Trey Burke used to rehearse for his moment every day when he was younger.
Utah’s rookie point guard would shoot by himself for hours at the gym, imagining an expiring clock, a narrow deficit, an entire game on his shoulders. He would shoot over brooms and ladders, impersonating long-armed defenders contesting his jumper.
He got his chance in real life on Saturday night. Before 19,228 at EnergySolutions Arena, Burke hit the game-winner, a dagger from the corner over Orlando’s Victor Oladipo. The shot gave the Jazz an 89-88 victory over the Magic and broke a six-game losing streak.
“I knew that I had to get a lot of arc on it,” Burke said. “Victor was flying at me and I knew if I shot it the way I regularly did, it was going to either miss or get blocked. I knew we didn’t have a lot of time, so I had to be ready to shoot the ball right away.”
Thing is, Burke hardly had a great outing. He shot 5-for-15 from the field. He missed easy shots in the lane. He had a couple of ghastly turnovers late in the game — miscues that aided a huge Orlando rally in the fourth quarter.
But for as bad as he played in spots, Burke came up huge when it counted. Even before his game-winner, his 3-pointer with 2:55 remaining gave the Jazz a 79-77 lead, just as Oladipo had given Orlando an advantage with two free throws.
In what’s been a difficult season, Utah’s looked for bright spots wherever they can be had. And on Saturday, the Jazz could’ve easily surrendered their seventh consecutive loss in ugly fashion. Instead, Gordon Hayward drove the lane and made a fantastic pass, and Burke proved capable of hitting a big shot.
“The ball went in the hole,” Utah coach Ty Corbin said. “After putting ourselves in a bad position, I thought the guys did a good job to close the game out. They understood the pace, Gordon made a great pass to the corner and Trey made the shot. It’s great to see the young guys show a lot of character. We could’ve fell apart there when we fell behind, but they played it out.”
In a maturity-filled final two minutes, Corbin said his guys had four possessions that needed to go right, and they executed each time. Down 83-81, Richard Jefferson went to the basket, got fouled and made a free throw. Down 85-82, Hayward created contact, drew another foul and hit two more freebies. Down 87-84, Hayward dished to Derrick Favors for a lay-in. And then came Burke’s big play.
Each possession was critical. A misstep anywhere in that sequence, and the game is probably over.
“The poise that they showed down the stretch was really good for this young group,” Corbin said. “We didn’t create the pace that we wanted to, but I liked the way we finished the game.”
The good finish now overshadows how badly Utah played in the second and third quarters. In fact, the Jazz were headed for an ugly defeat, because they were ahead for the entire game, save for the last three minutes.
At the end, however, Utah’s balance placed six players in double figures, led by Richard Jefferson’s 21. Burke wound up with 17 points and four assists, but turned the ball over three times. Derrick Favors scored 11 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots.
The Jazz move to 23-47 on the season, and will face the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
“I felt it was great team defense by our guys,” Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I think Victor’s contest was unbelievable. Burke got the shot off with a lot of arc, and I give him credit for making it.”
Storylines Jazz 89, Magic 88
R Trey Burke makes the game-winner, a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining.
• Utah moves to 23-47 on the season.
• Derrick Favors has 11 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.