SALT LAKE CITY—Never in Alec Burks’ career has he had a stretch like he’s had over the past three games.
After scoring a game-high 27 points Monday night in the Utah Jazz’s blowout victory over the Washington Wizards at Vivint Arena, Burks has scored at least 24 points in three consecutive contests for the first time since entering the NBA in 2011.
Over the course of the Jazz’s six-game winning streak, Burks is averaging 19.5 points per contest, but it’s the manner in which he’s contributing offensively that shows major progress in his game.
Given the nickname “Houdini” by Utah TV broadcaster Craig Bolerjack because of his creative finishes at the rim, Burks has been noticeably more in control as of late, opting for simpler moves to the basket or a pass to a teammate.
“The game’s slowed down a lot,” he said after the game Monday night. “I’m slowing down and making better reads now.”
Having posted 13 points through three quarters on Monday, Burks scored 14 in a row in the fourth for Utah.
“He’s a guy that deserves it,” said teammate Derrick Favors. “He’s been in and out of games for a couple years, been hurt. I’m happy for him. He’s out there back to the old AB, scoring, just working on his game, so I’m happy for him.”
While Jazz head coach Quin Snyder praised Burks’ improved efficiency and good shooting, he emphasized the fact that the Colorado product has been more engaged on the defensive end as of late.
“The biggest thing really, when you watch him defend, there’s just a real pride that he’s got right now on the defensive end,” Snyder said.
The soft-spoken Burks said he’s “trying to get better on that end,” a notion that has been noticed by one of Utah’s best wing defenders, Thabo Sefolosha.
“He seems really engaged right now and embracing the concepts of shifting early, helping, and I think that allows him with his athleticism to get in the passing lane and get steals and get out in transition,” Sefolosha said.
Snyder echoed the sentiment that Burks’ play defensively (he has 10 steals over the last six games) has helped fuel his offensive success.
“He’s a natural offensive player,” Snyder said. “When he’s shooting the ball well and making good decisions, I think a lot of that stems from the mindset that he has on the defensive end.”