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Spurs notebook: Manu Ginobili impressed with Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward

Published: Monday, April 30 2012 6:54 p.m. MDT

SAN ANTONIO — As Game 1 progressed Sunday, Gordon Hayward started resembling Al Jefferson and Tyrone Corbin.

Salty moisture beads formed, multiplied and dripped.

His hair became soaked.

Yep, in his first playoff experience, Hayward looked like he was braving a pouring sweat storm without an umbrella.

"I think it was just the extra adrenaline from it being the first playoff game," Hayward said, smiling. "But it was hot out there."

Not to overlook the fact that Hayward's NBA postseason debut included a lot of hard work trying to aggressively make things happen on offense while also tracking around Manu Ginobili and other San Antonio wings on defense.

"Chasing around guys, trying to get out on the break and running through and playing with a lot of intensity, you're going to be sweating," Hayward said.

The savvy veteran and three-time champion who caused some of that perspiration had favorable things to say about the 22-year-old Monday at Spurs practice.

"(Hayward) attacks the rim hard, creates contact. He's good," Ginobili said of his Jazz counterpart. "He has great athletic abilities."

Battle-tested in the NCAA after leading Butler to the 2010 NCAA championship game, Hayward now has 36-and-a-half minutes of NBA playoff experience as well.

Hayward has had better outings, but he held his own while scoring 17 points in the Jazz's 106-91 loss to San Antonio. The 6-8 shooting guard was only 2-for-6 from the field, but he went a career-best 12-for-12 at the charity stripe.

"His shot is getting there," Ginobili added. "He's not the most reliable one yet, but you've got to respect him. He has length. He has the whole package. He's going to be a great player."

MUTUALLY FOND: Before Game 1, Jazz center Al Jefferson told Spurs star Tim Duncan it was an "honor" to play against him in the playoffs. Big Al added that it's always a learning experience to go against The Big Fundamental.

Duncan, appreciative of Jefferson's kind words, offered praise back to the Jazz center.

"Al's been always great and given me a lot of compliments over the years, but he's one heck of a player. He is their main player," Duncan said Monday. "I'm focused on just trying to slow him down as much as possible. The respect factor is there on both sides, but bottom line is we're both trying to win games."

Jefferson finished his first playoff game since 2005 with a ho-hum 16 points and nine rebounds. Duncan seemed spry for his 36-year-old legs, ending with 17 points, 11 rebounds and some big dunks.

"He's an excellent post player and always a challenge. Obviously, I have some things I can work on to take away from him," Duncan added. "I think I gave a couple of things that were too easy. All in all, I thought we both played each other pretty well."

NOT DUNKIN': The missed breakaway dunk by 6-6 Ginobili was a topic his teammates were happy to discuss.

Duncan on the 34-year-old's botched slam: "I think he just got a little too excited, took off from a little too far, and we've been killing him ever since. I enjoy the fact that he missed it more than if he had made it."

Added Stephen Jackson: "I guess he thought his vertical was higher than what it really was. It was funny."

Ginobili pointed out that he tied Duncan with two dunks.

"I know I overachieved on the first two. I got too excited in the beginning," he said, smiling. "I tried to dunk everything and I'm not up to the task."

THIS AND THAT: Spurs post Tiago Splitter is sporting a soft cast on his injured left wrist and is doubtful for Wednesday's Game 2, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. … Jackson, in his second stint with San Antonio, called Duncan a "close friend" who knows what's in his heart. Jackson also revealed that Duncan has both of the rap CDs he's made. "He asked for them, so that was a good thing." … Jackson on the Jazz in Game 1: "I think they played well. They were (an) aggressive team. I think they could have got more out of their stars and Devin Harris, but I think they played well. I just think we wanted it a little bit more than them (Sunday)."

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

Blog: Jazzland.blogs.desertnews.com

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