Despite a halftime lead and a breakout performance from Alec Burks, the Utah Jazz were outscored 70-44 in the second half en route to a 117-94 loss to the Miami Heat Monday night in Miami.
Burks scored 31 points on 12-17 shooting and added seven assists, three rebounds and four steals in the losing effort. Together with Enes Kanter, Burks kept the Jazz in the game in the second quarter, scoring 14 first-half points and helping the Jazz to a 50-47 halftime lead.
But the Heat began the third quarter on a 15-3 run, as the Jazz scored just one field goal in the first four and a half minutes. Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward combined for just 3-16 from the floor on the evening, missing both open and contested looks and allowing the Heat to run the fast break for quick points.
Burks hit a three-pointer to draw the score to 83-74 early in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz would get no closer.
LeBron James had 30 points, nine assists and nine rebounds to lead the Heat. James appeared to twist his ankle in the third quarter but later returned to the game.
Derrick Favors had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Kanter added 14 points and eight boards. Burks was the only other Jazz player in double figures.
- Alec Burks.
- Alec Burks.
- Alec Burks.
...okay, there were other positives (strong offensive play from Kanter and Favors, especially, and only 12 minutes for Richard Jefferson), but holy crap. Burks swagged his way all over the court tonight, hitting from outside (2-4) and distributing (seven assists) on top of his usual array of drives, floaters, and contorting layups. An unlikely lineup of Diante Garrett, Brandon Rush, Jeremy Evans and Enes Kanter joined Burks on the court for the Jazz's second-quarter run, and Burks was the creative maestro that made everything happen.
Burks is interesting in that he's best with the ball in his hands, but he's not a facilitator; he does better when he isn't the only primary ball handler. Both Trey Burke and Diante Garrett have been good for Alec in that regard, freeing him to do swaggy things while not having to worry about also being the offensive safety valve. And his offense CAN create for others -- his assists tonight prove that. He's just better in a solid two-guard backcourt. Which makes sense, since he's, you know, a two-guard.
Anyway. Well done, young Borkles. More like this, please.
- I really hope Trey Burke figures out his shot soon. I'm not worried, exactly, but 1-8 shooting performances do nothing to allay my concerns, and he's gotta be able to knock down open outside shots when Burks or Hayward penetrate, at least. Burke still runs the pick-and-roll beautifully, but if he doesn't become more of a shooting and scoring threat, it'll make it easier on opponents to double down on the roll man.
- Hayward had a sloppy game, with five turnovers and just 2-8 shooting, 0-4 from long range. He seemed bothered by the Heat's aggressive defense, whether he was checked by LeBron or Shane Battier or someone else. G-Time has had four strong games in a row before this one, against the champs, so it's hardly cause for concern. But I'd like to see more toughness.
- While Brandon Rush was on the floor with Burks for the big second-quarter run, he did very little to contribute to it, with goose eggs across the box score except for one rebound in 21 minutes. Rush was such a dynamic player before his injury. I know he's still playing himself into game shape, but that player may be gone forever. The guy out there tonight was a non-entity. Hope you've got more in you, Brando.
The Christmas road trip continues Wednesday in Orlando.