Johnson, Blatche lead Nets over Jazz 105-99
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By MATTHEW COLES
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Deron Williams had a big red lump on his right cheek. It didn't keep him from leaving Utah with a big smile for the first time since being traded by the Jazz in 2011.
Williams had 19 points, including a couple of jumpers in Brooklyn's game-clinching run, and Brooklyn beat the Utah Jazz 105-99 Wednesday night for the Nets' first win in Utah since 2008.
"Maybe in a couple of years I will get all cheers here, you never know," said a laughing Williams, who was once regarded as the future of the Jazz. He drew a few boos as he turned villain when his fourth-quarter jump shots quelled the Utah's last-ditch comeback attempts.
"They were huge. The way Joe played tonight was great. He and Dray pulled us back in the game when we were down. They are a big reason we got the win tonight," Williams said.
Johnson made 4 of 7 from beyond the arc and 10 of 16 overall, while handing out six assists.
"The break was good for me," said Johnson, who hadn't scored more than 16 points since Jan. 20 against the New York Knicks. "It's feeling a lot better. I don't have the pain I had when I bend down to go into my shot or make a move."
Williams caught an elbow from Alec Burks in a scramble for a loose ball with 3:28 to play and stayed on the court for more than a minute before getting his bearing during a timeout.
"I thought I broke my jaw. It hurts," Williams said before adding how good the win feels.
His 3-pointer with 2:11 remaining gave the Nets their largest lead of the game. It was a memorable night for Williams, who struggled in his first two post-trade games in Salt Lake City.
Brooklyn snapped a three-game road losing skid and the surging Nets have won five of their last seven contests.
Burks led the Jazz with 23 points and Enes Kanter, starting in place of Derrick Favors (hip), had 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the Jazz wasted a 13-point third-quarter lead and a chance to extend their winning streak to a season-best four games.
The Nets completed their first season sweep of Utah since 2006-07, but it may prove costly just two games into their seven-stop road trip.
Paul Pierce, who had seven points in 27 minutes and didn't play in crunch time, was limping after the first sequence of the second half and called a time out so he could leave the court.
"I have arthritis and turf toe but it'll be all right," Pierce said.
"This is the toughest time of the year because it's always possible to lose a family member. We're around each other more than we are our families. So to lose a brother, it hurts, man. I hate to see Jason and Reggie go," Johnson said.
But just when the Nets looked buried, they found a spark and they rallied together.
The Jazz led 68-55 after Gordon Hayward and Richard Jefferson made back-to-back 3-pointers. Johnson had seven points in a 20-4 run that culminated in Blatche's jumper that gave the Nets a 75-72 lead just before the end of the third quarter.
"The big thing is we were giving up a lot of 3s . that was something we talked about taking away. The guys responded and did that," said Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd, whose team forced the Jazz to miss their final seven attempts from beyond the arc.
In the final period, the Jazz battled back within 89-88, but Williams started the game-deciding run with a jumper and capped it with his big 3-pointer and the Jazz couldn't get within four points the rest of the way.
"They went on that run and we never really recovered. It's a learning process for us," said Trey Burke, who had 14 points and 10 assists.
Favors has been bothered by a sprained right hip he hurt against Detroit on Jan. 17. Though the Jazz outrebounded the Nets 46-33 without Favors, the Nets shots 50 percent and outscored Utah in the paint 48-40. Utah dropped to 0-6 without Favors and just 1-22 when Kanter starts.
NOTES: The Jazz made their first 15 free throws. . The Nets had dropped the last four meetings in Utah by an average of 16.3 points. . Andrei Kirilenko, who played his first 10 seasons in Utah, received warm applause when he checked in. . Jeremy Evans had a career-high 13 rebounds for Utah in just 20 minutes of play.
Updated February 20, 2014