SALT LAKE CITY — Deron Williams finally got a win at EnergySolutions Arena Wednesday night.
Sure he had plenty of wins in his 5½ seasons — 264 regular-season victories — when he played for the Utah Jazz, but it took three years for Williams to enjoy a victory as a Jazz opponent.
“It felt good,’’ Williams said in front of a media throng outside the Nets locker room after the game. “I was 0-2 — it felt good to get one.’’
Williams scored 19 points and passed out seven assists in helping the Nets beat the Jazz at ESA for the first time since 2008.
He also received fewer boos than in the past, with a mixed reaction from the crowd, something he took note of.
“It’s gotten better and better every year,’’ he said with a laugh. “Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll get all cheers.’’
While Joe Johnson (27 points) and Andre Blatche (25 points) were the main cogs in the Nets' 105-99 win, Williams played a key role.
After the Jazz had blown a double-digit first-half lead and fallen behind by six in the fourth quarter, Utah’s Alec Burks cut the Nets’ lead to one at 89-88 with just under five minutes left. But Williams came right back to hit a 20-footer from the top of the key and the Jazz never got any closer.
A 3-pointer by Williams with 2:07 gave the Nets a comfortable 99-89 lead before the Jazz cut the margin in the final minute.
Williams started off firing and put up eight shots in the first, making three. He was matched by Jazz rookie Trey Burke as each player had eight points after the first quarter. Burke ended up with fewer points (14) but had 10 assists, three more than Williams.
The two hadn’t played against each other in the November game in Brooklyn because Burke was injured and Williams said before the game he hadn’t seen Burke play much this year. But he was impressed with the rookie.
“He looked good and played hard tonight,’’ Williams said. “I haven’t had a chance to watch him too much, but he’s a young talented point guard.’’
As for some of the negative reaction he still gets from some Jazz fans, Williams shrugged and said “It is what it is.’’
Ever since he was traded by the Jazz on Feb. 24 three years ago, Williams has been the scapegoat with many Jazz fans for coach Jerry Sloan’s sudden resignation a couple of weeks before that.
While Williams is aware that he gets the blame in regards to Sloan, he has nothing but praise for his former coach, who was watching Wednesday’s game from his usual seat on row 11 behind the Jazz bench. Williams talked about about Sloan’s number-retiring honor last montb.Comment on this story
“He’s one of the best coaches that’s ever coached in this league; definitely deserved to get his name, number, whatever, retired,’’ he said. “Everything he’s done for this organization, it’s going to be hard to top. I learned a lot from him and was blessed to be able to spend my first 5½ years here.’’
Williams did get one ovation on the night after he went down hard after a collision with Burks near mid-court late in the game. After staying on the floor for a couple of minutes, he walked off holding the right side of his face.
“It hurts — elbow to the face,’’ said Williams, who had some swelling under his right eye. “I thought it was broken. I broke my jaw before and it felt about the same at first.’’