Utah Jazz: Alec Burks’ return a good sign for struggling team
Jazz notes • Guard put up big numbers in return against Knicks.
Published: April 2, 2014 02:41PM
Updated: April 2, 2014 10:19PM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) grabs a loose ball from Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10), in NBA action, Utah Jazz vs. the New York Knicks, at EnergySolutions arena, Monday, March 31, 2014

Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks is back.

After missing four games because of a sprained left ankle and an admittedly rusty performance Sunday at Oklahoma City, Burks was at his driving-slashing-acrobatic best in Monday night’s 92-83 loss to the Knicks.

He finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The only blemish on his stat line were five turnovers, which matched a season-high.

Coach Tyrone Corbin liked what he saw.

“His movement, his attacking ability,” Corbin said. “He was spectacular getting to the rim. … He went down the lane and finished. I felt like we wasn’t holding back at all.”

Burks was injured on March 21.

“Last play of practice,” he said. “Stepped in somebody’s foot. It happens. It hurt. It hurt worse than I thought it would. I had to sit down.”

The Jazz went 1-3 without Burks. They defeated Orlando (89-88) but lost to Detroit (114-94), Memphis (91-87) and New Orleans (102-95).

“I saw them fighting — fighting every game,” Burks said. “They lost a few, but I saw that fight every game.”

Burks was sidelined for eight days before determining he could return for the Jazz’s 116-96 loss at Oklahoma City.

“After I got hurt,” Burks said, “I waited until I could play one-on-one. When I could play one-on-one at the speed I wanted to play, I knew I was better.”

The Jazz have seven games remaining, starting Friday night in a rematch with the Pelicans at EnergySolutions Arena.

“We’ve got to finish strong,” Burks said. “That’s all we can worry about. We’re going to finish strong. That’s all people are talking about.”

A cause close to Ian Clark’s heart

As part of the NBA’s support of autism awareness, rookie Ian Clark met some students from the Pingree School and their families before the game against New York.

It’s a cause close to Clark’s heart.

“I have a little cousin who has autism,” he said. “I grew up with him. And a sister-in-law, too. So I have a relationship with [autism] and know how it can affect lives. I want to be involved in it.”

Asked about his meeting with the Pingree students, Clark said, “It’s always a good feeling to put a smile on their faces.”

‘A chance to reflect’

After playing 23 games in 41 nights, the Jazz find themselves in the middle of a three-day break between playing New York and New Orleans.

Utah has lost 16 of its last 18 games, including five in a row.

“It’s a chance to reflect back and stay focused,” Corbin said. “We’ve lost some games here of late. Guys are beat up mentally and physically. But we get a chance now to slow things down and refocus and finish up.”

luhm@sltrib.com