Alec Burks ready for any role with the Jazz

Jan 14 2014 - 10:05pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A night after scoring a career-high 34 points in a surprisingly strong victory over the Denver Nuggets, Jazz guard Alec Burks said he's got no complaint with his role in coach Tyrone Corbin's rotation.

Sixth man? Starter? A little of both?

Whatever it takes, he said before Tuesday's practice.

"Whatever Coach Ty wants, I do," he said.

Burks, a third-year pro from Colorado, on Monday made his second consecutive start in place of injured teammate Gordon Hayward, who remains day-to-day with a hip injury. He made 13 of 19 shots from the field, none of which was a 3-pointer, and added five assists, three rebounds and a steal.

"The layups he was making, he was getting to the line he was making jump shots, he pretty much did the whole thing," teammate Brandon Rush said. "He had one of the best all-around games I've seen him have since I've been here."

Corbin said Burks has enough confidence in himself to be comfortable with who he is as a player. Although he hasn't always been satisfied with the shots Burks takes, Corbin has said he is pleased with what the 22-year-old brings to the offense.

"(He understands) who he is, what makes him good in this league," he said. "He's a young guy that's still learning how to play in this league and he's understanding what makes him good night in and night out."

Burks often speaks of his aggressive mindset on the court and Monday's game was an excellent indication of it. He took just one 3-point shot all night and yet was the most dominant offensive player on the floor.

"I feel like every time I step on the court I've got to be aggressive," he said after the game. "You never know."

Over his last 10 games Burks is averaging 12.5 points and shooting 46.3 percent from the field. If Hayward can't go in Wednesday's nationally-televised game at San Antonio, Burks is likely to make his fifth start of the season.

The Jazz (13-26) are on a three-game road trip. After tonight they'll make stops in Detroit on Friday and Minnesota on Saturday. They're 12-12 over their last 24 games, far better than their 1-14 start to the season.

Before getting hurt, Hayward turned in a 37-point performance in a victory over Oklahoma City and earlier in the season rookie point guard Trey Burke scored 30 in a victory in Orlando, Fla.

Starting center Derrick Favors has reached double figures in six straight games, including a 19-point, 15-rebound effort on Monday.

Although the Jazz are tied with the Sacramento Kings for the fewest wins in the Western Conference, Utah's young core seems to be coming together as the season reaches its midway point.

"I think we're coming along great," said Rush.

Although Hayward, Favors and Burke are starters, Burks' main role so far this season has been as sixth man. He said Tuesday he isn't frustrated by coming off the bench.

"It's not frustrating, it's what the team needs," he said.

Burks has seen action in all 39 games this season and is averaging better than 27 minutes a contest.

The 36 minutes he played on Monday was surpassed only by Burke, who played 37.

"He still plays starter minutes," Rush said. "It doesn't really matter if he starts or not. I think he's just more comfortable coming off the bench because he can come in and be that guy on the second unit (who provides immediate scoring)."

Said Burks: "Just whatever Ty needs. He needs me to be a spark off the bench, I'll do that, I'll do that to the best of my ability. That's what I've been trying to do."

Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, or at jburton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo.

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