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Utah Jazz: Hayward's teammates tell him to keep shooting

Published November 22, 2013 11:02 am

NBA • Despite 1-for-17 shooting night, they still have confidence in their leader
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New Orleans • There were only about 30 seconds left to go before the worst shooting night of his career would be over, and Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward wanted to be the guy to inbound the ball, to try to find a teammate for a basket.

Richard Jefferson stopped him and called a play.

"I made him go to the paint and tried to get him another shot," Jefferson said.

Hayward's 1-for-17 shooting night Wednesday against the Pelicans was the worst in franchise history. Since 1984, only four other players have made just a single basket when attempting at least 17 shots in a game, according to BasketballReference.com.

But his teammates weren't bothered by his shot selection.

"Gordon knows as soon as he catch it, if he's wide open, he better shoot," guard John Lucas III said after the game. "He had a rough night tonight. Take a shower, wash it off and get ready for Dallas."

Hayward struggled mightily. His shot clanked off the rim often, as it did when he pulled up for a shot in a one-on-four fast break when the Jazz could have held for the last shot of a quarter. Other times, he missed the rim entirely.

His lone bucket came on a layup with 5:55 left in the first.

Hayward leads the Jazz in scoring, putting up 18.2 points a night. But he's shooting under 40 percent from the floor this season — below his career average of 44.5.

On Wednesday night, he missed all eight of his attempts from 3, dropping him to 30 percent from beyond the arc this year, a full nine points off his career average.

Still, the Jazz are willing to live and die by their young leader.

"You don't want to live with 1 for 17, but we love him and we're going to stay with him," coach Ty Corbin said. "He won't have many nights where he'll shoot 1 for 17. We trust that."

In the locker room at New Orleans Arena, Hayward expressed his frustrations. "If I would have hit two or three more shots, we probably would have won the game," he said.

But in the 23-year-old's disappointment, Corbin saw positives.

"Some nights in this league it's just not going to go in the hole for you," he said. "That's one of the things you love about the guy, he takes it personally."

Hayward missed practice Thursday with a bruised right knee cap, an injury he sustained during the loss to the Pelicans. If it affected his shot, Hayward did not mention it Wednesday night.

"You get back in the gym, see the basketball go through the hoop," he said Wednesday night. "You move on. Shooters shoot. So I'll keep shooting."

That's the advice his friend and teammate one locker over gave him.

"I just told him to shoot another five," Jeremy Evans said. "He's a great shooter and he knows it. I told him, 'I don't like to see you like this, so shoot the next one.'"

Hayward finished with six points — two coming on free throws after Jefferson's play call for him — to go along with six rebounds and a career-high 11 assists. At the end of the night, his plus-minus rating (+5) was the best on the team.

"You can't get so focused in on the negative," Jefferson said. "I saw [Jason Kidd] dominate for over a decade without ever scoring the ball and shooting 39 percent for his career. [Hayward] was doing so much. Without him playing, we don't have a chance in that game." —

Jazz at Mavericks

O At American Airlines Arena (Dallas)

Tipoff • Friday, 6 p.m. MT

TV • ROOT Sports

Radio • 97.5 FM, 960 AM, 1280 AM

Records • Jazz 1-12; Mavericks 8-4

About the Jazz • Playing their second game of a three-game road trip, the Jazz are still looking for their first win away from EnergySolutions Arena. … Gordon Hayward, the team's leading scorer, is a game-time decision due to a bruised right knee cap. … Forward Marvin Williams is expected to be available to play after undergoing surgery on his broken nose Thursday in Salt Lake City. … Rookie point guard Trey Burke could see more minutes after making his NBA debut Wednesday night.

About the Mavericks • Dirk Nowitzki continues to be one of the league's premier shooters, averaging better than 20 points a game. … Speedy guard Monta Ellis adds another dimension for the Mavericks. He's putting up 23 points a night. … Former Jazz point guard Devin Harris is rehabbing from foot surgery.






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