Indianapolis • When the two met last week, Brad Stevens brushed off concerns about his former star pupil’s struggles, calling Jazz guard Gordon Hayward’s "mental makeup is high level."
Stevens, the Boston Celtics coach and Hayward’s mentor at Butler, said the youngster would pull through.
It’s been a troubling season for Hayward’s shot, but as he returns to his hometown — and the place where he and Stevens helped put a mid-major college on the map — Hayward has shown some signs of improvement over his last two games.
"It’s still not where I want it to be, but it’s better," Hayward said Friday after finishing 6 of 13 from the field during a game in which he hit his first three 3-point attempts. "You’ve got to take some baby steps when you’re trying to shoot your way out of a slump. I thought it was good tonight, especially hitting the first couple. You see the ball go in and the basket gets a little bigger."
Hayward is shooting a career low 40 percent on the season, and a career low 30 percent from three. But over his last two games, Hayward believes he’s seeing progress. He is shooting 50 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from 3.
"It’s definitely coming along," he said.
In his fourth trip back to Indiana as a professional, Hayward planned no signings or appearances, just a "low key" two days in his hometown with family.
"It’s still special," he said of the homecoming. "Anytime you go home, it’s always special."
Jazz forward Jeremy Evans sprained his left ankle during the team’s Saturday morning practice. He will be a game-time decision Sunday evening against the Pacers.
After being bought out by the Sacramento Kings, former BYU star Jimmer Fredette has agreed to join the Chicago Bulls. Fredette, in his third year, was averaging 5.9 points in 11 minutes a game with the Kings this season.
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