Tonight the Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks in a great comeback win 100-94. The Jazz started the 4th quarter down 6 points but held the Mavs to just 14 fourth quarter points to get the win. It was a great atmosphere in Energy Solutions Arena which is nothing new, Jazz fans were excited, loud and crazy propelling their team to a win. Something new did happen tonight that Jazz fans weren’t used to and for most fans it was something we’ve all been waiting for. Coach Corbin, in a bold move, played Alec Burks at point guard to close out the game.
Jazz fans have been dreaming of how the talented 4 young guys would look on the floor together. Over the last few games we have seen that line up off and on. Tonight during the second quarter we saw this line up in action for an extended period of time. The 4 played well with lots of energy and Hayward leading the way scoring a career high 15 points in the second quarter. Kanter and Favors work well defensively together and Alec Burks can get to the free throw line seemingly at will. At one point Favors and Kanter were matched up against the big men of Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand. The two Maverick veterans exposed the young Jazz big men which hopefully was a great learning experience for them.
Alec Burks looked like a better player ever minute he spent out on the floor. He started off fairly slow missing a few shots but settled in, going to his strength, and attacking the basket. He played great defense all game and you could see his confidence grow out on the floor during the game. Late in the game Al Jefferson took a hook shot that got swatted back into Alec’s hands behind the 3 point line with the shot clock running out. Burks took the 3 with confidence and hit it to tie the game up at 86 a piece and completely swung the momentum in the Jazz favor. Burks finished the rest of the game at point, handling the ball confidently and helping the team to another home win.
This was a bold move by Corbin going with Burks to finish the game. He has two veteran point guards in Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson who have played in lots of games and pressure situations. Despite having this experience on the roster, Corbin elects to go with the young Alec Burks. It’s an interesting decision that seemed to be the right one, the Jazz won the game but even more valuable was the experience and confidence that Alec Burks got from this game. Burks hit a big shot, took the ball to the hoop and got fouled several times in late shot clock situations and was a huge part of the Jazz winning this game. Unlike Tinsley and Watson, Burks looked like a serious threat with the ball in his hands. It doesn’t seem like Earl or Jamaal can beat their men off the dribble when in the game as most point guards are much faster then both of the old veteran players. Burks on the other hand can burn by many players in this league to get to the hoop. This added a huge problem for the Mavericks defense late in the game and helped free up other players. If Burks can keep up the good play then he may be the best option the Jazz have at the point guard position going forward while Mo Williams is sidelined with injury.
Moving to the star of the night for the Jazz, Gordon Hayward. I have, as well as many Jazz fans, been a huge supporter of Gordon Hayward. I honestly believe we have a future All-Star in Hayward and performances like tonight make it hard for anyone to argue otherwise. Gordon fished the game with 27 points, which was the second highest scoring performance of his career. He also finished with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. One of Hayward’s 2 blocks came in the 4th quarter and really got the crowd going.
Hayward really carried the Jazz through this game hitting big shots in times the Jazz needed it the most. Gordon shot 4 of 5 from 3 point land tonight where he has been shooting lights out as of late. Hayward is 14 of his last 23 from 3 for a blistering 61% and while I am praising Gordon Hayward here I may as well mention that he didn’t commit a single turnover tonight which is something he had struggled with in past games. Confidence seems to be building and building for Gordon and hopefully we can see more performances like we did tonight in the future out of him.
Tonight was such a huge game for this team and the younger guys. I was encouraged more then ever by the young players and am convinced they are all going to play a huge part in the future of this team. There are lots of fans who have wanted the young guys to be given more playing time and see what they can do, even if it means a worse record for this season. I now think that the Jazz are a better team with the young guys on the floor. In my opinion they all are ready for a much bigger roll on this team. Hayward, Favors, Kanter and Burks all have tons of potential and we have no idea how good any of them could be with starter minutes over a season. It seems to be clear that the current Jazz team doesn’t have the ability to be an elite team in the western conference with the way it is currently constructed. If the Jazz are going to be an elite team they are going to have to make some changes. Trading away either Millsap or Jefferson to bring in more draft picks or a young point guard would, in my opinion, be the best move this team could make for its future. It would allow more minutes for our two young bigs and hopefully at that point the Jazz would let Burks and Hayward loose and see what they can do. The Jazz have put together a good group of players but at this point IT’S TIME to let the young guns play!