The Salt Lake City Stars had some added star power Wednesday night.
Utah Jazz shooting guard Alec Burks had 13 points and five rebounds, and point guard Raul Neto recorded 14 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds for the D-League team in a 129-94 win over the Grand Rapids Drive at Salt Lake Community College.
With the Jazz in town and their schedule clear for two consecutive nights, the team assigned Burks and Neto to the minor league club for a night, hoping to get them some much needed game time.
"I was happy to play," said Neto, who started 53 games for the Jazz last season but has been out of the rotation this year. "At the first moment, it was tough for a guy who played almost all last season as a starting point guard in the NBA and coming to the D-League, but I think I was ready. I'm happy that I cam here and played a lot of minutes and played really well."
Burks didn't dazzle with his shooting Wednesday, going 5 of 17 from the floor, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range. The guard attributed the rust to a long layoff, as he's worked his way back from an ankle injury that cost him most of last season and the first half of this one. More importantly, however, Burks said he feels he is "back to where I was before I got hurt."
"Yeah. I'm fast," Burks said, when it was suggested that his acceleration seemed as good as ever. "… That's what I guess [the Jazz] wanted to see.
Burks added, "When I found out my leg was good and steady and stable, I knew I was going to be back, as aggressive as I was."
Neto told reporters he would be willing to play for the Stars again, and said he might even ask for the assignment if the NBA schedule allows for it. Burks said he believed it would likely be a one-time visit.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder called the Stars a "great tool" for players in need of playing time.
"I think the stigma that's attached to it at times is unfortunate. … No one's sent 'down' to the D-League. They're assigned, or whatever the case may be," he said. "To me, it's a great tool and one that hopefully we'll continue to use, not just for rehabilitation, but for development."
Aaron Falk and Kurt Kragthorpe