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Late in the Jazz's game against Denver last week, the Nuggets switched on a pick-and-roll, leaving 6-foot point guard Jameer Nelson to defend 6-foot-8 Gordon Hayward.
It turned into a matchup that Utah was able to exploit in a win over the Nuggets, but Hayward said it's not a battle he would have won last year because he didn't have a post game.
"No. Definitely not," he said. "That was a big point of emphasis this summer for me and still this year. It's something we can try to use to close the games, especially when they have a smaller guard on me."
Hayward has good size for his position, especially when playing at the 2-spot, but his trainers in Indianapolis noted that he had precious few attempts in the post last year. After a summer of hard work, the Jazz are seeing some payoff.
"You can tell he wants to be in that situation. It's one he's comfortable in," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "He's worked on it. That's the thing about Gordon that you like is he continues to try to add to his game."
Hayward said he's finding a level of comfort in the post, either backing down smaller defenders for buckets or making the right read to find an open look for someone else. But he's still learning as he tries to implement that new part of his game.
"It's something where you're learning something completely new," he said. "I've played this game for so long and you play a certain way. You don't think about having your back to the basket and using your body. It's a skill. It's an art. There's definitely a lot of learning that needs to take place and a lot of it comes from just doing it in a game."
With a rematch of last year's Finals scheduled for Christmas day, some in the Bay are naturally looking ahead to LeBron James and the Cavaliers' visit on Friday.
But Warriors' interim coach Luke Walton wasn't entertaining those questions at practice early this week.
"We've got a game on Wednesday," he told reporters there. "Utah plays us tough. Every time we play Utah, they play us tough. So we've got our hands full Wednesday night."
Golden State center Festus Ezeli, who could be in line for bigger minutes if Andrew Bogut is still not cleared to return from a back injury, expects a challenge down low.
"They gave us a lot of problems last time on the boards and Favors was really effective for them on the post last game," he said.
No plays off
Jazz forward Trevor Booker earned some Internet love for his kick and chop celebration after Alec Burks' high-flying finish over Phoenix's Jon Leuer on Monday night. But Booker drew some criticism from his coach, too.
"I didn't get back on defense, so I know that coach is mad at me," he said.
Jazz point guard Dante Exum continues to make progress in his rehab, working has way slowly back from a summer ACL tear. On Monday, Exum was on the court after the Jazz's shootaround, firing up shots from the elbow of the key and working on his form.
That same day he got a vote of confidence from one of the game's greats, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who was asked about his relationship with Exum during a conference call with international reporters.
"So with Dante, I've spoken to Dante through our agent Rob [Pelinka], and plan on touching base with him, probably over the summer," Bryant said. "His head coach is a good friend, Quin Snyder, and I speak to Q quite often. Dante's a fantastic young player. I think he'll bounce back I think he'll be just fine."