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Ex-Jazzmen making first return back to Utah

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Alec Burks (10) shoots during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 118-94. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SALT LAKE CITY – You may think a matchup with the team with the worse record in the NBA offers little intrigue to the Utah Jazz and its fans. Well when two ex-Jazzmen returning back to Utah for the first time, you might say it ups it a little.

Cavs guards Alec Burks and Rodney Hood will be making their first returns to the Beehive State to play against their former team. The Jazz traded Burks in December which helped bring Kyle Korver here. The organization traded Hood last season in a multiple-team trade that helped the team land Jae Crowder.

The ex-Jazzmen have already played their former team once when the Utah Jazz cruised to a victory 117-91 where Burks scored 17 points. Utah was actually down at halftime but got going in the second half.

Burks played for the Jazz from 2011-2018 averaging 9.4 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game. Hood played with the organization from 2014-2018 and averaged 13.1 points per game in his stay in Utah.

Both say they enjoyed their time in Utah and are trying to make the best of their current situation in Cleveland. Hood averages 12.8 points per game for the Cavs and Burks scores 12.1 points per contest.

“He’s (Burks) one of my good friends that I always had, and just to have him here, a familiar face, has been good for me, and I’m sure for him being traded and having somebody that can show him some stuff here,” Hood said.

The Utah Jazz come into the game Friday against the Cavs on a win-streak. They have won five in a row and are winners of seven of their last eight games.

They’ve done it largely without a point guard allowing Donovan Mitchell to handle the ball. He has flourished and it won him a player of the week award for last week’s games.

The Jazz’s last win came Wednesday night beating the Los Angeles Clippers 129-109. Mitchell scored 28 points and has had seven straight games of putting up 28 or more.

“I’m just trying to build and work and not overthink things,” Mitchell said after Wednesday’s game. “I had a slow start to the year, but I’m starting to find my groove a little bit just trying to find ways to keep working.”

Rudy Gobert also scored 23 points and crashed the boards, pulling down 22 rebounds in the win.

The Jazz will tip-off against the Cavs Friday night at 7 P.M.