Richard Jefferson remembers a moment in a game early this season when Alec Burks, near the end of a good shooting night, got the ball in his hands and looked around too long for an open teammate.
"I’m like, ‘Dude. No, no, no,’ " the veteran Jefferson recalls telling the youngster Burks. "’You earned that. You take that ball and you go finish that game.’"
Latest tweets on the Utah Jazz (newest at the top)
The kid apparently took the lesson to heart.
With the Jazz and the similarly lottery bound Philadelphia 76ers tied at 91 late Wednesday night, Burks wanted the ball - and he delivered big. The third-year guard scored nine straight points before Philly finally answered, eventually helping push the Jazz to a 105-100 victory and the team’s first three-game winning streak of the year.
"Just being aggressive. Just playing the game I play, trying to get the rim, you know. Shots happened to fall," Burks said, a simple assessment of his 26-point, four-rebound game.
Philadelphia came into EnergySolutions Arena coming off a pair of 40-plus-point blowouts, and the Jazz looked to be pulling away for good when they took an 89-75 lead with nine minutes to play.
But Utah got stuck on the number.
The Jazz went scoreless for nearly six minutes while the Sixers whittled the lead down to one. Philadelphia rookie Michael Carter-Williams then tied the game at 91 with a layup and a free throw.
Burks, who checked back in with three minutes to play, went to work.
"He came back in the game … and all of a sudden he’s like, ‘Tonight’s my night,’" Jefferson said.
"Lucky enough for us, Alec was able to bail us out at the end," said Jazz coach Ty Corbin.
Burks dazzled, hitting a series of layups, some of which even surprised him. The guard finished off his run with a slam dunk over Carter-Williams.
The Sixers made a game of it down the stretch, though, as shooting guard James Anderson hit three 3-pointers in under 20 seconds. But the Jazz were able to withstand the blitz.
With the loss, the Sixers fell to 15-39 on the year.
Philadelphia forward Evan Turner dropped in a team-high 21 points.
Carter-Williams, meanwhile, had 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds as he continues his Rookie of the Year bid. Taken two picks behind Jazz point guard Trey Burke in last year’s draft, the two figure to be closely connected at least early in their careers. Wednesday night, Burke didn’t have the numbers to match, finishing with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting, two rebounds and two assists. But Burke didn’t need to do much more.
Gordon Hayward, despite a dreadful 3-of-17 shooting night, finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
The Jazz (19-33) lost forward Derrick Favors to a right hip strain just six minutes into the game, but still managed to out-rebound Philly 45-40 on the night.
Behind the big night from Burks and double-digit efforts from Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans, the Jazz bench out-scored the Sixers’ 56-10.
For Burks, it was his second straight game with at least 20 points and his third time hitting that mark in his last five games.
"He’s doing a good job of just being in the right place at the right time," said Jefferson. He’s working on his game and getting better just from the increased minutes and opportunity. He’s maximizing that. … There’s nothing in his game that he’s doing now that he didn’t do when I first got here or that you kind of knew he had the ability to do."Next Page >
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.