NBA: Utah Jazz' Gordon Hayward rolls with changing roles
Gordon Hayward has never publicly flinched about his role, whether he's a starter or coming off the bench.
Monday night was just a continuation of that philosophy.
The third-year guard played as a reserve again, as the Utah Jazz once again started a big lineup against the Houston Rockets. In the 102-91 win at EnergySolutions Arena, Hayward was one of the best players on the floor.
He scored 15 points and combined with Marvin Williams to give Utah a presence when the starters sat down to rest. The two displaced starters provided energy when the big lineup sputtered, and depth when the Jazz fell into an early deficit.
"I've never had a problem with starting or coming off the bench," Hayward said. "It's just a matter of being ready with whatever the role is for that night. You have to play hard and you have to be aggressive."
Utah's bench turned the game around in the first half, and continued the pressure after halftime. Every Jazz player scored, except for second-year guard Alec Burks.
An early gift
The Rockets were forced to play most of the game without shooting guard James Harden, who tried to play despite being sick, but couldn't go past the second quarter.
Harden, who was traded to Houston from Oklahoma City, had been one of the highest-scoring players in the league. He scored six points in 17 minutes and didn't make an appearance in the second half.
"He had a temperature so we decided to shut him down," acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We weren't sure if he was going to be able to play, but we wanted to try it."
Monday represented the second consecutive game where the Jazz found themselves in an early deficit.
Houston went on a 7-0 run to start the game, but Utah quickly climbed out with an 11-3 run. The Jazz took control and coasted for the remainder of the contest.
"I didn't really think about it," center Al Jefferson said. "I knew we were going to get it together. We took good shots early. They just didn't fall for us."