Utah Jazz: Team hopes Gordon Hayward finds scoring touch against Phoenix Suns

Published November 28, 2013 9:41 pm
NBA • Swingman has shot 13-for-53 during recent cold stretch.
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If Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is worried about Gordon Hayward's recent drop in point-production, it doesn't show.

After reaching double figures in Utah's first 12 games, Hayward has failed to do so in two of the last four.

During his icy stretch, Hayward averages 9.9 points on 13-for-53 shooting, which bottomed out with a 1-for-17 performance last week at New Orleans.

Corbin shrugs.

Apparently, he is convinced Hayward is only experiencing a shooting slump, not any kind of long-term downward spiral.

"We're asking a lot from him," Corbin said. "We put the ball in his hands a lot. He's a focal point on offense many nights ... and other teams pay him a lot of attention."

Hayward's plan to attack his shooting woes?

"Just continue to get back in the gym," he said Thursday morning. "More practice, more shots."

Heading into Friday night's game against the Phoenix Suns, Hayward averages 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

As it stands, he's on pace to join Hall of Famer Pete Maravich as the second player in franchise history to average at least 16 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season.

Maravich did it twice with the New Orleans Jazz. He averaged 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assist in 1974-75. He also averaged 31.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 1976-77.

"I thought Gordon had a great game against Chicago," said Corbin, referring to the Jazz's 89-83 overtime win over the Bulls on Monday night.

In Utah's second victory of the season, Hayward had 15 points, six rebounds and 12 assists.

"... He doesn't need to press," Corbin said. "He's going to get opportunities to score. But he's also going to make plays for his teammates. The other night, he had all those assists and it was huge for us."

The win couldn't have come at a better time for the Jazz.

They rested Tuesday before returning to practice Wednesday and Thursday without being weighed down by what would have been a seven-game losing streak.

"It gives you a little confidence booster — something positive to think about during the days off," Hayward said.

Corbin agreed.

"We're not where we want to be, but we're coming off a win and not a string of losses," he said. "So the guys feel better about themselves and the coaches, I think, get their attention more. ... They can see what we're talking about. It hits home a little more."

Corbin saw noticeable improvement in the Jazz's defense against Chicago, which managed only 78 points in regulation.

"I thought our on-the-ball communication was pretty good," he said. "The rotations were really on-point. The communication on the back side was really good. The rhythm of everything is what we are looking for."

Offensively, the Jazz "were able to finish the game because we moved the ball and made some shots," Corbin said. "... We spaced the floor well. Especially with the smaller lineup, we did a good job of moving the ball and moving our bodies." —

Suns at Jazz

O EnergySolutions Arena

Tipoff • Friday, 7 p.m.

TV • ROOT Sports

Radio • 1280 AM, 1600 AM, 97.5 FM

Records • Jazz, 2-14; Suns, 8-7

Season series • Suns lead, 1-0

Last meeting • Suns, 87-84 (Nov. 1)

About the Jazz • They have won three straight home games against Phoenix by 12, 13 and 15 points. ... They have scored over 100 points once in their first 16 games this season. ... They have led into the fourth quarter only twice. ... As a team, they shoot 69.9 percent from the free-throw line.

About the Suns • Coached by former Jazz star Jeff Hornacek. ... They come off a 120-106 win over Portland. G Goran Dragic had 31 points and 10 assists. ... They limited the Jazz to 36.5 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers in an early season win over Utah.


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