SALT LAKE CITY — As expected, Kyle Korver received a loud and warm ovation from Jazz fans, and Ronnie Brewer was given a respectful response when their Chicago Bulls visited EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday night.
After both players helped clinch the Bulls' 91-86 victory, Utah fans might not be so nice next time.
Korver hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulls an 87-83 lead with 2:17 left in the game. On Utah's final possession with the Jazz trailing by three, Brewer stole a Deron Williams pass and then sank two free throws to seal Chicago's win.
Both Korver and Brewer signed with the Bulls as free agents during the summer. Brewer has been gone from the Jazz longer than Korver, as Utah traded him to Memphis last February.
Both players said they had ill feelings toward the Jazz, but they were more than happy to play key roles in Chicago's victory.
"There is no vindication here," Korver said of his big 3-pointer. "I had a great time here. I had nothing to prove. It was a tough game, a sloppy game, ugly game — all those words — but we'll definitely take the win."
Brewer said the Bulls breaking their two-game losing streak was the key aspect of his return to Utah.
"I think getting the win was the most important thing," Brewer said. "The last two games (losses to Golden State and Portland), we've been right there at the end and we haven't been able to close them out. It's a good feeling to be able to close out the win."
Neither player had a spectacular statistical night. Korver had five points, one rebound and one blocked shot in 18-plus minutes. Brewer didn't make a basket, but scored six points from the free-throw line. He also had six rebounds, an assist and that clutch steal to put the game away.
But never mind the stats. Korver and Brewer's familiarity with the Jazz — and Carlos Boozer's, too — on both ends of the floor paid huge dividends.
"Those guys are great," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of his three former Jazzmen. "This (Utah's) is a great, great system. We actually try to run some of those same concepts. They're very helpful. That's the type of guys that they are. At shootaround, pregame and on the bench you couldn't ask for anything more. That's a byproduct of this (Utah's) organization. Having all three of those guys has been a great asset for us."
The Bulls seemed to know exactly what the Jazz were doing on their final possession, thanks to Korver, Brewer and Boozer.
"(Brewer, Korver and I) had figured they were going to run some of the plays from our years and late in the game when (Williams) drove and kicked it, Ronnie got the steal and sealed the game for us," Boozer said. "We knew it was one of two plays and we picked the right one."
Korver also picked the right time to find his shot. He only got three attempts in Wednesday's game, and calmly drilled a 3 when his team needed him to.
"It was about time I got a shot," Korver said. "They (the Jazz) were sagging in a little bit. I got it up for a shot, and you got to knock that down. That's what you live for right? It was good."
Brewer was thankful to have the opportunity to be on the court in crunch time.
"To me it means more that (Thibodeau) put me in to get the defensive stop and I was able to do it," Brewer said. He had trust in me to go out there and make a play and I did it. It's part of the game, part of playing. It just happened to be against the team I used to play for."
e-mail: [email protected]