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Utah Jazz: Slump and slump-breaking suggestions pile up for Gordon Hayward

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25 2014 8:32 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward (20) plays the ball as Boston Celtics' Jeff Green (8) pursues in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — If you have any shooting advice for Gordon Hayward, well, he’s probably already heard it during his extended slump.

“I have people telling me all kinds of things,” Hayward said.

Yes, you, he's even heard that.

And that.

But thanks.

“You listen to everybody. You might not respond to everybody,” Hayward said. “I appreciate everybody at least looking out for me. That’s pretty cool. But it’s just a matter of just working through it.”

Since returning from his five-game absence with a hip flexor injury, Hayward has really only had one excellent shooting game. That came in his first game back when he went 10 for 17 from the field for 27 points against Minnesota on Jan. 21.

Hayward has shot just 30.9 percent in his last 13 games, including a paltry 9 of 44 (20.4 percent) from 3-point range.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said Utah is trying everything it possibly can to support the team captain and help him snap out of his shooting funk. Hayward’s working at it, too. He’s putting up extra shots, watching film and working with player development coach Johnnie Bryant.

“He’s just kind of pressing a little bit. He’s going to work his way through it,” Corbin said. “He’s just got to relax and make some shots. We’ll keep pushing and working with him … and have him understand that we need him to play for us to have a chance.”

Corbin believes Hayward’s mechanics are fine. Earlier in the season, the shooting guard was leaning back on his shots, but that isn’t necessarily the case in this prolonged slump. He’s rushing some attempts, causing him to even miss some layups.

“It’s a little something that clicks,” Corbin said. “He’s just got to get the click back.”

“I think it’s one of those things where I just need to continue to get in the gym,” Hayward said. “Working with Johnnie will be the best thing for me.”

EVEN STEVENS: Hayward admitted he got a little bit of good-natured ribbing from his old college coach when he caught up with Brad Stevens on Sunday night. The Celtics smacked the Jazz in November 97-87, giving the former Butler coach his first NBA victory despite Hayward’s 28 points.

“It’s good to get a win against him,” Hayward said at Tuesday’s practice after the Jazz beat Stevens’ Boston squad 110-98 Monday. “He said something at dinner (Sunday) about how he was undefeated against me. At least we’re even right now.”

SILENT POP: Hayward wasn’t about to divulge if he knew who was responsible for the prank pulled on Rudy Gobert on Monday morning. The Jazz center did not bring his teammates doughnuts for shootaround, and somebody (some buddies?) filled his car with bags of buttered popcorn for shirking his rookie duty.

“No comment on that one,” Hayward said.

So, did his Honda ever got treated like a popcorn bucket during the 2010-11 season? “I never messed up,” Hayward said, smiling. “Me and Jeremy (Evans) were the best rookies this team has ever seen. There’s evidence of that on YouTube with our birthday song.”

SO LONG: After playing the Suns, the Jazz won’t be back home until March 10 while away on a six-game road trip that includes stops in Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

“We need to make sure we get a win before we get out on the road,” Corbin said. “It’s going to be a long trip, the longest trip of the year.”

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com

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