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News » Jazz: Williams, Rose reunited in London

Jazz: Williams, Rose reunited in London

Jazz: Williams, Rose reunited in London London ? As much as he's tried to forget the play in the past 12 months, Deron Williams still must contend with the aching in his left ankle. It's a regular reminder of what happened last preseason against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.

Having missed all of four games in his first three seasons with the Jazz , Williams suffered a gruesome ankle sprain when he went up for a three-pointer and came down on Rose's foot in an Oct. 18 game at United Center.

Williams had to be carried off the court, left the arena on crutches and missed 13 games in all before returning for good. Even then, Williams needed months to get back to playing like his former self after the worst injury of his young career.

Halfway around the world, the Jazz and Bulls are set to meet again in the preseason, bringing together Williams and Rose for Tuesday's game at The O2 arena.

"It was just a regular play," Rose said Sunday. "It wasn't intentional or anything like that. If anything, I want to play against him to make myself better. It hurt when you see a good player like Deron go down like that."

For his part, Williams agreed that Rose wasn't to blame. "You watch it, it doesn't look like he tried to step under on purpose," Williams said. "He just closed out. I came down on his foot."

Williams' ankle proved to be just the start for the Jazz , who struggled through an injury-ravaged season. Rose went on to earn Rookie of the Year honors and starred in a memorable first-round playoff series against Boston.

"He had some great games," Williams said. "That first game [36 points, 11 assists in a 105-103 overtime victory] was unbelievable. Him and [Rajon] Rondo were going at it pretty much the whole series. It was fun to watch."

Williams faced Rose for the first time since the injury in December, with Rose scoring 24 points in a Bulls victory. But Williams was far from 100 percent at the time and ultimately needed two months just to rest his ankle after the season.

"They told me how bad it was," Williams said. "I didn't want to believe it."

Now it's Rose who isn't at full strength. He sat out practice Sunday with an injured right ankle/Achilles tendon that he suffered Friday against Indiana. Rose was hopeful to play Tuesday and made clear the respect he has for Williams.

"Deron, I look up to him," Rose said. "He's one of the bigger guards in the league. I'm kind of a big point guard. So for me to play against him here, it's crazy."

Even with the injury, Williams averaged a career-best 19.4 points and 10.7 assists last season. That included a stretch in which he became the first guard since Michael Jordan to score 30 points or more in five straight games while shooting 50 percent or better.

Williams has come back this season determined to cut down on turnovers -- he averaged 3.4 a game -- and shoot better from three-point range, after dipping to 31.0 percent last season from 39.5 percent in 2007-08.

"Great players usually do something every year to make themselves better," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who listed shooting and defense as two areas for improvement out of Williams. "Just wait and see what that is."

On a team with only one player older than 30 (Mehmet Okur), Williams also pledged to take on a greater leadership role, especially when it comes to pushing the Jazz for more consistent play on the road.

"The position of being a point guard doesn't specifically make you a leader," Sloan said, "but I think he has those qualities."

If everything goes according to plan, Williams also will play in his first All-Star Game in February in his hometown of Dallas. He was part of the record crowd of 105,121 that attended the Cowboys opener last month at their $1.2 billion new stadium.

Williams said the colossal video board was even more spectacular than advertised --"I watched the game on there pretty much and I had great seats. You see everything" -- and couldn't help but think about holding the All-Star Game at the stadium.

"Every season I want to make the All-Star Game -- everybody does," Williams said. "It'll be great to have my first one in Dallas. I feel like this should be my third one at least, but what can you do?"

? To the point

Deron Williams and Derrick Rose will be the featured attraction Tuesday when the Bulls and Jazz play in London. A look at their 2008-09 numbers:

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 6, 2009


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