Gameday Dish: Nets vs. Jazz

Brooklyn Nets v Dallas MavericksThe 37-36 Utah Jazz have recently surged into the 8th spot in the Western Conference. Tonight they welcome the Brooklyn Nets and PG Deron Williams to The Beehive State.

Williams will surely be greeted with plenty of boos from the boisterous Jazz crowd. The 3X All-Star, who was drafted by Utah with the 3rd overall pick in 2005, will make his second return to Salt Lake City after departing via a turbulent trade on February 23rd, 2011.

At 42-30 Brooklyn occupies the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. With ten games remaining, the Nets have secured a playoff spot for the first time in six seasons.

Tonight’s 48 will be game number 7 of Brooklyn’s grueling 8-game road trip. They are 4-2 after getting annihilated in Denver last night, 109-87.

With starting SG Joe Johnson still out with a quad issue, the Nets starters went a combined 16 of 47 from the field in the loss.

PF Reggie Evans had the best night of any of coach P.J. Carlesimo’s guys, going for 15 points and 16 boards.

Utah Jazz v Cleveland CavaliersThe Jazz played last night in Portland where they came away with just their 11th road victory of the season, 105-95. PG Mo Williams led the way with 28 points, 5 dimes and 5 boards in just 29 minutes. This was Utah’s first win away from home after dropping their previous 9 as visitors.

The Jazz and Nets last battled in Brooklyn on December 18th. The Nets raced out to a 13-point halftime lead, but finished the night on the losing end of a 92-90 count. Al Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, while Joe Johnson led the Nets with 21 points.

The Nets are 11-8 in the second half of back-to-back games this season, and Utah is a sturdy 26-9 at home.

Both teams need a W tonight. Utah is barely clinging to the last playoff spot in the West. And Brooklyn must keep winning in order to secure home court for the first round of the postseason. Currently, the Nets are 2 games ahead of Chicago and 2.5 ahead of Atlanta for the 4th seed in the East.

See who’s got the most gas, drive and determination left in their tank heading down the home stretch when Nets vs. Jazz tips off at 9PM ET on YES.

Czar’s End of Year Awards


Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Mo Williams

Ninth-year, 6-1 All-Star PG Maurice “Mo” Williams has delivered off the bench for the Clippers in the absence of top gun Chris Paul, who’s been sidelined for five straight games with a strained left hamstring. Williams scored 25+ points in his last three consecutive games.

Williams added 26 big ones to the scoreboard during last week’s thrilling 91-89 win over the reigning NBA World Champion Dallas Mavericks. Though his 25-point contribution wasn’t enough to lift L.A. to another W in Friday’s nail-biter against the Timberwolves, Williams sank another 26 points in Sunday’s solid 103-91 victory over the Raptors.

When the Cavaliers acquired Williams from the Bucks in 2008, he started at the point guard position alongside LeBron James. “Mo Gotti” put up some big numbers at the end of Cleveland’s heyday and was integral in helping his teammates achieve a franchise-best, league-leading 66–16 record in 2008–09 and top the standings again in the 2009-10 season with 61 wins.

On February 24, 2011, Williams was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers along with Jamario Williamson in exchange for Baron Davis and a first round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. But Williams had to take a backseat after the arrival of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups in December. Williams loves to play, so I’m sure it’s been a challenge for him to adjust to his new role of backup point guard.

Nevertheless, the veteran reserve is doing his part to help the Clips contend this season. Williams is averaging 14.5 ppg in 27 minutes and boasts a 91.3% shooting percentage from the free throw line. He also pulls down a couple rebounds and dishes out some dimes. It’s hard to say how long Williams’ double digit hot streak will last, but Coach Vinny Del Negro will certainly continue to be cautious about returning Paul to the lineup and will limit his minutes until he’s 100%.

The Clippers play three games this week starting with a crosstown showdown against the Lakers on Wednesday the 25th at 10:30 PM ET.

Fratello Telestrator: Mo Williams’ Big Basket

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