Taking the brunt of fan criticism, Utah Jazz’s Rodney Hood vows to shoot way out of slump

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood (5) shoots overIndiana Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44), in NBA action Utah Jazz vs Indiana Pacers, in Salt Lake City, Monday, January 15, 2018.

It happened with 1:58 left in the first quarter, right after Rodney Hood missed his sixth shot of the game.

Boos. From the home crowd at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Boos for Hood.

The fourth-year wing was far from the only Jazzman to struggle in the 109-94 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. But he was the only one to be booed. And considering that he finished with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting, that reaction from his own fans might’ve been heavy-handed and premature.

But afterward, Hood — who has not only been caught in a slump lately, but was recently fined $35,000 after an ejection — said he wasn’t going to get down on himself because others were.

“Nah, I feed off of s---,” he said. “It is what it is, you know what I mean? I just gotta be who I am. It is what it is. Things are always coming — like I’ve been through tough times before. I’ve had people give up on me before, so this s--- is nothing new. I keep moving forward.”

This much is true: Hood is having a rough stretch. Ever since starting the season as Utah’s leading scorer through his first 24 games, he has seen his numbers dip: Since a 29-point game in San Antonio, he’s averaged just 12.5 points per game, shooting 33.6 percent from the field and 28.4 from beyond the arc. It’s far below his season averages in what has been, until recently, his most productive season with the Jazz.

The problems have only been more pronounced in the first quarter: Hood is shooting just 21 percent in first quarters in the last 10 games. Against the Pacers, he started in the same fashion. But as for going 4 for 6 in the second half, Hood said he didn’t make any changes.

“I started out missing some makeable shots, some open shots,” he said. “It didn’t go down. I just didn’t get down on myself and kept playing.”

While Hood may say he’s still believing in himself, others aren’t. Perhaps as much as any Jazz player, Hood has gotten criticism from Jazz fans. He’s been pushed out of the starting lineup by the rise of Donovan Mitchell, and the latest issues haven’t helped boost his popularity.

But one of the people standing by him is his coach. Quin Snyder noted that Hood shot through the difficulties on a night when only two other players scored in double figures for the Jazz.

“I think give Rodney credit. He played through the tough start,” Snyder said. “But I think the more our focus isn’t on ‘my shot’ or the individual part of the game, our offense gets easier.”

Other teammates stuck up for Hood as well: Donovan Mitchell took to Twitter postgame defending Hood saying he “works his butt off.”

As for Hood, he hopes that in time, his work will speak for itself. It’s not right now. But he maintained faith that his shooting will come around, as all shooters must.

“If people boo, or they say s--- about me, you know, I’ll just keep going,” he said. “That’s all I can do. I’m gonna keep my head up. Keep shooting the ball, you know what I mean? It is what it is. I gotta keep fighting and not lose confidence because everybody else does.”