Orlando, Fla. — Notes and analysis following Utah's 84-80 victory against Detroit on Tuesday during an NBA Summer League contest inside Amway Center.
Top Jazz: Alec Burks. The relentless attacker from Grandview, Mo., unleashed one of his best performances in a Jazz uniform. Granted, it was Summer League. But 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting in 29:05 can't be denied or ignored, and Burks made sure Utah had all eyes on him Tuesday. A confident but not cocky Burks said postgame he's playing as hard as possible in Orlando, doing so in the hope the Jazz will give him full consideration for their starting shooting guard spot next season. While Burks still most prove he can hit 3-pointers and long-range jumpers against NBA starters, his bounce-back game Tuesday was very encouraging. He owned the first quarter, never relented, and finished off the 76ers in the fourth. The 20-year-old Burks is already Utah's best attacker and finisher at the rim, and one of the Jazz's most aggressive players. None of his 14 field goal attempts Tuesday came outside the flow of the offense, and he was a cool 10 of 11 from the line. If Burks' progression continues, Utah might not need to add a proven shooting guard after all.
Best game: Burks, hands down. But Enes Kanter also played well. His game was a mess Monday, and everyone from Jazz coaches to Kanter knew it. The No. 3 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft rebounded Tuesday, recording 10 points and eight boards (three offensive) in 26:48. He fought for and won offensive position on the low block, rotated well on defense, and maintained a consistent defensive presence. Jazz coaches rewarded his improved effort with vocal praise, and Kanter was back to his confident self during a postgame interview. He also revealed he took some legitimate time off and chilled out in Turkey following the 2011-12 season, which he said contributed to his lackluster showing Monday. Kanter's been to P3 with Burks twice in the last two months, though, and neither Big Turkey nor the Jazz are concerned with his conditioning — the 2012-13 campaign is still four months away.
Real Utah: DeMarre Carroll has yet to assert himself through two games, and an injured left ankle explains why. Carroll was just 2 of 8 for four points Tuesday and didn't play with his normal aggressiveness. Carroll's left ankle was iced after the contest, and he said he doesn't plan to play in Utah's three remaining Summer League games.
Kevin Murphy was solid but didn't stand out, finishing with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting. While coach Tyrone Corbin said last week that Murphy's bigger than he expected, the No. 47 overall pick of the 2012 draft has appeared undersized during two Summer League games. He's also struggled to create separation from defenders, and initially appears to be a much better catch-and-release shooter than an attacking shooting guard. Murphy found a groove during the fourth quarter Tuesday, scoring four points and hitting two nice jump shots.
Stockton watch: Michael Stockton cashed in his impressive outing Monday by starting for the Jazz against the 76ers. He was only 1 of 3 from the field for four points, but Stockton dished out a game-high five assists and developed a smooth in-game rhythm with Burks and Murphy. Stockton also became more confident as the game wore on, and he efficiently ran the point.
Bright spots: Tony Gaffney, Justin Knox, Salah Mejrl, John Millsap. Gaffney had his second consecutive strong game, turning a starting spot into nine points on 3-of-4 shooting in 12:53. Mejrl has quickly become the Jazz's Summer League in-house favorite. The tall, long-armed center collected four rebounds (two offensive) and one block in 13:12, and his lone basket was a running slam that left Utah's entire bench yelling and laughing in joy. Mejrl's also earned two good nicknames: Sally and Tunisian No-No.
Other side: Philadelphia's Jacob Pullen and Justin Holiday combined for 39 points, with Pullen singlehandedly keeping the 76ers close in the fourth quarter.
Energy meter: The Jazz were much improved Tuesday. After failing to click during its Summer League debut, Utah responded to coach Scott Layden's game-long throaty yells and attacked from the opening tip. The Jazz's first five were especially charged, with everyone from Burks and Kanter to Millsap and Kyle Weaver bringing increased energy.
Numbers game: Utah's up-tempo attack kicked up the Jazz's efficiency in nearly every key statistical category. The Jazz shot 46.2 percent (30 of 65) from the floor and 42.9 percent (3 of 7) behind the 3-point line, while hitting 75 percent (21 of 28) of their free throws. Nineteen second-chance points and 16 in the fast break captured Utah's improved effort, while the Jazz outrebounded the 76ers 37-35 and won every quarter except the second.
Carroll on his injured ankle: "I tweaked it during practice. It hasn't felt right yet. … I ain't playing. I'm going to tell Kevin [O'Connor] in a minute."
Layden on Burks: "In the NBA, as you know, we've got back-to-back; we're on a road trip; we have some tough games, whatever the case is. But you've got to be ready to get ready the next day, and that's why these Summer Leagues are so important for young players. His first year was without a Summer League; the experience of just getting ready. And so, again, [Wednesday] — how do you do after a great game? Let's see how he does. I think he'll do well. You know him. But he's a good guy and I think he really likes basketball.
"The other thing about him — and this is not related to the bounce-back — but he is an unbelievable layup shooter. I mean, really, that's an art. That's a skill. Because you can get in the lane … and finish. Layup shooters, they find a way to get it to the glass quick. He's got tremendous body control — to get [the ball] up on the other side, to use the rim. And he's going in there against big guys, so you wonder how he even sees the basket sometimes. But that's a skill that he's had. And oftentimes he's going at an unbelievable speed. Yet when it comes time to lay it in, he's got that soft touch and sometimes some english and spin that he puts on the ball that finishes the shot. Really, he's got to be in a small percentile of guys in the league that can finish like that."
Last call: Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek interviewed late Monday for the Orlando Magic's head coaching job. Hornacek declined comment Tuesday, but the meeting went well. … Blake Ahearn played just 6:29, with Stockton, Weaver and Mike Green earning more time at point guard. … The 76ers' Mo Harkless (left hip) didn't play in the second half.
Brian T. Smith
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