SALT LAKE CITY — One comeback apparently wasn’t good enough for Deron Williams.
Two was one too many for the Utah Jazz.
The three-time All-Star returned to his old NBA home Wednesday night for the third time as an opponent and, much to the chagrin of Jazz fans, helped the Brooklyn Nets come back from 13 down to win at EnergySolutions Arena.
Final score: Nets 105, Jazz 99, Booing D-Will Detractors 0.
“It has gotten better and better every year,” Williams said.
Williams was talking about his reception, which wasn’t as caustic as it was in his previous two Utah visits but still garnered many boos every time he touched the ball. But the quote works for the performance of the Nets, who won here for the first time in his non-Jazz career while snapping the home team’s three-game winning streak.
“Maybe in a couple of years I will get all cheers,” he added. “You never know.”
Maybe Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan will come out of retirement, too.
Or maybe not.
The Jazz ended up having a lot of “maybe” moments in this game.
Maybe if Derrick Favors, whom Utah received in the D-Will trade with the Nets three years ago, would have played things would have been different. Center Enes Kanter filled in nicely with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the Jazz were outscored 48-40 in the paint.
Maybe if the Jazz hadn’t shot 2 for 11 from 3-point range in the second half after hitting 9 of 24 from beyond the arc in the opening half things would have ended another way.
Maybe if Utah hadn’t allowed Joe Johnson to heat up from outside (4-7) or scored more than 18 points in the pivotal third quarter or not allowed Brooklyn to go on a 20-4 run after taking a 68-55 lead or fallen apart in the final seven minutes, well, that paints the picture pretty well.
“We all think this is a game we could have won,” Jazz point guard Trey Burke said. “We just have to learn from it.”
Williams and teammate Andrei Kirilenko, another blast from the Jazz past, were both happy to provide a learning opportunity for their old team.
That wouldn’t have been possible without a second-half rally, sparked by All-Star guard Johnson (27 points) and center Andray Blatche (25 points).
“My first win at EnergySolutions on the opposite team,” Kirilenko said. “It’s always tough to play against (the) Jazz in this building. But I think we matched the energy.”
In the second half, at least. Utah went up by 12 in the second quarter and owned a 56-48 halftime lead after Marvin Williams sank three free throws with no time left following a Paul Pierce foul on a 3-point attempt.
“In the first half, we came out with a lot of energy,” Kanter said after the Jazz dropped to 1-22 with him in the starting lineup. “In the third quarter, they came out with a lot of energy and we couldn’t answer them.”
The loss, which dropped Utah to 19-34, spoiled another stellar scoring performance off the bench for Alec Burks. The sixth man scored a team-high 23 points with six rebounds.
“They just got real physical,” Burks said. “We had some turnovers and they were able to capitalize on them. They have some great players and they won the game.”
Brooklyn scored 22 points off of the Jazz’s 18 turnovers, which certainly factored into the outcome.
“I thought defensively they were the aggressive team in the second half,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They got their hands on us a little bit and got us out of our offense. We lost our rhythm there. They pushed us out on the floor a little more than we needed to be.”
Williams was on the court in pain on a couple of occasions in this one, including once late in the fourth quarter after getting inadvertently elbowed in the face by Jazz guard Alec Burks.
After writhing on the court in pain, though, Williams remained in the game and hit a big 3-pointer that gave the Nets a comfortable 99-89 lead with 2:11 left.
Williams finished with 19 points and seven assists for the Nets, who trailed 68-55 in the third quarter before turning it on.
“Being on the road against a team that’s playing extremely well, the defense got us back in the game and then our bench was big,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “Everybody chipped in to get this win tonight.”
Everybody remaining, that is.
While the Jazz were down a man in Favors, the Nets didn’t have explosive guard Jason Terry or backup forward Reggie Evans. The pair was traded earlier in the day to Sacramento in exchange for guard Marcus Thornton.
Kidd even hinted that Nets owner Mikahil Prokhorov might try to pull off something else before Thursday’s 1 p.m. trade deadline despite the team having a $100 million roster.
"He’s probably not done," Kidd said. "So we’ll see what happens."
The Jazz haven’t made a deal, but that’s certainly a possibility as the team looks to improve its roster for the future either by adding players or hauling in more draft picks.
For those keeping track at home, this point guard matchup of former and current Jazz point guards was an entertaining one. Williams finished with 19 points and seven assists, while Burke had 14 points and 10 assists in his fourth career double-double.
“They won the game,” Corbin said when asked about that playmaker duel. “They played better.”