Utah Jazz: Positives outweighed negatives in rookie Trey Burke's first pro victory with Jazz
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — If the Utah Jazz had played the Chicago Bulls last week instead of Monday, Trey Burke probably wouldn’t have been able to help them earn their second win of the season.
The Jazz staff wanted to bring Burke back gradually after his finger surgery, so his minutes were restricted when he first returned. He was only allowed to play 12 minutes in his NBA debut last Wednesday in New Orleans and then played about 20 minutes in road losses at Dallas and Oklahoma City.
The rookie point guard was allowed to play for 34 minutes and 13 seconds in Utah’s 89-83 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls.
“I feel good,” Burke said after winning in front of his home fans for the first time. “I was a little surprised due to the injury restrictions but coach (Tyrone Corbin) trusted me to go out there and help the team win.”
Burke missed 12 of 17 shots and made five turnovers, but the positives outweighed the negatives in his longest pro outing. The 21-year-old scored 14 points, hit a key 3-pointer in overtime and tossed an assist to Richard Jefferson for the game-clinching dunk with 14 seconds left in OT.
Burke and the Jazz have a few days to recuperate from — and savor — the Jazz’s first overtime contest of the season. Utah took Tuesday off and will hold practices Wednesday morning and on Thanksgiving Day before returning to action Friday when Jeff Hornacek brings his Phoenix Suns to town for a Black Friday matchup.
That practice time will come in handy, especially considering Burke has only been able to work out at full speed with the Jazz for a week. Wednesday’s session will only be his third practice session with Utah since he fractured his right index finger Oct. 12.
Burke and the Jazz, now 2-14, need all the non-game time together they can get to work out kinks in an offensive system that continues to be clunky in execution.
“He’s got to learn going through the process. I think this is a great learning experience for him,” Corbin said. “We will watch this (game film) and talk about it. We are trying to talk him through some situations, but he’s got to go through it.”
Through four games, the 2013 NCAA player of the year is averaging 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. But Burke’s shooting percentages (33.3 percent overall and 23.1 percent from 3-point range), occasionally high-turnover rate and tendency to wander into no-man’s land leave room for improvement.
“We can’t turn the ball over, can’t get late in the shot clock and get in the crowd and get stuck with the ball,” Corbin said. “But he made a big shot for us, so that’s the great thing. He came up and hit a big 3 and gave us a little cushion there.”
Burke, the ninth pick of the June draft who was acquired via a trade, impressed teammates with his willingness to try and make plays even while his shot was mostly off.
“We watched the young guy when he was in college, and he did some of those things for his team in Michigan,” Jazz forward Marvin Williams said. “And for him to come to the court (Monday), and play in a huge game like this, and get the most amount of minutes he has ever played as a pro and come out and perform the way he did was huge for us.”
WELCOME BACK, CARLOS: Former Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer almost gave Utah a nightmare ending Monday, but his last-second putback attempt missed. Still, the man who led the Jazz to the 2007 Western Conference finals finished with game highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago.
Boozer also got a smattering of customary boos upon his return to ESA.
“A lot of good memories in this building,” he said. “Not too many familiar faces over there (on the Jazz bench), but a lot of good memories.”
None of the current Jazz players were on the roster when Boozer played in Utah from 2004-10. Corbin was an assistant for Jerry Sloan, now a senior basketball adviser, and the training staff remains the same, but that’s it. Everyone else is new.
Boozer seemed impressed.
“They played very hard, very athletic group of guys. Well-coached,” he said. “I know Jerry is in the mix somewhere. A lot of young talent as they get healthy. They play hard, especially in this building.”
CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION: The Jazz begin their annual “Season of Giving” Wednesday. Over the next four weeks, team personnel will provide a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless and needy, make hospital trips, visit to Hill Air Force Base, host a charity auction, participate in Bear Hugs for Kids Christmas shopping, help assemble 40,000 meals for a Philippines relief event, hold a Guns and Hoses Charity game, do a radiothon for The Road Home, and provide a free Christmas sing-along at EnergySolutions Arena on Dec. 16.
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