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Luhm: NBA prospects can make big money during NCAA Tournament

Jazzman Gordon Hayward cashed in on his NCAA tourney run with Butler.

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"I went back to our people," one personnel-type said, "and told them, ‘I may be crazy, but I think he’s better than Wesley Johnson.’ "

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At a glance

NBA » four-point play

Knicks miss Chandler

I picked the Knicks to win the Atlantic Division and threaten Miami in the East. I don’t know if they can beat the Heat, but they don’t have any shot unless Tyson Chandler returns 100 percent from a neck injury. “He takes a lot of pride — kind of like Kevin Garnett — in his defense,” said Utah’s Al Jefferson. “He’s just a very tough, defensive-minded guy.”

Koufos blossoms in Denver

Ex-Jazz first-rounder Kosta Koufos is emerging in Denver. Only 24 but already in his fifth season, he’s the starting center for the streaking Nuggets. Koufos averages 6.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 22.6 minutes — all career highs. “He’s getting better every week. He’s smart and solid,” coach George Karl told the Denver Post. “It’s fun watching him get better every week.”

Nuggets own streak

With the Jazz struggling and college basketball taking center stage in Utah this week, perhaps you didn’t notice the Nuggets won their 14th straight game with a 101-100 victory over Philadelphia. Denver trailed by eight with less than two minutes left. “It was crazy. To be honest, I didn’t think we had any chance of winning,” said Corey Brewer, who scored 29 points.

Corbin: ignore criticism

As the Jazz have struggled, criticism of coach Tyrone Corbin and the players has mounted. According to Randy Foye, Corbin told his the players to ignore it: “He says, ‘I’ll handle it.’ But I really don’t read the newspapers or watch sports.” Why? “When you’re winning,” Foye said, “everybody loves you. When you’re struggling, they try to beat you down. It comes with the territory.”

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Butler reached the title game, where Hayward’s half-court shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim, and Duke won the national championship.

The Jazz ended up using the No. 9 pick in the draft on Hayward, whose $15 million rookie contract is worth about twice as much as those belonging to players picked in the mid-20s.

Talk about March Madne$$.

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