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NEW ORLEANS - Coming off a very good win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, the Jazz were just 48 minutes from winning their first two games of this brutal back-to-back-to-back road trip.
Hornets 86, Jazz 80
This wasn't 48 minutes against the Miami Heat or even 48 minutes against the six win Washington Wizards. It was 48 minutes against the four win New Orleans Hornets, who were playing without Emeka Okafor (sore left knee), Jarrett Jack (left knee bruise), Jason Smith (concussion) and Carl Landry (MCL sprain).
If ever there was a guaranteed win staring you in the face, it was this game.
|Birthdate||July 20, 1991|
Except that the Hornets fought for every loose ball, capitalized on 18 Jazz turnovers and sat back and watched the Jazz settle for outside jumpers.
Jazz assistant coach Scott Layden said at halftime on the ROOT television broadcast, "The one stat that jumps off the stat sheet is New Orleans shot 14 free-throws and we shot one. We can be more aggressive taking it to the basket."
That one free-throw was not the fault of bad refs; it was the fault of the Jazz playing timidly.
That brings us to Alec Burks. The rookie from Colorado had a simple scouting report coming out of college. Incredibly athletic, gets to the free-throw line, suspect jump shot.
There are a couple things that translate well from the college game to the pro game; rebounding and free-throw attempts.
In the final minutes of the 3rd quarter, with the Jazz trailing by 17, Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin put Burks into the game. In the past 5 games, Burks had only played 5 minutes.
Burks made the most of his opportunity. Not through high-flying dunks or incredible ball-handling, but through the most boring and effective way. He got to the line. Then he got to the line some more. Then he got to the line even more.
"I'm aggressive; I get to the free-throw line. I think that's the reason I got here (NBA) with my ability to get to the rim," said Burks.
In his first 9 minutes, Burks shot 10 free-throws by constantly attacking the basket. The Jazz shot only 23 free-throws as a team.
As teammates settled for jump shots or lingered on the wing, Burks, maniacally, drove to the hoop. He took some hard fouls, but he got up and continued to attack the rim. It was the type of plays that have made Manu Ginobili an All-Star.
Burks only ended up with 9 points. He hit 7 of those 10 freebies, but his impact changed the game. The Jazz cut the lead to 5, but couldn't complete the comeback.
Although the Jazz came up short, don't be surprised if Corbin bypasses some veterans Tuesday night in Oklahoma City to free Alec Burks.
The Jazz will need to rebound from this terrible loss as they take on the West's best in the Thunder.
"We're a tough team; I don't think people give us credit for how tough we are. We're going to bounce back and we're going to be ready," said Burks.