Orlando • It had been nearly a month since Alec Burks played in the first half. The Jazz guard whose opportunities seem to come only at the expense of a teammate’s health check into the second quarter of the Jazz’s 97-93 win over Orlando.
The Jazz (15-14) trailed by 14. By the time the half ended, with Burks still in the game, the Jazz had cut the lead to 47-46.
Burks played a season-high 20 minutes and scored eight points. Coach Tyrone Corbin said he got the nod over DeMarre Carroll because the Jazz lacked offensive punch with point guard Mo Williams sidelined with a thumb injury.
“That first time we subbed and we had the bench group in there,” Corbin said, “we couldn’t get the ball in the hole. He’s an attacker and he will give you an opportunity to get some scores at the basket.”
The No. 10 pick in the 2011 draft, Burks has seen his minutes plummet this season with the acquisitions of Randy Foye and Marvin Williams. Most of his opportunities have come late in blowouts, such as Wednesday 104-84 loss at Indianapolis when he scored a season-high 12 points. His previous meaningful stints came when Marvin Williams was out with concussion-like symptoms in early December.
“Free Burks” has become a popular rallying cry among Jazz fans on social media, and Corbin has publicly lamented his inability to find more time for the guard.
On Sunday, everyone was happy.
“It felt great,” Burks said. “I feel like it’s going to help my development. I felt like it was good, it wasn’t part of the last-minute stuff I usually get.”
Burks has often looked uncomfortable and out of rhythm in his limited opportunities.
He is shooting just 37 percent from the field and 16 percent on 3-pointers. On Sunday he made a tremendous play driving to the basket to put the Jazz up 75-73.
“I got drafted on my ability to get to the rim,” Burks said. “I’m going to keep using it until somebody stops me.”
Illustrating the flip side of his development, Burks later passed the ball in the final seconds of the shot clock leading to a turnover.
But while offense is the most scrutinized aspect of Burks’ game, small sample size not withstanding, on Sunday Corbin praised his defense.
Assigned with guarding sharpshooting Magic guard J.J. Redick, Burks drew praise from Corbin for doing “a great job of paying attention” to Redick and “chasing him off screens when he was making plays.”
The Jazz, the Jazz who took hristmas Eve and Christmas Day off, return to action Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena against Golden State.
Jazz vs. Warriors
Wednesday, 7 p.m.