Utah Jazz: Utah guard Alec Burks starts rusty, plays well in return from ankle injury
Sue Ogrocki, AP
OKLAHOMA CITY — Alec Burks, the Jazz’s energetic and prolific sixth man, entered Sunday’s game and immediately, well, looked like he’d missed the past four games with an injury.
Burks went to the free-throw line less than a minute after checking in for Richard Jefferson in the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Miss and miss.
A half-minute later, the third-year guard got the ball and ... bad pass.
In other words, the 6-6 Burks was just about as bad as his teammates were in the beginning of a 116-96 blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I had to get that out first,” Burks said after playing his first game since March 19. “In the second half, I felt like I was back to my game.”
Burks got going with a mid-range jumper after his rough start in the first quarter, and he went on to score 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. His 2-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line and two turnovers were signs of rust in his 21-minute return performance.
More important, Burks’ ankle passed this test. He’d missed the previous four games, his only absences of the season, after spraining his left ankle after stepping on a teammate’s foot in practice a week ago Friday.
“I feel real good. At first, I was scared to play on it. I thought something was going to happen,” Burks admitted. “But in the rhythm of the game, I just got going and my explosiveness felt like it was there.”
The Jazz bench has been mostly ineffective in providing an offensive spark while Burks has been nursing his ankle back to health the past week and a half.
“It was good to get him back on the floor,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “In the beginning, he was a little rusty, but he worked that off. To see him get himself going after playing a little bit, we need him to be ready to go.”
MISSING ZZZZs: Playing a 2 o’clock tipoff was a bit strange for the Jazz. For one thing, players weren’t able to catch an afternoon snooze, which is customary for athletes around the NBA.
“I didn’t get a nap like I wanted to,” Jazz big man Derrick Favors said before tipoff. “I’m ready for it. It just kind of threw me off, but I’m ready for it.”
Favors said he normally sleeps about 1 1/2 to two hours between shootaround and before leaving at about 4 p.m. every game day.
Burks, ever a cool customer, smiled and said the different tipoff time didn’t negatively affect him.
“Just like my AAU days,” he said.
NEW LOW: The Jazz set a season low for points in the first quarter Sunday after falling behind 26-9 to the Thunder following the first 12-minute stanza. Utah’s previous low was 12 points in a first quarter, which happened in a 110-99 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
The Jazz’s season low for points in a quarter was eight, which is all they scored in 12 minutes of a 97-87 loss at Boston on Nov. 6.
“We missed a lot of shots. You give them credit. They’re a great team. They came out,” Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson said. “But no team, no professional team, scores four, six, eight, 10, 12 points (in a quarter) just based off defense. Part of it was their defense. Part of it was just we had some really good looks (and missed).”
Utah missed its first seven shots and went 2 for 17 while scoring just four points in the first 9 1/2 minutes. The Jazz were 4 of 21 from the field for the quarter.
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