Utah Jazz: Rookie Gordon Hayward to start tonight in place of injured Raja Bell
SALT LAKE CITY — Rookie Gordon Hayward will get the second start of his young NBA career when the Utah Jazz host the Orlando Magic.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan announced after this morning's shootaround that the No. 9 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft will fill in for an injured Raja Bell, who will be sidelined with a strained groin muscle.
Starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko (strained right quadriceps) will also play after some doubt, but backup center Kyrylo Fesenko will also miss the showdown with Dwight Howard & Co., who lost 97-83 in Portland late Thursday.
Hayward, the former Butler star, admits he's more comfortable than when he started on Nov. 15 — in a home loss to Oklahoma City. But he tries to be prepared to play regardless of the situation, which for him includes earning a spot in the first five after not playing at all in two straight games.
"For me, it's the same because if I get my name called or not called on the bench, I always stay ready," Hayward said. "Now it's called, so I'll go in there, do my job and play as hard as I can."
Hayward is averaging 2.1 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.2 assists and 8.0 minutes in 18 appearances. The 20-year-old shooting guard had four points, two rebounds and 22 minutes in his first NBA start last month.
Bell, who'll miss his second game this season with a groin injury, said he'll give Hayward some tips on how to defend Orlando's dangerous Vince Carter before tonight's game.
"I played against Vince a lot, and I've had different levels of success against him," Bell said. "I know kind of some of the things he doesn't like and so I'll try to share them with him and see if he can do it."
Having already experienced issues with a strained left adductor, Bell said he initially tweaked the right adductor during Monday's game. He was able to practice and play through it until late in Wednesday's Miami game when the injury flared up.
"I don't think it's anything that we won't be able to fix with some religious exercises and stuff like that," Bell said. "It's now just about getting this one healthy and then trying to strengthen them up."
Bell said he'll rest until the soreness subsides and he's able to move better.
Fesenko is no longer sporting a walking boot on his sprained left ankle, but he is unlikely to play tonight. He also missed Wednesday's game.
The backup big man said he's feeling "good (but) a little frustrated" because he can run and almost jump but lacks lateral movement.
"I was kind of hoping that I would be able to go today," Fesenko said. "But I don't know. It doesn't look like it. I haven't practiced with the team yet."
Sloan also said he hopes to give rookie Jeremy Evans more playing time.
"Both of the those guys, (Hayward) and Jeremy, both need to play," Sloan said. "They need opportunities to play. I've got to try to get them both in the ballgame. ... They've done a terrific job. You couldn't ask them to work harder."
Sloan added that Ronnie Price, excused from Thursday's practice for personal reasons, will fill in as Hayward's backup.
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