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Utah Jazz notes: Alec Burks only playing bigger as season winds down

NBA » Burks provides key minutes off bench in victory vs. Nets.

First Published Mar 27 2012 09:57 am • Last Updated Mar 28 2012 12:22 am

Boston • The statistics are normally reserved for Jazz players such as Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward or C.J. Miles.

Fifteen points on 5-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, two assists and five made throws, all in 30 minutes and 47 seconds of action.

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Monday, the numbers belonged to Alec Burks.

The rookie guard continued to shine, and he was a game-changer during Utah’s 105-84 road victory against New Jersey.

"Just trying to play aggressive," Burks said. "That’s what I come in the game to do: play with energy."

Burks finished third on the Jazz in four key categories — points, boards, minutes, made field goals — while sinking all of his attempts from the line. He recorded at least two points during all four quarters, including eight in a first half that saw the former Colorado standout play more minutes (15:38) than anyone on Utah’s roster. And the No. 12 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft again proved he’s ahead of schedule, alternately attacking the basket and firing away from long range, while displaying improved defensive focus.

During a game when the Jazz needed their reserves more than any point this season — Utah was coming off a quadruple-overtime loss to Atlanta that saw all starters play at least 49 minutes — Burks wasn’t just a difference-maker. He performed like a trusted veteran, all while being just 20 years old.

"He’s continuing to grow, man. And we expect him to continue to get better every night on the floor," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.

Real victory


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story continues below

Despite knocking off Memphis, Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers this season away from Salt Lake City, Utah’s 8-17 road record still doesn’t look playoff-worthy.

Beating the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday would make 9-17 look even better.

The Jazz’s 110-86 blowout loss to the Celtics during the 2010-11 campaign marked one of the lowest points of Utah’s season.

Boston has been far from perfect this year, and the aging Celtics have struggled to maintain consistency during the lockout-shortened campaign. But Boston still has its Big Three and Rajon Rondo, and the 2008 NBA champions are 17-8 at the modern Garden.

"It’s big. I think it’s going to be a great test," Miles said. "Especially with us trying to learn how to get better on the road. They’re a good team, a veteran team. And they know how to win games, which is the thing we’re trying to get to."

Briefly

The Jazz have won seven of eight despite playing without Josh Howard and Raja Bell, who’ve started a combined 51 games this season. … Since Howard was lost to knee surgery, reserve forward DeMarre Carroll has averaged 5.2 points on 45.8 percent shooting and 2.2 rebounds in five games. He recorded seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, five rebounds and 19 minutes against the Nets.

bsmith@sltrib.com

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