Trey Burke beat the shot clock with a driving layup in the final minute and the Utah Jazz made three of four free throws to seal an 83-30 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night in Salt Lake City.
The Bobcats had outscored the Jazz 24-13 in the fourth quarter to turn a 10-point deficit into a one-point lead after Kemba Walker scored a layup with 1:15 left. But the Jazz responded as Derrick Favors flushed a dunk after a nifty pass from Gordon Hayward. Former Jazzman Al Jefferson then missed a close-range shot, setting up Burke's slash to the basket to put the Jazz up 80-77.
Neither team shot well, as both offenses sit at the bottom of the league in efficiency. The low-scoring affair was close to start, as the Bobcats took an early 7-2 lead, but balanced scoring from the Jazz led to a 21-21 tie to end the first quarter.
More balanced scoring from Hayward, Burke, Alec Burks and Marvin Williams helped the Jazz outscore the Bobcats 21-13 in the second quarter, giving the Jazz a 42-34 halftime lead.
Walker, Jefferson and Gerald Henderson kept the Bobcats in the game in the second half as they chipped away at the Jazz lead, even after Burke hit back-to-back shots to stretch the lead to 14. The Jazz rookie never lost his nerve as the Bobcats drew closer, and free throws from Hayward and Favors made Al Jefferson's buzzer-beating heave irrelevant.
Burke led all scorers with 21 points. Alec Burks had 14, and Marvin and Favors had 13 apiece. Henderson led the Bobcats with 19 points, while Big Al and Kemba Walker chipped in 18 each.
- If you're not loving Trey Burke, you're not watching. Yeah, he still misses a few shots he should probably make. But he shot 8-17 tonight, 3-6 from long distance, and most importantly, he had five assists to only one turnover. (His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.74 is already 14th in the league, by the way.) Nine of the Jazz's 10 wins have come with Trey starting at point guard. As he goes, so goes this Jazz team.
- No player has benefited more from Burke's return than Alec Burks. With the ball-handling pressure off him, he's been able to do what he does best: create offense. Burks was an efficient 6-12 tonight, and he was an active rebounder with six boards. He's such a multi-talented player, and if he continues getting minutes, even in a bench role, he can really help spark the Jazz offensively.
- Big Al's return to Salt Lake City was mostly harmless, and that's thanks to solid defense from Favors and Enes Kanter. Yeah, Jefferson punked his former proteges a couple of times -- he's too skilled an offensive player not to -- but Favors' physicality frustrated Al down the stretch. Aside from his last-second heave, Al was only 7-22 for 15 points. That's solid defensive work.
- Favors looked decent on defense, but his offensive game was mostly poor. He did have the dunk that gave the Jazz the lead for good, and he hit a big jumper off a fumbled loose ball earlier in the fourth quarter, but only grabbing four rebounds and turning the ball over six times isn't going to cut it.
- Like Favors, Kanter played okay defensively, grabbing seven rebounds but he only got 14 minutes of court time and scored just four points. He's far too gifted an offensive player to settle for that. Kanter also had a couple of sloppy fouls that broke the Jazz's rhythm. I'm not sure what's going on with our Big Turkey. I feel like he should get more minutes to work through this slump, but he doesn't really look great when he's out there.
- Richard Jefferson. 40 minutes. 3-10 shooting. Ugh. I know, he hit a couple of big three-pointers, and he doesn't really deserve the hate he gets from the Jazz fan base right now, but I'm sorry: 40 minutes is just too much. I tweeted to Yucca Man during the game that RJ frustrates me because he plays JUST well enough that, as soon as I think there's no possible way he can stay on the court, he hits a big shot, or gets a steal, or does just ONE thing well enough to stay out there. Ah well.
Next up: the Milwaukee Bucks visit SLC on Thursday.