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Utah Jazz: Hayward struggles against Clippers’ swarming defense

First Published      Last Updated Apr 19 2017 05:47 pm


In focus » Utah forward scores 20 points, but goes 5 of 15 from field in loss.

Los Angeles • Gordon Hayward had good moments in Tuesday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Utah Jazz need their best offensive player to more than a few good moments, and that serves as a significant reason the Jazz are coming home tied at 1 in their Western Conference first-round playoff series after a 99-91 loss.

To say the Clippers were physical with Hayward is an understatement. Luc Mbah a Moute scored four points in the Clippers' won on Tuesday night, but he was a significant factor in his defense on Hayward.

"Luc was amazing," Clippers guard Chris Paul said "Probably 20 of the toughest points he ever had to get. Luc just constantly keeps coming."




Mbah a Moute pressured Hayward, bumped him on his cuts to the basket, stuck an arm out when Hayward's teammates tried to screen for him. Whenever Hayward found his way into the paint, Mbah a Moute found help from DeAndre Jordan. And because Jordan was dominant defensively, the Clippers were able to play Hayward tight and make things difficult for him on the perimeter, knowing they had help at the rim.

"There were a bunch of people waiting for me in the paint," Hayward said in the moments following.

As a result, Hayward wasn't the force for the Jazz that he was in Saturday's Game 1 victory. He finished Tuesday with 20 points, six rebounds and two assists — Hayward's game has progressed to the point where you aren't going to completely shut him down.

But the Jazz need him to dominate Mbah a Moute to win this series, especially with Gobert's status in doubt. What Los Angeles did to Hayward what the Jazz did to Paul in Game 1: They made Hayward work for his points, and rendered him inefficient from the field.

Hayward shot 5-of-15 from the field in 39 minutes. He did make three of his six 3-point attempts. But Hayward in Game 1 made several big shots in the fourth quarter; Los Angeles didn't allow Hayward to do the same in Game 2.

More importantly, Hayward didn't have the same all-around impact in Game 2. He grabbed 10 rebounds in Game 1, helping Derrick Favors and Jeff Withey. Hayward snared six rebounds on Tuesday, while Jordan and Blake Griffin wreaked havoc at the basket on both ends of the floor.

"I thought I shot the ball decently well from 3, missed way too many twos, probably some tough ones," Hayward said. "I feel like I could have gotten maybe better looks. But they do a good job of trying to corral our ballhandlers into their bigs and force you into tough shots. I think we need to try to get better looks, and we got some open ones tonight, we just didn't knock them down. But definitely, definitely I can help facilitate more, play-make a little bit better to get us some better looks."

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz

 

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