This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It wasn't the greatest return from injury for Rodney Hood.
Shots were short all night for the Utah Jazz's starting shooting guard. His explosion to the rim off the dribble wasn't there, and there were times he was frustrated by the shots he was missing.
All the same, it was a return, and Hood was glad to get out onto the floor. In what was an 88-84 preseason loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, Hood was happy to work out the kinks in a game that didn't count. Now, he can move on to the real thing.
"I'll be ready for the regular season," Hood said. "I hadn't been practicing or anything, so it was good to get out there and be able to take contact."
That's why the shooting struggles, and the overall rustiness mattered little to Hood. His return to health from the sprained left hand was more important.
"It was great to get out there and get some reps and some game conditioning," Hood said. "I was definitely rusty, especially in the first half. But I found a rhythm in the third quarter and I started to get more aggressive and get good shots."
Hood scored five points against Portland on 2 of 8 shooting from the field, both makes coming in the third quarter. He missed both of his 3-point attempts and played a little less than 21 minutes.
With no Gordon Hayward and probably no Alec Burks to start the season, Hood is going to be counted on to create much of Utah's offense from the perimeter. He will consistently draw the best defender on the opposition as well.
That's more responsibility than he's had in his career. Last season, he played a game without Hayward and scored 28 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But this time around will be different. Hayward will be out for most of the first month of the season, and that Cavaliers team last March was in cruise control, waiting for the postseason to begin.
"It was good to see Rodney get out there and play. He hasn't played in a while, and when you are out for a period of time you have a tendency to not be as aggressive. But he came out in the second half and looked like he was really attacking, and that was a good thing."