Utah’s Brandon Rush is showing little by little why he was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Rush was acquired from Golden State last summer and appears to be working his way back after suffering a major knee injury 14 months ago.
Rush played his smoothest, most confident-looking game of the season Monday night in Utah’s 118-103 victory over Denver.
He scored seven points and handed out two assists in a span of seven minutes, starting midway through the first quarter and extending into the second.
“I definitely felt ... a little bit more comfortable than I’ve been showing the last few weeks,” Rush said. “I think it’s just coming from practice — all the practice time we’ve been having.”
Rush’s eye-opening stretch against the Nuggets started when he put the ball on the floor, got into the lane and hit a feathery 8-footer.
He knocked down a 3-point shot that gave Utah a 27-26 lead with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first quarter.
His kick-out pass to Enes Kanter resulted in a wide-open 15-footer moments later.
Rush drove again with 10:07 remaining in the half. When the defense collapsed, he delivered a perfect wrap-around pass to Kanter, whose layup gave the Jazz a 37-33 lead.
“He’s getting better,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He’s getting more confident. He’s just playing the game as we get deeper into the season, and that’s going to be huge for us. We need everybody on this roster to be ready and play their best every night.”
Said Rush: “It was definitely fun and it’s definitely fun getting some wins with the guys.”
The Jazz make their first ESPN television appearance of the year Wednesday night at San Antonio.
Although they have played twice on NBA TV, the game against the Spurs will give them their greatest exposure so far this season.
“It’s always fun for the guys to be on national TV,” Corbin said. “But the San Antonio Spurs, they’re enough to think about. So we can’t make it any bigger than what it is. The opponent is going to be big enough for us.”
For Trey Burke, going head-to-head against All-Star Tony Parker under such a bright spotlight could be a boost to his Rookie of the Year candidacy.
“I think we’ll all be ready,” Burke said. “It’s nothing we’re not used to. We’ve all been [on ESPN] before. But it should be fun.”
The Jazz have two other games scheduled for ESPN — Jan. 31 against Golden State and March 26 against Memphis. They do not appear on TNT this season.
Jazz at Spurs
O At the AT&T Center, San Antonio
Tipoff • Wednesday, 6 p.m.
TV • ESPN. Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Jazz 13-26; Spurs 30-8.
About the Jazz • Leading scorer Gordon Hayward has missed the last two games with a hip flexor injury; his status remains uncertain. … Winners of six out of their last 10. … Playing in just their third national TV game of the year (previous two on NBA TV).
About the Spurs • Tony Parker leads the team with 17.9 points and 6.3 assists a night. … Have beaten the Jazz twice this year in Salt Lake City. … Forward Danny Green (finger) and center Tiago Splitter (shoulder) are both injured.