I thought Trey did a great job today, especially after the game both he and I had in Miami. It was a good bounce-back game for both of us. —Jazz guard Gordon Hayward
ORLANDO, Fla. — Before Wednesday’s game, Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin almost sounded like he was reading from a "Star Wars" movie screen crawl when asked about Trey Burke’s rough outing at the Orlando Summer League.
“That’s a long, long time ago,” he said. “We forgot about that.”
Judging the way he played in the Jazz’s 86-82 victory at Amway Center, Burke’s game has seemingly left all memories of that poor performance in a galaxy far, far away, too.
The 6-1 point guard sparked Utah’s latest road win — the team’s third in a week — with the best game of his young career: 30 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
The only other players who’ve put those numbers up in the same game this season include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Damian Lillard and Jamal Crawford.
And this from a young player who struggled massively in the summer, scoring just 35 points total and missing 18 of 19 3-pointers during that sluggish summer-league showing.
“Well,” Corbin said, “he was waiting to get back to Orlando, I guess.”
Jazz marketing can decide whether to dub this one, “The Return of the Trey Guy” or “The Burke Strikes Back.”
Whatever you call it, Burke’s performance was certainly out of this world.
Six months after he made Jazzland wonder what management was thinking, Burke hit 12 of 20 field goals, drilled half of his 3-pointers (4-8), was the catalyst to a fourth-quarter rally, and became the latest young Jazz player to take over a game.
“I thought he was really good tonight,” Corbin said. “Not just the fact that he scored, rebounded and assisted for us, but I thought defensively he did some good things.”
Even when Burke had some late miscues, his teammates were there to back him up on this night.
With the Jazz up 84-82, the rookie bobbled the ball out of bounds to give Orlando a chance to tie or go ahead with 54.2 seconds remaining.
With Burke defending him, Magic point guard Jameer Nelson then burst by the Jazz player and had what seemed like an open layup attempt that could’ve tied it with 3.3 seconds remaining. But Derrick Favors (14 points, 11 rebounds) closed in on Nelson and the 6-10 center forced the 6-foot Orlando guard to put extra arch on the layup, which didn’t drop in.
Gordon Hayward, who had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds, sealed Utah’s third road win in four outings by hitting two free throws with 1.6 seconds left.
“There are definitely moments when we show our potential and what we could be. It is exciting to see that,” Hayward said. “I thought Trey did a great job today, especially after the game both he and I had in Miami. It was a good bounce-back game for both of us.”
Especially for Burke, and in more ways than one.
It was quite the coincidence that Burke arrived in Orlando, where he had his shaky pro debut in July, just two days after his NBA-low three-point performance against the Heat.
“It’s like night and day,” Burke said in a jovial locker room after Utah improved to 7-21.
Not only was there that rebound-from-Monday angle to Wednesday’s game, but the Magic (8-18) gave Burke his first workout before the 2013 NBA draft. He even stayed in the same hotel with the Jazz as he had last spring. Instead of taking the 2013 NCAA player of the year, Orlando opted to select versatile shooting guard Victor Oladipo from Indiana with the No. 2 pick.
Throw Monday’s bad game, his really bad week here in July, the June disappointment of waiting until the No. 9 position to hear his name called in the draft and the rematch with his old Big Ten buddy who’s received more national acclaim this season, and Burke had a whole lot of extra motivation for playing out of his mind.
Which he did.
“Give him credit,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Best of all for Burke, the 21-year-old with star potential helped his team win.
“That (proving a point) wasn’t my main intention or my main goal,” he said. “But I definitely wanted to come out and be really aggressive today. For me, I am trying to win and do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
Burke opened strong, scoring eight points and dishing out four assists in the first quarter as the Jazz took a 27-20 lead over a Magic squad playing without their ill leading scorer, Arron Afflalo.
Utah pushed that lead to as many as 12 points before Orlando surged ahead by seven with eight minutes remaining.
By that point, Burke had already wowed the crowd with sweet drives, leaning shots off the backboard and swishes from beyond the arc while becoming the first rookie to log a 30-point game this season. The Michigan product came in for one last strong stretch of steady court leadership in the fourth quarter, showing why the Jazz were so giddy after acquiring him from Minnesota in exchange for two first-rounders on draft night.
Burke was the first point guard taken in June, and it was clear why when he engineered a 9-0 Jazz run right after checking back in and Utah had fallen behind 76-69.
Burke’s pull-up 19-foot jumper with 3:45 remaining gave the Jazz the lead for good at 80-78.
"I saw early on that my shot was falling and I could get into the paint and get some good looks," Burke said. "I just tried to continue to stay aggressive and my teammates told me to."
Oladipo, by the way, only scored three points on 1-for-12 shooting. Coincidentally, that’s what Burke shot in his first game in Orlando with the Jazz this past summer.
But, as his coach was quick to remind everybody Wednesday, that was a long, long time ago.
“He’s continued to get better. He’s understanding that when he doesn’t have one of his better performances how he can come back from that performance, and tonight was a great indicator,” Corbin said. “In the first half, he was going pretty decent, but when we subbed and he came back in the fourth quarter, I thought he did a tremendous job controlling the tempo of the game for us.”
NOTES: Burke was the first NBA rookie to to reach those 30-8-7 numbers since Clippers forward Blake Griffin had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on April 13, 2011. Burke, who's only played 16 games, is the first rookie to compile that stat line since Alvan Adams had 35-12-8 in his ninth game on Nov. 14, 1975. ... The Jazz won despite only scoring 37 points and shooting 32.5 percent in the second half. ... This is the third time in four games a Utah player has scored 30 points. Hayward had 30 at Denver on Friday and Alec Burks had 31 on Monday. ... The Jazz still have three games on their pre-Christmas trip, including back-to-back outings Friday and Saturday against Paul Millsap's Atlanta Hawks and Al Jefferson's Charlotte Bobcats.
EMAIL: [email protected]