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News » Jazz win fans, lose to Bulls in London


Jazz win fans, lose to Bulls in London


Jazz win fans, lose to Bulls in London London ? Time will tell if they won converts one Deron Williams jersey at a time during their stay in England, but the Jazz couldn't come away with a win Tuesday night in their first game on European soil.

The Jazz and Bulls delivered a fantastic finish to the sellout crowd of 18,689 at The O2 arena, with rookie James Johnson collecting a rebound and hitting a 16-footer at the buzzer to give Chicago a 102-101 preseason victory.

Although they likely would have won had they grabbed either of two rebounds in the final 8 seconds, the Jazz hardly left disappointed on a night in which the order of business was the global growth of the game.

"That was the goal, I think, to get the Jazz out there," Williams said. "I think a lot of people outside of the U.S. didn't know about the Jazz and it was good for us to come here and get this experience and get people aware of us in other countries."

"It was, for me, a lot of fun seeing the impact of what Basketball means around the world," Jazz president Randy Rigby added. "To see that in London, England, you'd have a packed house to come out and enjoy NBA Basketball, and I think they had a pretty good show, too."

Even with the NBA bringing teams to London in the preseason for the third consecutive year, the crowd's response was extraordinary.

They cheered from the opening seconds as Ronnie Brewer stole a Joakim Noah pass and went the other way for a dunk. Everything from three-pointers to blocks to rebounds to made free throws drew loud cheers at one point or another.

Only a defensive three seconds violation in the second quarter was met by silence. The entertainment during timeouts drew just as enthusiastic a response, between the Jazz dancers, stunt team and a three-point shootout.

"The nice thing about it, they seemed to have fun," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. Paul Millsap, who scored a team-high 18 points, even coined a term -- "Worldwide Jazz " -- afterward, adding, "We're trying to extend it out there."

The Jazz left immediately after the game for Spain, where they will play Real Madrid on Thursday before returning home.

On the court, the Jazz's biggest revelation was Wesley Matthews, a rookie guard and training camp invitee from Marquette who might be just as anonymous in Salt Lake City as he was in London.

Matthews took advantage of his chance to start, scoring 16 points with three three-pointers.

That included an 11-point third quarter in which he came up with a steal, got open underneath for Williams, drove for a layup and connected twice from long distance.

"When you've got an all-league point guard passing you the ball, you feel like it's your responsibility to make the shot," Matthews said. "He's doing the tough job. I was just spotting up."

With the Jazz losing C.J. Miles to start the season to thumb surgery, Matthews will have every opportunity to prove he belongs on the opening night roster. The Jazz , for now, are down to just 11 healthy players under contract.

"I started to realize I might have to step up more, the shot might be coming a little sooner," Matthews said.

Matthews averaged a modest 6.2 points and shot 34.8 percent in five games with the Jazz's summer-league team in Orlando, Fla., but nevertheless impressed Sloan with his play in practice.

"I think he has a great body for Basketball," Sloan said. "Just trying to figure out what he's doing, what we're trying to accomplish and all that stuff will take him a little time. But I like some of the things he's done."

Added Williams: "I was really impressed with Wes before we even started preseason. I felt like he could be a guy that could stick around on this team."

Matthews called it a dream just to be starting a game in London against the Bulls, but added: "At the same time, that's not what I'm content with. I want to get better, get better, get better and hopefully I've got a good shot to make a team."

Neither the Jazz nor the Bulls opted to bring back their starters in the final minutes, including Luol Deng, who plays for Great Britain's national team and scored 18 points for Chicago in just 25 minutes, including a series of jumpers in the second quarter.

The Jazz led 101-100 with 25.4 seconds remaining after two Ronnie Price free throws, but the Bulls captured the victory. Derrick Byars missed a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left, but the long rebound went to Johnson, who let fly from the left side at the buzzer.

For a crowd that cheered for both teams and bought its share of 25? T-shirts and 35? replica jerseys, the ending couldn't have been scripted any better.

"I know there's definitely some fans out there," Williams said. "Maybe not as many as in the States, but the game of Basketball's definitely coming around."

rsiler@sltrib.com Storylines

In short ? The Jazz fall to the Bulls in London on rookie James Johnson's buzzer-beating 16-footer off an offensive rebound.

Key moment ? Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews combine for 23 points in the third quarter as the Jazz start their second-half rally.

Key stat ? Matthews went 0-for-6 from three-point range in five games with the summer-league Jazz but was 3-for-4 Tuesday.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 8, 2009

 

 
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