NBA: Utah Jazz's Alec Burks unloads for 31, eyes starting spot
Orlando, Fla. • Alec Burks came to Summer League to prove a point.
He knows the Jazz are watching. He's aware Utah's starting shooting guard spot is up for grabs. He believes the position should one day belong to him.
So Burks unleashed a one-man show Tuesday, pouring in a game-high 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting in 29 minutes and 5 seconds of nonstop action.
The second-year guard slashed and attacked. He took defenders off the dribble, shook free, then dashed toward the rim and contorted his body before smoothly following through. He constantly finished like a pro and nailed 10 of 11 free-throw attempts like a proven veteran. When the buzzer rang and Burks' fire was officially put out, it was 84-80 Jazz over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday inside Amway Center. The 20-year-old kid from Grandview, Mo., had offered further proof he can be a difference-maker. The No. 12 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft had offered another reminder that those who initially doubted his game misfired.
"I'm learning. I'm taking the experience I got last year and I'm just working on it," Burks said. "I just want to make a big jump into my sophomore year, like Gordon [Hayward] and Derrick [Favors] did. Just get better."
Burks exceeded expectations as a rookie. He quickly evolved from a training-camp question mark into a reliable reserve. As the 2011-12 lockout season wore on, Burks stepped up. He single-handedly closed down the Lakers in Los Angeles on March 17, scoring 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes and handing the Jazz a 103-99 victory. He finished his first year averaging 7.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15.9 minutes, shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from the line in 59 games.
Two months into his second season, Burks wants more. He's already made two trips to P3, the high-performance training facility favored by Utah and based in Santa Barbara, Calif. His defense showed clear improvement Tuesday, as Burks locked down in man-to-man sets and didn't hesitate to use his body as a weapon. His offense was sharper than ever, with Burks alternating slicing drives with pull-up jumpers and putbacks, highlighted by an 11-point first quarter outburst.
One day after struggling to find a rhythm during his first-ever Summer League game, the ex-Colorado standout owned the court. The show left second-year teammate Enes Kanter saying Alec Burks is Alec Burks, while normally reserved coach Scott Layden spent nearly two minutes responding to a single question about Burks' domination.
"He was phenomenal," said Layden, who held lead coaching duties Tuesday. "I was real excited for him, because I thought [Monday] it was just not a good day. The thing that is so encouraging for our franchise with a young player is that he wanted to come back. He knew it was an opportunity, and that's what it is. â¦ I don't think we could've won the game, either, [without him]. He played really, really well."
That's exactly what Burks wants to hear.
While Mo Williams is expected to start at point guard in 2012-13 and the Jazz's loaded frontcourt features Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson, Utah is still unsettled at the wing positions.
Burks has yet to start a game in the NBA. He's only 20. But his eyes are already set on the 2 for the long term.
"That's what I'm working on. That's what I'm playing this hard for, to show I can start at the 2 in the NBA," Burks said. "We're going to see what happens."
Notes • Kanter also had a comeback game. After a disappointing outing Monday, the center recorded 10 points and eight rebounds. â¦ Jazz forward DeMarre Carroll recently tweaked his left ankle, which was wrapped in ice after the game. Carroll said he didn't plan to play in Utah's three remaining Summer League games, but he hadn't yet spoken with Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor. â¦ Michael Stockton, Burks, Carroll, Tony Gaffney and Kanter started for Utah (1-1). â¦ Jazz rookie Kevin Murphy scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting and played 6:30 during the final quarter. â¦ Jacob Pullen's 23 points topped the 76ers (0-2).
R In short • The Jazz down the 76ers 84-80 Tuesday in a Summer League game.
Key stat • Utah guard Alec Burks pours in a game-high 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting.
Key moment • Burks collects 11 points in the first quarter and never settles.
P Jazz vs. Magic, Wednesday, 3 p.m. MDT
TV • NBA TV