Hornacek is now the Phoenix Suns' head coach, no longer a Jazz
assistant, but his presence at EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday
coincided with one of Hayward's best performances in a while.
Hayward flirted with his first triple-double, finishing with 17
points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and seven Jazz players scored
in double figures during Utah's 109-86 victory over the Suns.
Hayward showed signs of breaking out of his month-long shooting
slump, hitting seven of 13 attempts from the field. He didn't play
the final six minutes, missing out on getting Utah's first
triple-double since 2008.
"It was close, but it just didn't work out. I am just happy we got
the win," Hayward said. "All my teammates told me, 'Get one more
assist,' so I knew. It was a blowout game. We had the lead and the
win, so you don't want to risk anything."
The Jazz (21-36) cruised to their second straight win overall and
The slumping Suns, trying to hold onto the final playoff spot in the
Western Conference, had a couple of built-in excuses for a poor
performance and their third straight loss.
The visitors were more undermanned than usual, as leading scorer and
playmaker Goran Dragic (sprained ankle) didn't suit up. Phoenix
(33-24) also was without guard Eric Bledsoe (knee), guard Leandro
Barbosa (toe) and center Viacheslav Kravtsov (ankle).
Phoenix also traveled to Utah late Tuesday night after losing to the
Minnesota Timberwolves at home.
"We played last night," Hornacek said, "and being short-handed, it
looked like we just ran out of gas."
Suns guard Gerald Green scored a team-high 17 points, including two
highlight-reel dunks in the first half. Point guard Ish Smith, who
started for Dragic, finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and five
Small forward Richard Jefferson scored 17 points, and center Derrick
Favors, guard Alec Burks and point guard Diante Garrett each
contributed 15 points for Utah. Garrett hit six of nine field goals
and three of four from 3-point range en route to his career high
against the team he played 19 games with last season.
The Jazz improved to 2-2 against the Suns.
Hornacek, a former All-Star shooting guard, was on the Jazz's NBA
Finals clubs in 1997 and '98, and he was a coach in various
capacities for Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan and current coach Tyrone
Corbin from 2007-13 before being hired by Phoenix last May.
The 23-point margin was Utah's largest winning spread of the year.
Utah's previous largest margin of victory was 21 in road games at
Sacramento and Detroit.
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"We did a good job of stopping them in transition," Jazz point guard
Trey Burke said. "We moved the ball really well and got the shots
that we wanted. ... No one was selfish out there."
Utah, which only averages 95 points a game, improved to 14-2 when it
scores more than 103 points.
The Jazz, who shot 56.8 percent compared to Phoenix's 38.8 percent
clip, outscored the Suns 56-42 in the second half to turn the
contest into a blowout.
Utah played its final home game until March 10, when former Jazz
forward Paul Millsap makes his first return with the Atlanta Hawks.
The Jazz kick off a six-game road trip Friday in Cleveland against
The Suns begin a four-game homestand Friday against the New Orleans
"We have to get a good win the next game," Hornacek said. "We can
tell them that. We can talk about it. We had a four-game losing
streak earlier in the season, and then we bounced back and had a
pretty good run. ... You kind of just flush this one away."
If Hayward had notched one more assist, he would have posted the
Jazz's first triple-double since Carlos Boozer tallied 22 points, 11
rebounds and 10 assists at Seattle on Feb. 13, 2008. Hayward, who
shot just 30 percent in his previous 13 games, isn't satisfied that
he is completely out of his funk.
"I am still not where I want to be," he said. "I thought I was a
little more active tonight, starting defensively and was able to get
some rebounds and push it myself."
NOTES: Suns PG Goran Dragic was sidelined after spraining his right
ankle in Tuesday's home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. "You
know Goran. He wants to try, but it makes sense to keep him out.
It's pretty sore and swollen," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said.
"Maybe we'll get him back for Friday." ... Jazz teammates Gordon
Hayward and John Lucas III participated in a tennis target-hitting
competition Tuesday during a Champions Challenge event featuring
retired greats John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and James
Blake. Both Hayward and Lucas were accomplished tennis players as
teenagers, but they combined to hit one of six targets. "For the
record, (Lucas) didn't hit any of the targets," Hayward said. "I've
got one up on him right now." Now the Jazz players want to take
their rivalry to the tennis court. Lucas: "I have placement in where
I put the ball. I would have Gordon on the run. He'd be out of
shape." Who would win? Rookie G Trey Burke: "I've never seen either
one of them play. All I've heard was talk from both of them."
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