SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Trey Burke said the Jazz ”felt disrespected” and took former teammate Enes Kanter’s critical comments about the organization personally.
Kanter denounced his old team during morning shootaround, but Burke helped the Jazz silence Kanter’s new club Saturday night.
Burke scored 22 points off the bench to lead the Jazz to a 94-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder traded for the center shortly before the deadline after he expressed his displeasure with being a part of the team.
The Jazz needed extra offense with Derrick Favors sidelined with back spasms and Burke provided it.
Burke played one of his most aggressive games of late, constantly driving the lane and putting pressure on the Thunder defense.
”Getting in the paint, it opens up things for all of us,” Burke said. ”It kind of breaks the defense down and allows us to get easy opportunities.”
The Thunder were poised for a blowout as Russell Westbrook scored 13 first-quarter points and Oklahoma City led by 16 early in the second quarter. Utah quieted Westbrook and outscored the Thunder 55-29 over the next quarter and a half to take a 10-point lead into the fourth.
Westbrook finished with 37 points, six assists and eight rebounds. Kanter had 18 and 11 rebounds as the Thunder’s lead over ninth-place New Orleans was cut to 2 1/2 games.
Gordon Hayward scored 17 and Rudy Gobert added 13 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.
Westbrook scored just four points combined in the second and third quarters, and that’s when the Jazz went on their run. He warmed back up in the fourth with 20 points and helped pull the Thunder within two, but it too little, too late.
”We let them off the hook,” Westbrook said. ”We just weren’t ready to play.
”We have to do a better job especially myself of taking care of the basketball.”
Thunder: Center Mitch McGary and Burke were teammates at Michigan during its run to the 2013 NCAA championship game, where the Wolverines lost to Louisville. … The Thunder had 23 turnovers, nine from Westbrook.
Jazz: The team held a moment of silence for former announcer Hot Rod Hundley, who died Friday. The players wore a black strip on the left shoulder of their jerseys. … Rodney Hood returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a stomach issue. … The Jazz broke a four-game losing streak.
The Thunder decided this week to shut down former MVP Kevin Durant after the decision that he needs a third surgery on his right foot. Coach Scott Brooks talked about moving on without his best player.
”We’ve dealt with injuries all year,” Brooks said. ”He’s going to end up missing 55-56 games. … It’s not easy with anybody getting hurt. That’s part of it. Kevin’s obviously a big part of what we do. It’s tough. It’s tough for everybody.
”But we have to keep playing. The NBA is not going to stop and wait for us. … We have to keep competing. We’re still fighting for a playoff spot. What Kevin brings to our team … he’s one of our better defenders. He’s a leader on the floor. We’re going to miss those two areas of his game.”
Kanter was critical of the Jazz during Saturday’s morning workout and expressed his newfound happiness in Oklahoma City.
”It wasn’t just a one-game or two-game frustration. It was a 3 1/2-year frustration,” Kanter said.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder said all players have their frustrations and didn’t see Kanter’s as anything different.
”You could tell a little bit, especially this year, maybe things weren’t what he necessarily wanted,” Hayward said. ”I think everybody wants to play and stay out on the court the entire time and wants to have the offense run through them and whatnot. I think he felt maybe it wasn’t the direction he wanted to go. That’s just, I guess, how he felt.”
Kanter was booed during introductions and every time he touched the ball. He even egged on the crowd at the start.
”I didn’t really care. I like pressure, the boos didn’t mean nothing to me,” Kanter said. ”It was just a regular game. I never felt like I was a part of this thing, so it was just a regular game. We came and we leave and that is it.
”I am not taking nothing back.”
Brooks was not happy with the way Kanter reacted and said he will have a discussion about it.