SALT LAKE CITY — Jeremy Evans and Gordon Hayward have been close friends since they were drafted by the Jazz in 2010.
With that in mind, it was funny but not all too surprising when Evans playfully teased his buddy when asked about how much Utah could use Hayward. The Jazz have gone 2-3 since the shooting guard suffered a lingering muscle strain in his left hip.
“We need everybody,” Evans said, “and Gordon is a big key.”
Within earshot of Hayward, the forward then added with a laugh: “We’re waiting on him to get off vacation.”
Hayward laughed as he was being teased while leaving the visitors locker room at Target Center following the Jazz’s rough 98-72 defeat by Minnesota.
Truth be told, Hayward would rather be playing or on a vacation than doing what he’s doing — nursing his left hip flexor, which flared up after his career-high 37-point performance in that win over Oklahoma City.
Hayward and the Jazz have been in limbo since the injury happened. He’s now been out for 10 days while being listed as a game-time decision for most of his absence.
“We’ve been weathering the storm pretty good, but we need Gordon,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We can play better than we did (Saturday). We just didn’t have it.”
It’s unknown whether or not Hayward will be cleared to play by Tuesday night when the Jazz host the T-Wolves.
NO EXCUSES: It’s possible the Jazz were spent in Saturday’s meltdown after playing their third road game in four nights and their fourth game in six days.
They didn’t use that excuse to try to justify a franchise-low 28.8 percent shooting and a season-low 72 points, though.
“Maybe our legs were a little tired,” Jazz forward Marvin Williams said. “But you can’t make excuses about that. You’ve got to go out there and compete every night.”
That’s the lesson Corbin hopes his young players take from a beating. He cited the team’s lack of energy for resulting in “just no rhythm” and the Jazz playing “kind of soft” against a hungry T-Wolves team that had lost three straight overall and five in a row to Utah.
“You can look at all those things and look for an excuse,” Corbin said. “But in this league, you’re going to have play and find a way to get it going sometimes when you’re not feeling your best, and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
DEFLATED MEMORY: One of Minnesota’s famous landmarks, the Metrodome, is in the process of being demolished. On Saturday morning, the dome’s famous puffy white Teflon top, which collapsed under snow three years ago, was deflated for the final time. The building, around since 1982, will be excavated next month.
Corbin excitedly recounted “great memories” of being on the inaugural Timberwolves team in 1989-90 when the squad played in the Metrodome before the Target Center was constructed.
The Minnesota cold was a shock to Corbin, who’d previously played in Phoenix during his 16-year career. He laughed while recalling “the long runs to the locker room at halftime," how cold it was to walk from the parking lot to the building and how T-Wolves fans showed up in droves in frigid weather to support their new team.
“It was freezing,” he said. “The fans were great. They came out and supported us. It was a fun time to be around."
Corbin played in Minnesota from 1989-91 before beginning a stint with the Jazz from 1991-94.
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