1. Alec Burks can score and amaze.
Alec Burks was Utah’s best player tonight, scoring a career high 34 points in the 5th start of his career. First of all, he got the shots around the basket that he likes: 13 of his 19 shots came within 8 feet of the hoop. Because of his athleticism, and excellent finishing ability, he made 10 of those 13.
Part of this is because Denver doesn’t really have defensive presence in the middle, nor do they have a stopper guard. As a result, guys like Alec are able to get what they want off the dribble. As Brian Shaw said, “Defense, for the most part, tonight was nonexistent… Alec Burks just won every individual matchup that we put on him. It started with Randy Foye and then down the line.”
But perhaps the bigger part of Alec’s 34 points is because Alec Burks is really good at scoring, especially finishing at the basket. Richard Jefferson explained the experience of watching Alec Burks:
“There are some terrible, terrible shots. I have no idea. He’s just like, ‘Man, I missed some layups”, and I’m like ‘Man, you made some layups!’ When you get this far in this league, everybody has a unique ability. They have something that makes them special. And his ability to finish in traffic and in the paint, and his size and his ability to handle the ball is unique.”
Or, as Trey Burke pointed out, “He didn’t make one three, so that’s the impressive part about it to me. Having 34 points without a 3 pointer is kind of crazy to me.”
2. Utah coughed up the ball only once in the first 32 minutes tonight.
That’s pretty ridiculous. 1 turnover in the first half ties an all-time Jazz team record, last accomplished in 2011 against Oklahoma City. That was the biggest single reason for the Jazz’s offensive explosion in the first 32 minutes; by the time Marvin Williams committed the team’s second turnover, they had scored 89 points, on pace for 133 in the game. The Jazz were shooting well, sure, but not amazingly: the first half FG% of 51% is a good-but-not-great percentage, and the team had made just 5 threes. Instead, they won on sheer volume: they took 47 shots from the field and 18 free throws in that season-high first half.
This is a young team with a rookie point guard, and they’ve had some turnover problems early in the year. So why the success tonight? I asked Trey Burke to explain why.
Me: “So you had one turnover in the first two and a half quarters. Dawha? How is that possible?”
Trey: “The coaches did a really great job of scouting. They scouted their last game out in Denver, knowing their rotations, knowing what they like to do coming off the pick and roll. We executed. We knew what man would be open on certain plays, and we took advantage of it.”
Me: “So you watched film and knew that X defender was going to be rotating to Y place?”
Trey: “Yeah, absolutely. They made an adjustment in the second half: they started trapping the pick and roll, and that’s when the turnovers came. But in the first half, we were coming off that screen, and they were up on it, but they weren’t trapping, so that diagonal skip pass was always there. We made the play, and whoever got the ball made another play, so it all worked out.”
That was the biggest difference tonight: the Jazz’s scouting report, and that the players paid close attention to it, allowed Utah to play mistake-free basketball for two-thirds of the game. Credit: everyone.
3. Dan Roberts should come up with a signature call for Trey Burke’s threes.
I love Dan Roberts. The in-game voice of the Utah Jazz for 34 years (since the franchise first moved to Utah), in many ways, Dan Roberts is the last original Jazz personality around the franchise. He’s one of the best in the business, and I hope he keeps announcing games forever: he brings both gravitas and excitement to his calls.
He’s been presented with a pretty unique opportunity for an announcer: a player named Trey, with the number 3 on his jersey, who makes three point shots with regularity. This seems like the perfect chance for Roberts to come up with a signature call: a clever combination of name and event that will stick with Trey for the rest of his Jazz career. At the moment, though, Roberts hasn’t found the exact phrase he likes. In this homestand, I’ve heard:
These are all not terrible, but its probably best if Dan chooses the most catchy and goes with that for the foreseeable future. Trey Burke will be making many threes in EnergySolutions Arena, and it would be great if he had a signature call to go with it.