Williams, Powell’s return excites fans


Roger Powell Jr. warms up before the Bulls-Jazz game at Assembly Hall on Friday, Oct. 17, 2008. Erica Magda

By Jeremy Werner

Deron Williams didn’t tally a point until a layup to start the third quarter, but the 13,840 in attendance at the Chicago Bulls-Utah Jazz preseason game didn’t seem to mind. For the Assembly Hall crowd

wearing a mix of Illini orange and Bulls red with a sprinkle of Utah No. 8 jerseys, Friday’s night’s NBA exhibition was a time to celebrate the homecoming of two Illini greats.

Fans cheered to a video salute to Williams, an Olympic gold medalist. They roared almost every time Williams touched the ball. Fans even cheered when former Illini and Chicago Bulls forward Roger Powell committed a foul.


photo DI multimedia


Utah falls to Bulls in alumni homecoming

Click to view a slideshow.

Williams received star treatment in his return to his alma mater as the Utah fell to Chicago 108-105. The Jazz guard had to ignore a barrage of camera flashes on each of his free throw attempts but made all six. Williams finished with 14 points and 6 assists.

“The crowd was great,” Williams said. “It’s fun to be back here in front of the crowd again, the fans, for a game that means something.”

After multiple chants from the crowd demanding that Vinny Del Negro play Powell, the Bulls coach relented subbing the former Illini in with 52.8 seconds in the third quarter. Powell scored four points in seven minutes of action.

Derrick Rose, the Bulls No. 1 draft pick, also received plenty of applause from the Champaign crowd. The 20-year-old point guard, who considered playing at Illinois before choosing Memphis, had 14 points and five assists but was limited to 23 minutes after cramping up in the second half.