Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It's been a while since Utah basketball fans had a chance to cheer for a Williams wearing a Jazz jersey.
Twenty months after Deron Williams was traded away, Utah's recently acquired Williamses — Mo and Marvin — gave the announced EnergySolutions Arena crowd of 17,786 multiple chances to experience that particular fuzzy feeling again.
Ten days into his second Utah stint, Mo Williams already appears to have a clear grasp of the offense and leadership of the team as the veteran playmaker. He sparked the Jazz early Friday — similar to Monday's preseason loss — and finished with a game-high 15 points in Utah's 97-81 win over Oklahoma City at EnergySolutions Arena.
It was just a preseason game, but the Jazz are more than happy to welcome Mo back into the fold.
And for him to be Devin Harris' replacement.
"It felt really good," said Williams, who played his rookie season in Utah back in 2003-04 before venturing off to Milwaukee, Cleveland and Los Angeles. "It's the same people that were here when I was here in 2003. "
Williams even formed a quick relationship with Tyrone Corbin during the summer of 2004 when the now-head coach joined Jerry Sloan's staff just prior to the point guard signing a free-agent deal with the Bucks.
"I was coming to a comfortable situation where they already know who I was as a player," said Williams, who came to Utah this offseason as part of a four-team trade.
Corbin has been impressed — but not surprised — how the 29-year-old Williams has quickly established himself as a leader and relentless competitor.
"He talk his way through it, but he compete his way through it with the guys," Corbin said. "And they can follow his effort because he's going to give effort every minute he's on the floor."
Williams is trying to seize this opportunity he has to be the lead man after spending time with the Clippers as Chris Paul's well-traveled understudy.
The 6-foot-1 playmaker, who provides the Jazz with a vocal and emotional presence in practice and on the court, added two assists, two rebounds and two steals in the team's first exhibition win. One of his most impressive plays came in the second half when he took a pass from Gordon Hayward after a steal, stopped and dropped a 3-pointer in transition. The much-needed outside shooter went 2 for 3 from deep.
"I'm in a position now where I'm able to put my entire game on display every day. The last few years I would say I was in a sacrifice role for the better of the team," Williams said. "The team (Clippers) just needed me to go out there and score the basketball, so that's what I did. I'm in a position now where I’m able to run a basketball team and set guys up and look for my scoring."
The other half of this Williams & Williams firm — Marvin — contributed a solid effort that included 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in just under 23 minutes.
The Jazz love what the No. 2 pick of the 2005 draft, traded to Utah from Atlanta in exchange for Harris, brings to the basketball court as well. Marvin Williams is a 6-9 small forward who gives Utah versatility, shooting and a lengthy wing sidekick to go with 6-8 shooting guard Gordon Hayward (13 points, seven rebounds).
"Oh man. True pro, true pro," Corbin said of Marvin Williams. "He's not a big talker. He's a big-time worker, and he comes out and tries to do everything to help you win."
This Williams liked the progress the Jazz made since falling at Golden State, 83-80, on Monday in their preseason opener. Not only is he more comfortable in the second week with just his second NBA team, but he also feels like the team has meshed and worked well together.
"Obviously, our first game is going to be a little crazy. I think we made tremendous strides from our last game offensively and defensively," Williams said. "The guys shared the ball. The guys made some big plays for us and got us the win."
The Jazz were without usual staring power forward Paul Millsap (grandmother's funeral) and Jamaal Tinsley (personal reasons), but six players ended up scoring in double figures and all 15 available guys saw at least nine minutes of action.
Enes Kanter, continuing to play well after losing 51 pounds in the offseason, racked up his second double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Third-year pro Derrick Favors, however, struggled on offense, going 0-for-5 from the field and scoring just one point with four rebounds.
GAME NOTES: The Jazz traveled to Los Angeles after Friday's win for a three-game road trip in Southern California, beginning tonight against the Lakers at Staples Center. After not playing Monday, second-round pick Kevin Murphy saw his first NBA preseason action, scoring two points in 10 minutes. The dunk of the night was a toss-up between Kanter's power reverse slam and an impressive midcourt alley-oop hook-up between Chris Quinn (passer) and Alec Burks (dunker). Rookie Perry Jones scored 14 points to lead Oklahoma City, which only got nine points and 19 minutes from Kevin Durant.
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