Violet Palmer.
It was that kind of a night.
"Yeah, he was drained early in the game," Nets coach Avery Johnson said.
"They were wearing him down, they were hanging all over him, and our shots just didn't go down. He just missed a few shots, and shots didn't go down that usually do."
After the game, Williams appeared relaxed, relieved and seemed downright friendly. And he was more than willing to size up the prospects for a Jazz franchise that, now guided by head coach Tyrone Corbin, has moved on without him.
"It's working good," he said. "They have a great group in the front court, especially those two young guys (Favors and Enes Kanter) to back them up, and they're dangerous when they're playing like that. They definitely hurt us tonight.
"They have a good all-around team. I think Ty's doing a good job of getting those guys to execute the offense, and they're playing really solid defensively as well. They definitely have a lot of potential. I thought we had a lot of potential as well, we just didn't really click last year. And you could see that in another year, add some more talent, things are coming together for them. Another year under Ty, they look really good right now.
"I definitely knew he would be a good coach once he got the chance, and I wish Ty nothing but the best," Williams said of Corbin. "He's been with me my entire career, was a great assistant while I was here. I only played for him like, four games (after Sloan resigned), and I just wish nothing but the best for him."
Mighty kind words coming from a guy who definitely wasn't treated very kindly in his "homecoming" game Saturday night.
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