Burke shines for Jazz in first home start



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SALT LAKE CITY — The effects of not having a consistent point guard in the Utah Jazz lineup have been well-publicized.

A lack of direction in the offense, a predictable confusion when running the floor, little to no ball movement — the Jazz have struggled without a leader to be a cog on offense.

However, insert Trey Burke — Utah’s lottery point guard from Michigan. Burke, who has missed much of the season to this point with a broken finger, started for the first time at home against the Chicago Bulls and led the Jazz to an 89-83 overtime win over Chicago.

“I thought he (Burke) played well,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “It was an overtime game, and we had the heads-up to leave him in there, so that was good — to keep him on the floor.

Burke scored 14 points and had six rebounds and four assists. He also hit a critical 3-point shot in the overtime period that helped the Jazz outlast a Chicago team that outscored Utah 22-14 in the fourth quarter.

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“He made a big shot for us, so that’s a great thing,” Corbin said. “He came off, hit a big three, and gave us a little cushion there.”

Burke played 34 minutes in the game — something that teammate Richard Jefferson highly endorsed.

“If that’s what he wants, give him the minutes,” said Jefferson, who scored 15 points. “He’s good, and he’s only going to get better. … He’s doing a lot of good things out there, and you can see why people around this organization are excited to have him.”

While Burke showed fans why Jazz management graded him so highly in the draft, the rookie said he has a few areas that need to be improved upon.

“Coming off pick and rolls, and not making the right read; coming the pick and rolls, and sometimes passing when I could have shot — and, I think that’s just a feel,” Burke said. “Coach Corbin got on me a little bit about that, on not rushing.”

Corbin also said Burke had areas that can improve only through experience.

“He’s got to learn, going through the process,” Corbin said. “We’ll watch this and talk about, and try to talk him through some situations. But, you’ve got to go through it.”

Again, Monday’s start was Burke’s first in EnergySolutions Arena, and he said he was impressed with the Utah crowd.

“The crowd was great,” he said. “Before I came here, everyone was telling me we have, if not the best, one of the best crowds, and they showed it tonight. Even though we’ve been struggling, they came out and supported us at a high level, and that was another reason why we won.”

In retrospect, Burke said the Chicago win is an experience he can build off of.

“It’s definitely a confidence-builder,” he said. “I think each and every game — we’re finding out how to play with each other at a higher level. We moved the ball really well on the offensive end, and we did a good job getting stops when we needed to.”

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Jon Oglesby

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