Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward doubtful for tonight's game at San Antonio
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SAN ANTONIO — If the Utah Jazz do the unthinkable on the Spurs’ home court tonight in front of an ESPN audience, it will likely happen without their leading scorer.
The Jazz, who’ve lost five in a row at AT&T Center and dropped 25 of 27 all-time in the arena, are not expecting to have shooting guard Gordon Hayward for the third game in a row.
Hayward tried to participate in shootaround, but his left hip flexor continues to bother him. He is listed as doubtful for the 6 p.m. game.
“I would doubt. We’ll see how he goes tonight. He tried a little bit this morning and he’s still a little stiff,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after shootaround. “You want to make sure that he’s more healed and not taking a chance of coming out and getting hurt and being out for an extended amount of time.”
• Corbin admitted that having Alec Burks fill in for Hayward in the starting lineup eases the pain a little for Utah. Burks is coming off a career-high 34-point performance in Monday’s impressive 118-103 win over Denver.
“It helps, but we need all of our pieces, and Gordon’s a big part of that,” Corbin said. “The sooner we get him back when he’s fully healthy (the better), but we don’t want to take a chance. Alec, his play kind of gives us a chance to be a little more cautious (with Hayward’s return). But we need all of our guys.”
• The Spurs will also be without a shooting guard. Danny Green broke his hand Sunday and is out for about a month.
• San Antonio enters the game on a five-game winning streak and has the best record in the Western Conference at 30-8. The Jazz, despite going 12-12 since a 1-14 start, still hold the conference’s worst record of 13-26.
“It’s a great testament to who they are. Coach (Gregg) Popovich does a great job with this group of guys, Tim (Duncan), Tony (Parker), (Manu) Ginobili, they’re still the engines that keep them going. The guys understand their roles and what it takes.”
Corbin admires that all-for-the team mentality that’s prevalent in this part of Texas.
“It’s such a unified effort to be great, and they want more. As good as they are, they always seem to want more so they continue to work to get a little bit more. They want to maximize everything that they have.”
Utah has lost twice to the Spurs this season at EnergySolutions Arena — 91-82 on Nov. 15 and 100-84 on Dec. 14. The Jazz haven't won in San Antonio since a 105-98 victory on Jan. 20, 2010.
• Corbin admitted being surprised that small forward Richard Jefferson is the only player to have started all 39 games this season for Utah.
“Yeah, it is surprising. It says who he is and the work that he put in this summer to get himself ready,” Corbin said. “After we were able to get him (via trade), we had a couple of talks with him and he got himself ready and he’s playing well for us.”
• Jefferson played in San Antonio from 2009 until March 2012 when he was traded to Golden State for Stephen Jackson. He was asked what he expected for this season after being traded again to Utah last offseason:
“I definitely knew what to expect in the sense that just looking at the roster, I knew that I was going to get an opportunity. I think a lot of people had kind of counted me out because the lockout year (struggles).
"Then I went to Golden State, (and) they were obviously trying to get a good draft pick, so they kind of rested guys. The next year I was injured. After being injured for not really being injured for most of my career, everybody thought I was finished. It was great to kind of get this summer to rest, get healthy and then get a change of environment and an opportunity to play.”
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