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Utah Jazz: Point guard Diante Garrett seizing the day with new team

Published: Tuesday, July 7 2015 5:18 a.m. MDT

Utah Jazz guard Diante Garrett (8) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson chase a loose ball in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.  (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press) Utah Jazz guard Diante Garrett (8) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson chase a loose ball in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Diante Garrett has tattoos on his arms that spell out “Carpe Diem.”

A month ago, the point guard thought he was going to get the opportunity to seize the moment with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That didn’t quite work out. Just before the 2013-14 season tipped off, the Thunder released the 25-year-old, who was hoping to find his second NBA home.

A couple of weeks later, Garrett got another chance with the Utah Jazz.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks is one who’s happy to see Garrett back in the league, especially because he found a new team after being cut by OKC last month. Brooks said Garrett had a “good” showing in late September and October while trying to return to the league after his 19-game stint with Phoenix last year.

“He left a good imprint on his style of play. I thought he hustled. He has just a lot of good energy,” Brooks said. “It just didn’t work out for us, but we knew he was an NBA player and would get picked up. I’m glad he got picked up early.”

Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) drives to the basket between Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. Oklahoma City won 95-73. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (Sue Ogrocki, AP) Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) drives to the basket between Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. Oklahoma City won 95-73. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (Sue Ogrocki, AP)

Two nights after his career-high eight-assist outing in Dallas, Garrett returned to Chesapeake Energy Arena to play against his short-term teammates. The reserve scored seven points with two assists.

“I came pretty close (to making the Thunder). I had a good opportunity to make the squad. I think I did pretty good,” Garrett said. “I know it’s a business and a lot of things go along with it. I understood what happened.”

Though Garrett said it was going to be “fun” to play in OKC, the night was anything but enjoyable for the Jazz in a 95-73 loss. He played 21 minutes and scored seven points on 3-for-6 shooting in the blowout.

Even in this season-starting slump, Garrett is thoroughly enjoying this chance to be on an NBA team and to play. It was two weeks ago Monday night when he was shopping at Wal-Mart and got the call from his agent that the Jazz were going to bring him up from Iowa of the D-League to replace waived Jamaal Tinsley.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots between Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors, left, and forward Marvin Williams (2) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.  (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots between Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors, left, and forward Marvin Williams (2) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press)

Garrett quickly became a fan favorite as he played a key role in Utah's only win of the season the same night he signed with the NBA squad 12 days ago.

His Jazz highlights so far?

Garrett: “Just being able to play and actually getting out there and helping the team out and living your dream.”

INJURY UPDATE: Rookie Trey Burke made his first NBA start Sunday, but ended up only playing 20 minutes. Part of that was because starters didn’t see any time in the fourth quarter because of the lopsided score, but the point guard is also still restricted to how much he can play.

Burke has played three games since returning after having surgery on his fractured right index finger six weeks ago.

“It feels really good, still a little sore,” he said before Sunday’s tipoff. “It gets sore from time to time after the game, but it’s not nothing that’s holding me back.”

Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) and forward Jeremy Evans (40) try to take the ball away from Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.  (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press) Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) and forward Jeremy Evans (40) try to take the ball away from Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press)

Burke said he almost has full mobility with the finger, but not quite. He has it taped to the middle finger on his shooting hand during games.

“I’m still trying to get it to cooperate with me," Burke said. “It gets stiff at times. It feels better, though.”

NEXT TIME: Burke was getting geared up for his first matchup against point guard Russell Westbrook, but the Thunder star was given the night off to rest after recently returning from knee surgery.

“He’s one of the better point guards in the NBA. It definitely would have been a challenge,” Burke said. “I was looking forward to it. … It’s definitely a little bit of a disappointment.”

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