SALT LAKE CITY — Media availability for the Utah Jazz ended about an hour before the big NBA news du jour broke Thursday morning.
Not surprisingly, it didn't take long for word to leak into Jazz practice that the Brooklyn Nets had fired coach Avery Johnson.
Johnson became Deron Williams' second coach in two years to have a midseason exit. Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan resigned almost two years ago from the Jazz after experiencing rough times with Williams.
"Avery Johnson is a good coach tweeps," Jazz point guard Mo Williams wrote on his Twitter account Thursday afternoon after practice. "That caught everybody by surprise. We was like wooooooow!!!!! in practice."
Jazz big man Derrick Favors played for Johnson during the first half of his rookie season back in 2010-11 before being traded to Utah as part of the D-Will deal. Judging his reaction on Twitter, Favors was also caught off guard. The Nets have struggled lately, but Johnson was named the NBA coach of the month for November.
"Wow!!!" Favors wrote. "Avery (is) a good coach. He'll bounce back quick."
Williams also tweeted out something that was on a lot of people's minds: "Will Phil Jackson go to Brooklyn??????"
Speaking of the injured Williams and Johnson, Jazz fan @seanp33 wondered if there might be an opening on Utah's roster.
"Maybe the jazz could sign Avery Johnson as a backup pg?" he wrote.
He was kidding, but it would be like having a coach on the floor — or an ex-coach, at least.
When 7-foot-4 Mark Eaton walks into a room, everybody notices. When the former Jazz center walks into the practice facility carrying basketball shoes, well, that's pretty noticeable, too.
Such was the case Thursday morning when Eaton showed up when reporters were about to exit.
Eaton, now a motivational speaker, explained that he was there to give pointers to Jazz center Enes Kanter after practice and that he liked to help out when he can.
The Jazz lost a tough 105-104 game to the Clippers at home earlier this month, and Los Angeles hasn't stopped rolling since then. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin & Co. stretched their win streak to 15 games and own an NBA-leading 23-6 record after their 106-77 home win against Boston late Thursday night.
"It's going to be a challenge. They've beat a lot of good teams in this run of 14 in a row," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They're going to come in here after the close win they had before thinking they can win on our floor."
"They're rolling," Jamaal Tinsley said. But the point guard added, "Anybody can be beaten at any time."
And this from Jazz center Al Jefferson: "They (are) just in a good groove right now. Hopefully, we can find that groove sooner or later."
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