SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Although he didn't start in his NBA debut,
Deron Williams had a nearly perfect finish.
Utah's rookie point guard had 18 points and three assists, and
played the entire fourth quarter while the Jazz rallied to beat the
travel-weary Dallas Mavericks 93-82 Wednesday night.
"I just feel comfortable being in those type of situations,"
said Williams, the third overall selection in the 2005 draft.
"I've been in them a lot in college and I don't see why it should
be different now."
The last game Williams played in that counted was the NCAA
championship, when North Carolina beat Williams' Illinois team for
the national title. He made his first NBA shot -- a 3-pointer -- in
the second quarter Wednesday and beat the third-period buzzer with
a 61-foot shot that sparked Utah's comeback.
Williams also had just one turnover.
"He played OK. It was his first game and he knew what he was
doing," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He played in control and
sometimes he got a little confused, but we expect that. I thought
he played pretty well."
Mehmet Okur led the Jazz with 27 points and pulled down eight
rebounds. He scored nine straight during one stretch of the fourth
quarter, converting a three-point play and hitting two 3-pointers --
including one he just threw toward the basket to avoid a shot clock
"It was a lucky one. I'll be honest with you. I saw the shot
clock and just threw the ball up," Okur said of his turnaround,
Dallas was coming off a 111-108, double-overtime win at Phoenix
on Tuesday night and wilted late in the fourth quarter.
"They were more physical. They rebounded stronger and they had
a presence about themselves and we didn't," Dallas coach Avery
Johnson said. "I think we battled. I don't want to make any
excuses and say we ran out of gas or anything like that. This is
Jason Terry led the Mavericks with 21 points, but scored just
two after halftime. Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 and Josh Howard added
11 for Dallas, which grew frustrated toward the end.
Nowitzki was called for a flagrant elbow about a minute after he
thought he was fouled on a missed layup.
"I just was boxing him out and he didn't like it, so he turned
and showed me he didn't like it," said Utah's Matt Harpring, who
went down to the court on the elbow by Nowitzki with 1:20
Harpring made one of the two free throws and the Jazz followed
with a field goal to go up 90-80 with about one minute left.
Keith McLeod started at point guard for Utah and finished with
10 points, but watched the rookie Williams lead the Jazz from the
end of the third to the finish of Utah's first victory over Dallas
since January 2004.
Williams was 7-for-14 in his first game, including three
3-pointers. He saw the clock was about to expire at the end of the
third quarter and put up a shot from about halfway between the
Dallas 3-point line and midcourt and banked it in at the buzzer.
"Everyone needs a little luck in their life," Williams said.
With Dallas up 75-73 in the fourth quarter, Williams beat the
shot clock on a 3-pointer with Keith Van Horn in his face to give
the Jazz the lead. Williams went inside on Utah's next possession,
driving the lane and getting an underhanded layup around Nowitzki
to put Utah up 78-75.
"He played under control. He hit some big shots, but we'll see
him again," Terry said.
Doug Christie got Dallas to 81-80 with 4:20 left, but Okur
answered with an open 3-pointer, then his desperation 3 -- a shot
that even he had to laugh at as he ran back toward the Jazz bench.
Okur was turning around and backing up when he threw up the shot
that went in and put Utah up 87-80.
Greg Ostertag returned to Utah, where he spent his first
nine NBA seasons, after a year in Sacramento and had five blocks
for Utah. He also knocked out the shot clock for a few minutes with
a two-handed dunk in the third quarter. ... Devin Harris put the
Mavs up 25-19 on a layup in the final second of the first quarter
as Dallas ended the period with a 14-0 run. ... The Jazz went
without a field goal from 4:25 remaining in the first quarter until
Harpring's jumper with 8:51 left in the second.