The Jazz got a huge lift from an unexpected source Wednesday night.
Alec Burks, who has been struggling to get meaningful minutes lately, scored eight points in the first 4:44 of the fourth quarter to help Utah secure a 104-99 win over New Orleans.
Burks played 26 minutes in Monday's 125-80 loss to Houston, but most of those came because the game was so lopsided. In the Jazz's previous five games, Burks had scored seven points on 2-for-8 shooting in only 33 minutes.
That all changed against the Hornets.
"We need his energy," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We need his attacking ability. He came off and attacked the basket and put pressure on them to stop us at the rim. ...
"He can make perimeter shots, but he's really good at putting the ball on the floor [because] he's so aggressive and athletic."
The Jazz owned a tenuous 78-75 lead when Burks opened the final quarter with a steal and two free throws. After adding another free throw on Utah's next possession, Burks stepped into a 3-pointer that bumped the Jazz's lead to 85-77 with 10:22 left.
"He came into the game and set the tone by attacking the basket and getting fouled," said Paul Millsap. "It set the tone for the rest of the quarter for us."
Asked about the energy Burks seemed to generate, Millsap said, "It's very important for us and it's contagious. It has to be. ...
"When a guy comes off the bench, attacks the basket and runs like that, our other guys have to get involved, too."
Utah owned an 88-80 lead when Burks went to the basket and again was fouled. His two free throws with 7:16 left gave the Jazz what turned out to be their biggest lead, 90-80.
"[I] just tried to pick up the energy and keep fighting and it happened," Burks said. "We got the game. That's all that matters. Anything else that happened during the game, it happened. I'm just glad we won."
According to Corbin, Burks can occasionally get himself into trouble by playing too quickly, although that wasn't a problem against New Orleans.
"We just have to get him to relax slow down sometimes," Corbin said. "But he'll get better with that as he gets a little more experience."