Utah Jazz – Gordon Hayward Rises Above Suffocating Physicality

The Utah Jazz want to physical and tough each and every night, just like the Memphis Grizzlies usually have been over the last three seasons. Still, someone needs to rise above all the brutishness and score some points, and Gordon Hayward, part of the future the Jazz are hoping will be a bright one, became the one that rises.

I can steal that from Memphis because we are a replica of them. They’ve been together long enough to play that way each and every night. Collectively we didn’t know when we were going to find it, but that’s who we are. We have to be physical. … We can’t pound the ball on offense then on defense be soft. We have to take a page out of Memphis’ book and they’re physical on both ends of the floor.

The Jazz won’t be like the Grizzlies they beat 90-84 for long, as Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson will probably not be returning after the season is over, playoffs or not, as the two are hitting free agency and are looking for contracts the Miller family isn’t planning on giving them. It’ll be up to Enes Kanter (8 points in 10 minutes) and Derrick Favors (10 points, 6 rebounds), involved in a hilarious incident with Marc Gasol that also had a shoe and a hard foul in it, to take their place eventually.

Gordon Hayward brought toughness, but mostly scoring in the clutch. He finished with 18 points and hit a big three pointer with 17 seconds left on the clock to ensure the Jazz won at home for once and kept themselves within striking distance from the Lakers and the rest of the postseason teams who aren’t quite safe yet.

It showed how physical the game was. A guy loses his shoe, he picks it up, plays defense. I didn’t even know he hit me with a shoe at first until somebody told me. He had to do what he had to do, I was attacking the rim.

As expected, Al Jefferson who is having the reverse of a contract year, and so is Paul Millsap, struggled to put up points against the extremely stubborn Memphis interior. Jefferson finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds, Millsap had 13 points and 8 rebounds. It’s not that the two don’t want to play better, but not getting traded might be something that is somewhat hurting their motivations, already thinking about the next contract.

It doesn’t really matter to Utah. This is a team that never thinks about losing to get a good seeding in the draft lottery  Playoffs are always the goal, that’s why you rarely see trades of the kind many were expecting to see from them in February. They’ve lost their placing among the top 8 because of their poor guard play, and the Jazz will be looking for one in free agency, but not through a quick fix. For now, Hayward and whoever plays next to him – Randy Foye or Mo Williams, will have to be enough.

It might not be, eventually, with the Lakers winning tough games even without Kobe Bryant, but they’re not steering of their guidelines  no matter what, hoping it’ll get them to the postseason without Jerry Sloan for the first time.

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