Utah Jazz fall to Pelicans in Burke’s debut
By Aaron Falk
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Nov 20 2013 10:22PM
New Orleans • Trey Burke stood just outside the boundary lines, carefully tucking in his No. 3 jersey, waiting to check in for the first time in his NBA career.
"Just going to the scorer’s table," he said, "it was like, ‘Wow. I’m really here.’"
If the Utah Jazz are to be rebuilt as winners, then Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans, a 105-98 defeat and the Jazz’s 12th loss in 13 games, will have to be remembered in future years for Burke’s pro debut — an introduction delayed until now because of a busted finger.
The rookie point guard recorded 11 points, one assist, one steal and no turnovers in his first 12 minutes of the year.
When Burke checked in with 4:18 left in the first quarter, the Jazz and Pelicans were entrenched in a sluggish stretch of turnovers and missed shots, with Utah trailing 11-9. Burke, the ninth overall pick, told reporters earlier in the day that he did not intend to "do too much" in his first outing as a professional. But with the ball in his hands for the first time, courtesy of a defensive rebound he corralled himself, Burke blew past his defender for a layup to tie the game.
A few moments later he drove past Brian Roberts and Lou Amundson for another.
His lone assist came on a perfectly timed pick and roll, hitting Derrick Favors as he rolled to the rim for two of his 13 points. Favors also had 11 rebounds as he notched his sixth double-double of the season for the Jazz.
"It felt good out there," Burke said. "Just trying to get the pace of the game, trying to get my wind back up. I think those are the biggest areas. Obviously, it was a loss, which is unfortunate. We hate losing."
After suffering a pair of lopsided defeats to the Golden State Warriors, the Jazz left New Orleans Arena lamenting a missed opportunity to pick up their second win of the year. Trailing by four coming out of halftime, Jazz point guard John Lucas III hit a trio of 3-pointers early in the third to give Utah a lead.
The Jazz pushed their advantage as high as six, but New Orleans responded.
Anthony Davis, the Pelicans’ emerging superstar, had a game-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight blocks.
But the 6-foot-10 Ryan Anderson, who missed last week’s Jazz win in Salt Lake City due to a broken toe, might have made an even bigger difference. Anderson scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans improved to 5-6 on the year.
"Ryan Anderson came off the bench and gave them a spark," Lucas said. "You can’t give that guy an inch of space because he has a clip on him."
The Jazz got eight points apiece off the bench from forward Jeremy Evans, making his season debut after missing time with a rotator cuff injury, and Alec Burks, back with the second unit after a three-game stint as the team’s starting point guard.
But Utah surely missed forward Marvin Williams, whose outside shooting could have helped space the floor and whose defense might have matched up better with Anderson.
It was a night to forget for Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward, whose 1-of-17 shooting effort was the worst in franchise history.
"For whatever reason, they just didn’t fall tonight," he said. "Pretty frustrating. If I would have hit two or three more shots, we probably would have won the game. But I missed 16 of them."
Hayward finished with six points, six rebounds and a career-high 11 assists.
For Burke, it was certainly a promising introduction. He added a step-back jumper and a straightaway 3 to his résumé in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, he said his surgically repaired finger felt a little sore but fine.
It was the loss that concerned him.
"The main goal is to turn this thing around," he said. "We got out to a rough start, but in this league you have 82 games. You can learn. I felt like tonight we could have won the game. It came down to the last 10 minutes of the game, but we’ll learn from it. It’s kind of a repeat thing that we continue to say, but we’re learning."