NEW YORK (AP) — The Utah Jazz fought all night for a chance to win the game, then nearly threw it away.
Utah turned it over on two inbounds passes in the final 31 seconds, having to sweat out a pair of misses on the Brooklyn Nets’ final possession to escape with a 92-90 victory on Tuesday night.
“Just two mistakes. That’s all I can say, just two bad mistakes we made,” center Al Jefferson said. “The game, we still pulled it out, that’s all that matters.”
Mo Williams scored 19 points, and Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who improved to just 5-10 on the road. Derrick Favors added 13 points against his former franchise.
Williams said it was easy to focus on the final half-minute — calling it a learning experience — but noted that the Jazz held the Nets to 33 points in the second half. Brooklyn made only 10 of 32 shots (31 percent) after halftime after shooting 51 percent in the first half.
“Well, we started to guard,” Williams said. “You can make excuses, but I don’t think our legs were there to start the game. I thought that once we got going in the second half and we got a nice talking to by (coach Tyrone Corbin), I thought that motivated us and we came out the second half and we dug down.”
Joe Johnson scored 21 points for the Nets, who led for most of the game and by as many as 13 points before dropping their second straight overall and their fifth in the last six home games.
“When you’re at home, this is where you’re supposed to be the strongest and when you have a lead, I was just hoping man we can blow a team out so we can kind of us, as starters, get a rest for tomorrow,” Johnson said. “It just seems when we’re up 15, 17, it seems like the game is never over because we shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers.”
Brook Lopez finished with 16 points and Deron Williams had 14 for the Nets, who will try to bounce back from this disappointment when they make the short trip to visit the Knicks on Wednesday.
Utah trailed for nearly the entire night before finally going ahead when Mo Williams pulled up for a 3-pointer in transition, making it 82-80 with 5:43 remaining. Favors followed with a basket, and Utah kept either a two- or four-point lead the remainder of the way.
The Jazz didn’t make it easy on themselves at the end.
Leading by four, they threw the ball in from the sideline, but Gordan Hayward’s pass went untouched out of bounds on the other sideline, giving possession back to the Nets. Johnson followed with two free throws with 22 seconds left, and the Jazz then passed it in from the side again after a Nets foul.
Hayward was replaced as the inbounder by DeMarre Carroll, but Carroll’s pass was tipped and taken away from Jefferson, setting off the frantic final possession. Both Jefferson and Mo Williams thought Carroll was trying to get a timeout.
The Nets pushed the ball up and got a potential go-ahead 3-pointer from Gerald Wallace that missed. Reggie Evans’ follow shot was no good and time expired.
“But that’s really not how the game came down to,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “It’s really all about the third quarter. In the third quarter we turned the ball over probably six or seven times. We were awful to start the third quarter and that’s something that we worked on yesterday — and taking care of the basketball. You can’t score unless you get shots at the basket and we didn’t get shots at the basket the third quarter. We had an awful third quarter and that really doomed us.”
Deron Williams created some controversy Monday when he expressed his preference for the offensive system he played in under Jerry Sloan in Utah, saying he hadn’t been as comfortable in Avery Johnson’s system. Johnson wasn’t bothered by the comments, saying he was aware of Williams’ concerns and they frequently discussed ways to address them.
Deron Williams made the first basket of the game on a well-designed play, coming off a screen for a wide-open jumper. Wallace had eight points in the first quarter and Williams added seven, leading the Nets to a 24-20 lead.
The Nets ran off 12 straight points midway through the second quarter, extending a one-point lead to 45-32 on a jumper by Lopez with 5:08 remaining. The Nets led 57-44 at the half when Wallace made a 3-poiner with 1.4 seconds left.
Trailing by nine, the Jazz finally got themselves into the game in the third quarter with a 10-2 run, slicing the Nets’ lead to 69-68 on a basket by Favors. Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in the period, sending the Nets to the fourth with a 74-70 edge.
Marvin Williams had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, and Paul Millsap scored 12 points. Wallace finished with 11 points for the Nets.
NOTES: Deron Williams was the third pick of the 2005 draft by Utah and averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 assists there before his surprising trade to the Nets in February, 2011. Favors was part of that deal. … The Jazz snapped a two-game losing streak.
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