Utah Jazz: Trey Burke breaks finger in loss to Clippers
By Steve Luhm
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Oct 12 2013 11:04PM
The Utah Jazz lost far more than a preseason game Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Rookie point guard Trey Burke suffered a fractured index finger on his right hand during the L.A. Clippers’ lopsided 106-74 win over the Jazz.
Burke, a projected cornerstone in Utah’s rebuilding this season, will be examined by a specialist on Sunday, when a timetable for his return will be determined.
Burke was hurt in the first quarter against the Clippers. He returned briefly in the second quarter but did not play after halftime.
In a stone-silent locker room after the game, Burke said, "I just tried to make a pocket pass off the pick and roll. I don’t know if it was Chris Paul’s hand or what, but somebody’s hand was right there. I hit it hard enough so it popped out."
Burke spoke to reporters in front of his locker, with a large splint wrapped around his injured finger.
"Obviously it’s not something I want," he said. "I’ve never been an injury-prone type of guy, so I’ll just try to stay positive through this. It’s a minor setback right now."
Burke left the game with 5:20 left in the first quarter. He returned with 9:25 remaining in the second quarter, with the Jazz already trailing, 29-19. He left for good with 1:51 to play in the half.
Asked why he returned to the game and tried playing with what turned out to be a fractured finger, Burke said, "It looked pretty bad when I looked at it. But we popped it back in place and I thought I could get back out there. But it was too tough to dribble the ball and pass it."
In Burke’s absence, John Lucas III played 20 minutes against the Clippers. He finished with nine points and three assists on 3-for-6 shooting.
Free agent Scott Machado played the fourth quarter at point guard. He missed three shots and failed to score, but he handed out four assists.
Burke’s injury is "a significant blow for us," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It’s unfortunate for us to get the news that it is a fracture. … We’ll see what the specialist says but it’s a downer for us."
Depending on the length of Burke’s absence, the Jazz will almost certainly be in the market for a free-agent point guard. Corbin hinted as much in his postgame press conference.
"We’ll see," he said. "We’ll put our heads together tomorrow. We’ve got scouts out there. We’ll see what’s available. We’ve got some guys here. … We’ll see what gives us a chance."
Oddly, Corbin decided to use his start young core players Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Burke as a group for the first time in the preseason against the Clippers.
Hayward, who is 23 and entering his fourth year in the NBA, is the oldest and most experienced of those starters.
Unfortunately for Utah, as Corbin noted later, the experiment "didn’t last long."
Los Angeles jumped to a quick 14-7 lead before Jeremy Evans replaced Favors, who picked up two early fouls. One minute later, Burke was injured.
"We weren’t playing our best basketball," Corbin said. "But I wanted to see them against their best group. This is a good team. That’s why I wanted to see it from the beginning of the game."
L.A. ended up shooting 55.1 percent against the defenseless Jazz.
Byron Mullens scored 15 points, Blake Griffin added 12 and Paul finished with six points and 10 assists in only 24 minutes.
Richard Jefferson led the Jazz, who shot 28 percent in the first half and 36 percent for the game, with 13 points. Burks added 12, including nine of Utah’s 15 in the first quarter.