Utah Jazz: Weird loss as Gordon Hayward's shot goes missing, Trey Burke debuts
NEW ORLEANS — Sometimes, NBA games are just flat-out weird.
And, no, that wasn’t a reference to last Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans when the Utah Jazz actually won for the only time in the 2013-14 season.
A week later, the rematch was simply an odd game with an oh-so-usual result.
Avenging their setback in Utah, the Pelicans (5-6) became the latest NBA team to earn a victory against the Jazz with a 105-98 win at New Orleans Arena.
“It was a loss, which was unfortunate,” Jazz rookie point guard Trey Burke said. “We hate losing, so we’re going to just look forward to coming out against Dallas and try to get a win (on Friday).”
Yes, that quote was indeed from the guy who now wears No. 3 in a Jazz uniform, which was a good weird.
Burke made his NBA debut after sitting out nearly six weeks with a broken finger, and he looked good doing so. The 6-foot-1 point guard, whom the Jazz traded for on Draft Night in June, was only allowed to play 12 minutes in his first game back but still scored 11 points with one assist, one rebound and zero turnovers.
“I thought he did great. I thought he looked in tune and ready to get the ball in his hands,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Unfortunately, we were restricted with the minutes for him and had to take him out. But he felt good, he looked good, so I’m happy for him.”
Now, about that other weirdness.
Nobody’s night was more bizarre than the historically weird game Gordon Hayward had.
The good: Hayward dished out a career-high 11 assists, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.
The bad: The Jazz’s leading scorer only had six points.
The ugly: The shooting guard had the worst shooting night in franchise history, going 1 for 17 from the field and 0 for 8 from 3-point range. Karl Malone had the previous worst night with a 1 for 16 game during his Hall of Fame career, and Thurl Bailey once went 2 for 20.
“For whatever reason, they just didn’t fall tonight. It’s pretty frustrating,” Hayward said. “If I would’ve hit two or three more shots, we probably would’ve won the game. But I missed 16 of them. It’s, whatever, I’ve got to move on.”
Meanwhile, the Pelicans had a couple of guys who seemingly couldn’t miss. 2012 No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis (9 of 12 shots, 22 points) and sharpshooting reserve Ryan Anderson (6 of 9, 19 points). They helped push New Orleans’ lead to 14 points during a quick 14-2 outburst, which ended with back-to-back Anderson treys.
In that spurt, the Pelicans took advantage of a couple of Alec Burks turnovers. In typical Jazz fashion this season, a close game became a blowout defeat.
“Those are mistakes we can’t afford to make, especially on the road,” said Corbin, whose team has lost all seven away games. “Young or whatever, those are mistakes that cost you the game.”
Perhaps the oddest part of Burke’s debut was how it seemed to spark John Lucas III, who’s struggled mightily in his absence. But Lucas, who started at point guard, had his best game with the Jazz in the rookie’s return, hitting his first four 3-point attempts and finishing with a season-high 14 points.
“It feels good. Every time I shoot I feel like my shot is going in,” said Lucas, who’d only hit 24.3 percent from 3-point range before this 4 for 5 performance. “When I was missing, I wasn’t going to back away and not shoot again, because I’m a shooter. To me I feel like it’s the ball, it’s not my shot. That’s my mentality. Luckily, my shots were going in.”
That’s how most players on the Jazz felt. Center Enes Kanter had a team-high 19 points, Richard Jefferson and Derrick Favors each scored 13, and Utah hit 36 of 66 field goals, not counting Hayward’s attempts.
Even Jeremy Evans, also making his season debut, had an excellent shooting night. The athletic 6-9 forward hit his first shot, a long jumper, and made all four field goals for eight points after missing the first dozen games with a rotator cuff injury.
The strange part about that was how Evans claimed before the game that he might dunk a couple of times but felt like his shooting touch wasn’t quite there yet.
“It felt great,” Evans said, “just going out, playing with the guys and bringing some energy.”
Evans, who said his shoulder felt “great” after the game,” was among the Jazz team members to try to lift up Hayward on this weird night, too.
“I think he’s a great shooter and he knows it,” Evans said of his buddy. “Like I told him, ‘I don’t like to see you like this, shoot the next one. Keep going.’ ”
Added Corbin: “If we get him to score his regular amount (19.2 ppg), we’re in good shape, but he missed some shots tonight. We’ll love him, give him some love tomorrow and get back and be ready to go again on Friday.”
Burke said his finger was a bit sore and he got a little winded in his first short stint, but he's anxious for his second performance in Dallas.
Unlike his summer showing in Orlando, Burke looked smooth, comfortable and confident in his short stints. His first bucket was a sweet drive to the left, when he attacked the basket almost as if to let the NBA know he’s here after a long road from Michigan. He said it reminded him of being an 18-year-old freshman when he got his number called for the first time Wednesday.
“Just going to that scorer’s table, it was like, ‘Wow! I’m really here. This is my debut,’ ” Burke said. “It was definitely excitement.”
NOTES: Corbin said Andris Biedrins (sprained ankle) and Brandon Rush (knee rehab) are both getting closer to returning to action as well. Biedrins hasn't played since injuring himself two days before the season started, while Rush appeared for 10 minutes against Brooklyn but has been trying to get himself physically and mentally ready since then. Jazz forward Marvin Williams was fitted for a specialized mask to wear Tuesday in Utah, and he'll undergo surgery to reset his broken nose Thursday. Williams is expected to rejoin the Jazz in time for Friday's game in Dallas.
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