Nets-Jazz Preview

The Associated Press

While the Utah Jazz are surging as they push for the playoffs, Deron Williams still is searching for his first victory over his former club.

The Brooklyn Nets guard is 0-3 against the Jazz as he makes his second trip to Salt Lake City as a visitor in Saturday night's matchup.

Utah (37-36) ended a nine-game road slide with Friday's 105-95 victory over Portland. The Jazz closed on a 19-3 run as they pulled even with the Lakers for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, with Utah currently owning the tiebreaker.

"If we lay everything we have on the floor and come up short, we can deal with that," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But we can't hold anything back at this point."

Next up as the Jazz try for their third four-game win streak of the season is a visit by Williams, the franchise's first-round pick in 2005. The point guard led the team to four straight postseason appearances from 2007-10 before being dealt to the Nets on Feb 23, 2011.

Williams has helped guide the Nets to their first playoff berth in six seasons. Brooklyn (42-30) trails first-place New York by 3 1/2 games in the Atlantic Division, but leads Chicago and Atlanta in the race for the East's No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in a first-round playoff series.

Utah fans figure to give Williams a hard time after how he was treated in his first game back in Salt Lake City. He was booed every time he touched the ball and missed 12 of 15 shots and finished with 16 points, five assists and five turnovers in a 107-94 defeat Jan. 14, 2012.

Williams is averaging 15.7 points on 31.3 percent shooting in three meetings against the Jazz.

The most recent one was Dec. 18 in Brooklyn. The Nets blew a 13-point halftime lead in a 92-90 loss as Williams was held to 14 points.

The Jazz currently have another guard named Williams who came up big Friday. Mo Williams scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half while Paul Millsap had 25 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double since March 4.

"Everybody came out focused, especially in the second half. We didn't do a good job in the first but in the second half we came out with a different attitude," Millsap said.

Brooklyn trailed by 17 points at halftime of Friday's 109-87 loss at Denver. Deron Williams had a team-high 19 points for the Nets, who are 4-2 on this eight-game trip.

"We've got a game tomorrow night to win or lose," P.J. Carlesimo said. "So we just got to go into Utah, it's the end of the first portion of the trip. They're on a back-to-back too."

Brook Lopez had a difficult night with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Lopez's 11.0 points per game at Utah marks his lowest road average against a West foe.

The Nets are 11-8 in the second half of back-to-back games, but just 1-3 when it happens in consecutive road contests. The Jazz, who have taken seven of the last eight meetings, are 3-1 at home when they have played on the road the previous day.

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