The Utah Jazz embarked on their annual pre-Holiday five-game road trip. As has become something of a habit, the Jazz won half of their games. This time however, the games they lost were in embarrassing fashion and the wins came in close contests. While it is good to see the Jazz are improving enough to beat lower caliber teams, the Jazz would also like to be respectable against the better teams. The Jazz will hope that the blowout losses become increasingly less frequent.
Since Trey Burke has returned to the lineup, things have certainly improved. Then again, it would have been hard not to improve upon the 1-14 start to the season. Since then, the Jazz are one game off of .500. The improvement is coming specifically on the offensive end, where Trey is leading the charge to create more assists and decrease turnovers, increasing the overall offensive rating. However, Utah’s defense is still the worst in the league and actually getting worse. Improvement will depend on if the Jazz can handle defenses keying in on Trey Burke, and whether they can somehow improve team defense.
Monday, Dec. 16: Miami Heat 117 – 94 Utah Jazz
The final score looks about right considering the Jazz were going up against the defending champions. What the final score doesn’t reflect is that the Jazz actually led at halftime and played quite well until the third quarter. After the half, Miami did what they are always capable of and unleashed their offensive fury, scoring 70 second-half points. Alec Burks had a terrific game, scoring 31 points, dishing seven assists and snagging four steals. Burks’ performance was much needed, as Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward went a combined 3-for-16 from the field.
Wednesday, Dec. 18: Utah Jazz 86 – 82 Orlando Magic
The Jazz again outplayed their opponent in the first half and had to fight to keep it in the second. This time, the other team didn’t have LeBron James or Dwayne Wade. Utah was able to hold on in this matchup of high profile rookies. Trey Burke undoubtedly got the better for Victor Oladipo in this one, scoring 30 points with eight assists and seven rebounds. Burke was able to follow up his worst game (three points, four assists against Miami) strongly, and lead his team to victory.
Friday, Dec. 20: Atlanta Hawks 118 – 85 Utah Jazz
Not many positives to take away from this one for the Jazz. Utah was outscored in every quarter and spent much of the game down around 30 points. Trey Burke continued his week-long roller coaster ride, following up his season’s best performance with his worst (again). This time, Trey was only able to score two points with only three assists. Enes Kanter was one of the few bright spots for the Jazz in this one, recording a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Additional salt in the wound: Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll, Jazz players just last year, were very instrumental in Utah’s loss.
Saturday, Dec. 21: Utah Jazz 88 – 85 Charlotte Bobcats
Utah’s reunion tour continued on Saturday, as the Jazz took on former center Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats. The effects of the road trip made itself evident to start this game, as Utah started cold and fell behind early. Riding a strong third quarter, and another bounce-back game from Trey Burke, the Jazz squeaked out a win in this one to finish another week at .500. Burke ended up with 20 points and four assists, while four other Jazzmen finished with double digit points.
Alec Burks: This spot may have gone to Trey Burke for his 30- and 20-point nights, but as discussed, he also had the two worst performances of his career this week. Burks was Utah’s most consistent player, scoring 30, 13, 13 and 11. Burks has continued his improvement, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and solidifying himself as one of Utah’s most consistent scoring threats.
Singin’ the Blues
Gordon Hayward: Hayward very briefly broke out of his shooting slump, only to sink back in again. Hayward went 2-for-8, 6-for-15, 4-for-14, and 3-for-11 for an ugly 31 percent. To make matters worse, Hayward shot only about 25 percent on his 17 three-point attempts for the week. It’s been difficult to watch Hayward recently, as he’s taking very poor shots as well as missing his open ones. Tyrone Corbin may need to adjust Hayward’s role in the offense soon, as Hayward is too heavily relied upon to be shooting so poorly.