Brad Rock: A Williams (or two) helps Utah Jazz form identity, sink Mavericks
SALT LAKE CITY — So that's what the Utah Jazz were missing the past 20 months.
Utah opened its season Wednesday at ESA with a 113-94 win over Dallas. It was pretty much all-Williams, all the time. In the 20 months since Deron Williams was abruptly traded, it was clear how much they missed him. It wasn't just the game, but the name.
One night into the 2012 season, it seems it's all about the Williamses, Mo and Marvin. All they need now is to acquire Derrick Williams (Minnesota), Reggie Williams (Charlotte) and Louis Williams (Philadelphia).
It would certainly make it easier on the broadcast announcers: "Williams passes, rebounds, shoots, scores!"
Three of the seven Williamses on NBA rosters this season have played for the Jazz.
Wednesday, the Jazz's players by that name scored 21 points apiece. Marvin made 7 of 13 shots, including two 3-pointers. Mo made 7-of-16 with a pair of treys, too. With the teams tied at 74 in the third quarter, Mo sank a 3-pointer, stole the ball and made another, then drove to score. Marvin nailed a 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 11.
It was immediately clear that Jazz fans had rolled out the welcome mat, which said, "Welcome Williamses" and "Prince Williams."
The lead climbed to 11, then 16, then 20.
"Mo and I probably have the same mindset – to come out aggressive," Marvin said.
Theme for a Halloween night: "Here lies Dallas, done in by two guys with the same name."
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Deron Williams spent six seasons in Utah, playing brilliantly. But unlike the current pair, he was prickly and abrupt. He usually came off as good-natured as a speed cop.
In any case, he was far from a first. The Jazz franchise has a long history of Williamses. There was Aaron, who spent six games in 1993-94 but didn't thrive until he had moved on. There was Duck, who played 1979-80 with the team, the Jazz's first season in Utah. Freeman, also a guard, was in Utah for 18 games in 1982-83.
Nate Williams, the former Utah State player, was with the old New Orleans Jazz for four seasons.
Informed of the Williams history in Utah, Marvin said, "That puts a lot of pressure on myself and Mo to live up to."
Maybe, but their play on Wednesday was simply to die for.
"They have been super all training camp and it's going to transfer all season long," predicted coach Ty Corbin. "These guys are very proud guys, they are true professionals. They take it personal and they go out there and make sure they try and get stops on defensive end and let the offense generate from there."
The outcome must have been quite a relief for Corbin. He assumed the reins when Jerry Sloan abruptly quit and Deron Williams got traded. Talk about fumbling and stumbling in the dark. But things started improving last season, as the Jazz made the playoffs. Still, everyone knew they were missing something. People said they needed an identity.
Who knew it might be a familiar name?
It has been a good week for Corbin. Jazz management, happy over their team's progress since he took over in the winter of 2011, exercised the option on his contract, valid through 2013-14. Then he saw two of the Jazz's offseason acquisitions blast off.
In the spirit of the season, the Jazz gave out ticket vouchers for the first 500 guests who arrived in Halloween costumes. There was also a pumpkin-carving contest, which gave the whole event a sort of county fair feel.
The costume of the night might have been the two guys who showed up dressed as Jerry Sloan and Frank Layden. The real Sloan sat on the 10th row, behind the Jazz bench.
Even he had to be happy to see a Williams back in town.
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