For the second time in the past week, point guard Trey Burke bounced back from a poor performance with a strong outing. Unsurprisingly, his Utah Jazz followed his example in both cases. Just 22 hours after falling in an embarrassing blowout to the Atlanta Hawks, Utah bounced back to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 88-85.
While the Jazz did not play the most aesthetic form of basketball, it was enough to secure their second win in three games and their fourth in the past seven. A main catalyst behind the recent success has been Burke, and Saturday’s matchup with Charlotte was no exception. The highly touted rookie came through in the fourth, making several big baskets and hitting the two free throws that ultimately sealed the game’s fate. Burke finished with 20 points, four assists and three rebounds in just 26 minutes.
Former Utah Jazz stalwart Al Jefferson displayed his usual consistency, totaling 19 points and 11 rebounds. He too made some huge plays down the stretch, but a twisted ankle kept him from gaining the lift needed to capitalize on two tip-in attempts that would have given the Bobcats a lead in the final minute.
Utah is now 2-2 on its annual Christmastime road trip.
Bombs away: One of the biggest weaknesses for the Utah Jazz franchise the past few seasons has been shooting from long distance. While this year’s squad is not the strongest in the NBA, it has had numerous outings where stellar shooting has been a deciding factor in a game’s outcome. Against the Bobcats, the Jazz made 10 of 21 — 47.6 percent. Burke again led the attack, draining four of his eight attempts. Swingmen Gordon Hayward and Richard Jefferson each made two of four.
The Jazz fared better outside the arc than they did inside it. Utah hit just 22 of 62 for a mere 35.5 percent. It only had 32 points in the paint as a result.
This and that:
• John Lucas III got the nod behind Burke, supplanting teammate Diante Garrett as the backup point guard.
• Bobcats guard Kemba Walker is among the league’s most improved players this season. He finished the night with 20 points, five boards and four assists.
• Utah guard Brandon Rush had his fourth consecutive scoreless game. He has scored just three points in the past 70 minutes he’s logged.
• First-year players Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark were recalled from their D-League assignment in time to be in Charlotte with their teammates.
• Hayward had nine second-half rebounds.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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