Hayward finished with seven points, three assists, three steals and one rebound. He hit 2 of 5 shots and had one turnover in 23 minutes, but he seemed to be one of the few players who cared about busting it on the defensive end in this high-scoring highlight-friendly event.
“I gained some confidence, for sure. I gained some respect probably from other people,” Hayward said. “I just tried to get better through this week, and I think I did.”
That’s the word Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin heard as well after arriving in Vegas on Wednesday to observe Hayward and Favors.
"It doesn’t matter who he’s playing with or against,” Corbin said, “he’s showing his talents more — and that’s what we want."
Thursday’s balanced stat line wasn’t enough to trump the sour feelings from his team’s setback, but Hayward enjoyed his time with USA Basketball. This was his third national experience, having led the country to a gold medal in the U-19 World Championships in New Zealand in 2009 and helping prepare the 2012 Olympic winners in Vegas last July.
What did he gain from this particular week going against Paul George, Chandler Parsons, Klay Thompson et al. and being tutored by U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski & Co.?
“The experience the whole thing,” he said. “Listening to the coaches, hearing what they have to say. Just playing with these guys is good for me.
“Competing with the best and practicing with the best only makes you better,” he added, “so that aspect of it was great.”
Another great part of Thursday’s game?
Nobody wowed the crowd like Air Force's high-flying Nathaniel "Sgt. Slam" Mills, whose windmill dunk in military gear during a timeout break was the talk of the night. After fans and media buzzed about the slam, senior Airman Nathan Mills told USA Basketball media director Craig Miller, "You should see me without fatigues and boots.”
That’s what Favors might say about having a good back.
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