Utah Jazz: Alec Burks lifts Jazz past Sixers in final game before the All-Star break
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — With the spectacular way he's played the past couple of days, it appears that Alec Burks could very well be headed for the annual NBA All-Star game himself someday.
For the second straight night, the third-year shooting guard put on a superb fourth-quarter show to propel the Utah Jazz to victory.
Indeed, when the Philadelphia 76ers rallied from a 14-point deficit in the final period to tie the score at 91-all with 2:10 remaining, it looked like an embarrassing collapse was very much in the making for Utah.
But just when things started to get grim, the 6-foot-6 Burks hoisted the Jazz on his shoulders and scored the game's next nine points over a critical 1:48 stretch to give the Jazz a 100-91 lead, and late free throws by Marvin Williams and Gordon Hayward preserved Utah's 105-100 victory Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Burks wound up with a game-high 26 points, 15 of them coming in the fourth quarter alone. That one-man, game-changing run of his came on the heels of a similar 13-point outburst in the final period of Tuesday night's road win against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Alec, I thought, did a great job of closing the game out for us and attacking the basket," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It's been great to be able to put the ball in his hands and get him to make plays for us, especially down the stretch in close games.
"He's a confident guy, and we need him to be that way because we want him to attack. The way he can mix his jump shots and getting on top of the basket, he's not afraid to get in there and get contact and finish, getting to the foul line and making plays.
"He's made some tremendous strides this year and we look forward to him continuing that," Corbin said.
"I was just being aggressive," Burks said. "Playing the game I play and trying to get to the rim."
Hayward had a rough 3-of-17 shooting night from the field, but thanks to his 11-of-12 foul shooting he finished with 17 points and had another stat sheet-filling effort with — shades of former Jazzman Andrei Kirilenko — seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.
Marvin Williams added 13 points and, with starting center Derrick Favors exiting Wednesday's game with a strained hip in the first quarter, Williams picked up the slack on the boards with a game-high 14 rebounds.
"He's been that guy for us all year," Corbin said. "Whatever you need from him to help us win, man, he's willing to do it. And he understands the moments when we need him to step up, if it's scoring or getting a defensive stop, or tonight getting rebounds and communication. He's been tremendous for us all year."
Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans and Richard Jefferson each turned in solid performances of their own in a victory that gave the Jazz (19-33) their first three-game winning streak of the season in their final game before the annual All-Star break.
Kanter contributed 12 points and seven rebounds; Jefferson added a dozen points of his own; and Evans used some slick 5-of-7 shooting to score 10 more points as Utah's bench brigade — led by Burks, Kanter and Evans — outscored their Philly counterparts by a whopping 56-10 margin.
Kanter praised the performance of his teammate and fellow bench buddy Burks.
"He is playing really hard," Kanter said. "At the end, I got him his dunk, so he is appreciative of me. Alec just came in and hyped us up."
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