9:00 PM ET, December 30, 2013
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
SALT LAKE CITY -- Trey Burke figured he had just enough time to make the move he'd been wanting to use all game.
"I'd been taking that 8-foot jump shot pretty much all night and I wasn't really driving all the way that much," Burke said. "So, in my mind, I thought he was going to go for my shot and contest it. I hit him with the hesitation and got a better shot."
"He milked the clock very well, was able to attack and made a big shot for us," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He continues to learn lessons and get better every night."
And as Burke improves, so do the Jazz, who are 5-1 when he scores 20 points or more.
"It was a grind-out game and Trey made the critical play there at the end," teammate Gordon Hayward said. "Playing in tight games like this helps you grow as players and as a team. We need all the experience we can get."
Matched against another 6-foot-1 sparkplug in Walker, Burke faked a shot, hesitated and drove the right side of the lane, releasing the ball just before the shot clock buzzer to give the Jazz a three-point lead in the closing moments of an often listless game.
The ball took flight just in time over Walker's outstretched arms.
"Kemba had taken a look at the shot clock on the other end, so he knew I didn't have much time," Burke said. "It was a matter of me staying poised because I only had 1 1/2 or 2 seconds to make my move."
The Jazz held Charlotte to 37 percent shooting and spoiled Jefferson's return to Utah, where he spent the last three seasons.
"I just missed some easy shots, especially the one I missed when we were down one. We dug ourselves in a deep hole and had to fight all the way back," said Jefferson, who was 8 of 23 from the field.
The Bobcats, unable to sustain any offensive efficiency most of the game, suddenly found some accuracy in the fourth quarter. Walker scored five straight points in a 7-0 run that brought Charlotte to 63-60, but then missed a couple of jump shots.
"We were kind of moving slowly all game. But we made a push there at the start of the fourth quarter to get us right there at the end of the game," Henderson said.
After seven misses to start the final period, Burke finally scored for the Jazz on a jumper from the wing. Josh McRoberts' acrobatic tip-in, however, tied the game at 65 with 5:58 to play.
The Bobcats took their first lead since the first quarter at 77-76 after Ramon Sessions was blocked from behind by Hayward on a fast break and Walker put the ball back up and in.
Hayward then drove and bounced a pass to Favors for a dunk. After Jefferson came up short on a baby hook, Burke drove the lane and just beat the shot clock with his key layup to give the Jazz an 80-77 lead.
The Jazz clinched the game at the line on successive rebound fouls, with Favors making one and Hayward converting a pair with 2.8 seconds left. Jefferson made a half-court shot at the buzzer for the final margin.
After a 1-14 start to the season, the Jazz have become healthier and Burke has brought some stability to Utah's offense. The Jazz are 6-5 in their last 11 games.
On the other side, the Bobcats have been close in several games but unable to close them out. Their last six losses have come by an average of 3.3 points.
"It's a make-or-miss league and they made it and we missed. That's happened to us the last three nights. We've gotten good shots by the right people and if we're going to win, they're going to have to go in the basket," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said.
The Bobcats have lost four of five overall and now face three more Western Conference teams, against whom they are 0-4 on the road.
Walker has shot 16 of 54 in the past three games but seemed determined to make a difference down the stretch. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, but Burke countered on the other end.
"The other players and Coach told me to stay aggressive and to pick and choose my spots," Burke said. "I really didn't let those early misses discourage me today. I continued to attack and keep the defense on their heels."
The Jazz beat the Bobcats 88-85 on Dec. 21 in a very similar matchup in which both teams seemed to be going through the motions for much of the game.
Jefferson received a warm round of applause during introductions, greeted all of the scorers' table personnel and hugged Jazz CEO Greg Miller in the front row. ... Hayward picked up two fouls in the first 4 minutes. ... Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, injured Dec. 3, had the cast removed from his left hand last week but has not been cleared to practice. ... The Jazz are 9-7 when Williams starts and 1-17 when he doesn't.
Around The Association
MVP: Trey Burke and Derrick Favors are co-MVPs on this night, both stepping up in the fourth quarter to close this one out. Burke had 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting, while Favors added 13 points, four rebounds, three blocks and a tremendous defensive night against Al Jefferson.
LVP: Jefferson made his return to Utah tonight, but he seemed to leave his dominance on the plane. That and Derrick Favors' defense led "Big Al" to a 8-for-23 shooting night and two huge misses in the final seconds.
Defining moment: Jefferson blew his chance from four feet away in the face of a couple of defenders with 40 seconds to play, leading to a floater from Burke as the shot clock expired on the other end to give Utah a three-point lead that wouldn't be scratched.