TORONTO — Trevor Booker smiled and exhaled a prolonged sigh when asked about his travel experience Wednesday.
Trying to reunite with his team in Toronto two days after attending his grandmother’s funeral in South Carolina was much more challenging than he thought it would be.
“I’ve been up since 4 o’clock this morning trying to get here,” Booker said about 18 and a half hours after waking up Wednesday.
Problem No. 1: “Flights to Toronto from Charlotte are very scarce,” Booker explained. That meant he had to take an early-bird special in order to make a connection in Detroit.
Problem No. 2: Booker’s early flight from Charlotte was eventually canceled due to mechanical issues with the plane.
Problem No. 3: The next flight to Detroit wasn’t until 12:30 p.m., which meant he missed his connection and had to take a later flight to Toronto. He didn’t arrive in Canada until a couple of hours before the Jazz and Raptors played at 7:30 p.m. ET and didn’t get to the arena until an hour and 15 minutes before tipoff.
“I have the worst luck on commercial flights,” Booker said to sympathetic beat writers who always travel commercial. The Jazz forward laughed and added, “I’m thinking about just buying a private jet.”
(Beat writers can only imagine what the latter would be like, by the way.)
After the delays, Booker ended up playing only seven minutes in the Jazz’s 104-94 loss. He had four points and two rebounds after mustering up a bit of energy following the taxing travel.
“Whew! It’s pretty tough,” Booker said, grinning. “You’ve just got to try to find some energy from somewhere.”
The travel fiasco paled in comparison to the difficulty Booker had bidding farewell to his grandmother. He has fond memories of spending time with her along with his brothers and cousins.
“I was very close (to her),” he said. “We used to go stay with her just about every weekend, me and my brothers, all their grandkids. That was the hotspot.”
Booker said the comforting bright side included being reunited with family he doesn’t get to see often.
“It was a tough time for the family, but everybody came together,” Booker said. “I have a big family, so everybody leaned on each other. That’s the good part about it. It helped everybody get through it easier.”
BURKS REHAB: The Jazz miss the way Alec Burks attacked the basket and made things happen on the offensive end, Snyder admitted Wednesday. The Jazz coach still isn’t quite sure when the shooting guard is going to return from his injury.
Burks underwent surgery to repair a broken fibula eight weeks ago. The team expected him to be out between 8-10 weeks, so his return could be soon after the Jazz return from this weeklong road trip.
As usual, Utah is not giving an on-the-record projected return date.
“No one wants to be back more than Alec,” Snyder said. “He loves the game and loves to play, so some of it’s like making sure that he’s ready.”
Meaning: Burks might try to rush back sooner than later, which might not be ideal for his long-term health.
Snyder is eager to have Burks back in his arsenal. The Jazz’s wing depth has been an issue in his absence, but the coach isn’t expecting too much too soon when that finally happens.
“We may not get the Alec that we had in December. We certainly won’t Game 1,” Snyder said. “And how quickly that happens and comes? How does (he) fit with how our group’s evolved? There’s a process about reintegrating guys.”
Burks stayed behind in Utah with rehabbing Dante Exum to work on his strength and flexibility with Jazz strength and conditioning coach Mark McKown.
BURKE BUOYED: Trey Burke was benched for Monday’s game in Boston, but the point guard sparked a fourth-quarter comeback in Toronto. He scored all 11 of his points in the final period and helped Utah pull within four after falling behind by 12.
Burke credited the support of his teammates for helping him to maintain a good mindset. That aided in his solid contribution on a night where the Jazz needed a lift because starting point guard Shelvin Mack (0-6, two points) was struggling and shooting guard Rodney Hood left the game early with a minor head injury.
“Teammates,” Burke said, “just kept telling me to be aggressive — (to) just go out there and make plays.”
Burke did just that, hitting 5 of 10 shots.
“Trey came in, especially with Rodney out, and gave us a punch. He’s been doing that. He’ll continue to do that,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Raul played really well. Shelvin didn’t have his best night. We’re going to be able to go through the point guard deal every game. Those guys are all competing. That’s what I want for them and from them.”