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Utah Jazz’s Bench mob led by Alec Burks keyed Game 2 victory

The return of the return of the return of AB has been one of the biggest stories of the postseason.

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jae Crowder, Alec Burks, Dante Exum and Raul Neto played a combined 81 minutes as the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets in Wednesday’s Game 2 to even the series 1-1 going back to Salt Lake City. The Jazz bench mob combined for 41 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. The only negative +/- of the bunch was Neto’s minus-2 in 7:36 on the floor.

When that production is compared to Houston’s bench unit, it’s clear that Utah’s depth won that game for the Jazz. The Rockets’ bench of Eric Gordon, Luc Mbah a Moute, Gerald Green, Ryan Anderson and Nene Hilario played 70 minutes and mustered just 22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. The only positive +/- of the group was Anderson’s plus-1 in 6:53 on the floor.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Burks

22 Minutes

17 Points (7-11 FG)

4 Rebounds

6 Assists

1 Steal

1 Block

The most surprising development of the playoffs thus far has been the resurgence of Alec Burks. When he entered for the final 2 minutes and change of Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder and dropped 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting, everyone brushed it under the rug. To suggest that Burks, who had largely fallen out of the rotation for the last 20 games of the season due to poor play, could make a positive impact this postseason seemed like madness.

On the contrary, Burks re-entered the rotation with the exit of Ricky Rubio to hamstring soreness in Game 6 against OKC and has made it clear he’s ready to ball. He’s been an integral part to the Jazz’s playoff success. He’s had a positive +/- in each of the last 3 games, and in Wednesday’s win he led the bench unit in points, assists, steals, blocks, true shooting percentage (69%) and net rating (plus-20).

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jae Crowder

34 Minutes

15 Points (5-10 FG)

10 Rebounds

1 Assist

After a rough first round against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jae Crowder has come on strong in the Western Conference Semifinals. Against OKC, Crowder had a 45% true shooting percentage and a net rating of -14. He averaged 9.3 points on 9.5 shots per game and shot just 29% from 3.

Against Houston thus far he’s got a 70% true shooting percentage and a net rating of plus-7. He’s averaging 18 points on 11.5 shots per game and shooting 61.5% from 3. Maybe it’s a matchup thing, but here’s to hoping we get a lot more of that.

Dante Exum

18 Minutes

9 Points (3-7 FG)

4 Rebounds

2 Assists

Exum Island is getting full, y’all. There is limited space available. Dante made an impact on the offense Wednesday, dropping two 3-pointers and that thunderous dunk, but the real story here (and the biggest reason he was plus-10 on the floor) was his defense on James Harden.

If the Jazz are going to make noise and seriously challenge the Rockets for a trip to the Western Conference Finals, they’ll need continued production from these players off the bench.