SALT LAKE CITY — There may not be anything Alec Burks hates more than talking to the media. He’s a man of few words and is uncomfortable when too much attention is directed his way.
However, Burks couldn’t hide after Monday’s night’s 118-103 Jazz victory over Denver, not after he scored a career-high 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 shooting from the line.
A horde of media folks descended on Burks’ cubicle to ask about his best night as a Jazzman when he carried Utah with clutch shot after clutch shot as a large Jazz lead was dwindling in the second half.
“I happened to make some shots tonight and we got the win,’’ said the man of few words.
The third-year pro from Colorado was making his second straight start — his fifth of the season — in place of Jazz leading scorer Gordon Hayward, who was out for the second straight game with a strained hip flexor.
Burks said he felt no pressure to pick up the slack with Hayward being out.
“Nah, I just wanted to be myself, be aggressive,’’ he said. “I feel like every time I step on the court I need to be aggressive. That’s the way I feel.’’
Coach Tyrone Corbin was thrilled with his team’s offensive performance overall, but singled out Burks’ terrific play.
“He did a great job on the offensive end,’’ Corbin said. “We had to go through him a little bit tonight ... with Gordon being out. We need a guy to step up, and he did a great job and made some huge plays for us down the stretch.’’
Denver had no answer for him, which Nuggets coach Brian Shaw noted afterward.
“(Burks) just won every individual matchup that we put on him,’’ he said. “One of the things we talked about was with their best player, Gordon Hayward, being out, all that does is give an opportunity for somebody else to come in and make a name for themselves. And Alec Burks, right on cue, came in and got his career high.’’
Burks started off with an 18-footer, added a breakaway dunk, a runner in the lane and four free throws in the first quarter.
He had seven more in the second quarter with another dunk, two more free throws and a three-point play in the final minute with a bank shot and a free throw.
In the third quarter, he had a drive, a 17-footer from the right angle, and one of his patented acrobatic shots in the lane that found its way over the rim.
After the Jazz went scoreless on four straight possessions early in the fourth quarter, allowing the Nuggets to get within 13, Burks broke the drought with a drive in the lane, banking it in and adding a foul shot.2 comments on this story
Later, with the shot clock winding down, Burks took the ball from the foul line, went behind his back in the lane and twisted in with a left-handed layup over a pair of Nuggets, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Finally, in the final two minutes, Burks added three more baskets, driving in the lane and firing up some crazy shots off the glass that banked in.
“Coach said they were in the bonus, so I was just trying to get to the rim and put some pressure on them to play defense,’’ Burks said, in his longest sentence of the night.