Jazz snap 3-game losing streak with 102-90 win over Kings
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Jazz coach Quin Snyder called Saturday night's game one of the best of Gordon Hayward's career. Then Snyder compared him to Grant Hill.
Hayward scored a game-high 30 points and paced the Jazz to a runaway 102-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
''That's a comparison I probably shouldn't make because it's not fair to Gordon right now,'' Snyder said. ''I'm talking more about his demeanor. There were times I remember Grant didn't look like he was doing all that, but he was competing so hard. I see that in Gordon.
''There's times he makes it look easy because he doesn't look like he's (exerting himself), but he's competing,'' Snyder said. ''He's playing with a lot of confidence right now.''
Hayward did a little bit of everything against the Kings, with dribble-drive runners, floaters, midrange pull-ups and 3-pointers from behind the arc. He shot 56.5 percent from the field, knocked down three 3s and has now scored 24 or more points in seven of nine games.
''The first two shots I had felt like I had a good rhythm after that,'' Hayward said. ''They were going under on some screens and made them pay early. I got some easy ones, some transition buckets. Anytime you do that, it's definitely a good feeling. The basket gets a little wider and I hit some step-backs and the game kind of went on from there.''
The win was a relief for the Jazz, who had lost five of six and were playing their fourth game in five days.
Utah stormed out to a 10-point first-quarter lead and never looked back. Hayward scored nine points in the quarter, including a drive through traffic with a step-back, fadeaway jumper to start an 8-2 run. The Kings shot 26.1 percent from the field in the opening 12 minutes and the Jazz never trailed.
Derrick Favors finished with 20 points for the Jazz and Enes Kanter chipped in 17 and 13 rebounds. Trey Burke had 10 points and four assists off the bench.
DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 27 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Ben McLemore added 15 points while Ramon Sessions and Omri Casspi scored 11 apiece.
Any comeback hopes for the Kings were dashed in the opening moments of the second half. The Jazz sprinted out to a 64-41 lead, the largest of the game, thanks to a 15-2 run started by Hayward's 15-foot jumper while drifting to the left.
''It's pretty confusing. It's all over the place,'' Cousins said about the team atmosphere. ''But it shouldn't be an excuse. We've got to come in and block out the outside distractions and be professional basketball players.''
Jazz: Starting shooting guard Joe Ingles did not play due to lower back spasms. Elijah Millsap started in his place. ... Backup forward Trevor Booker did not enter the game until the fourth quarter. He then scored nine points in 12 minutes on 4-for-5 shooting.
Kings: Starting point guard Darren Collison did not play due to an abdominal strain. Ramon Sessions started in his place. ... The Kings have failed to reach 100 points in their last five games after reaching the plateau in nine of the previous 12 games. ... Rudy Gay, who entered averaging 20.2 points per game, was held to four points in 28:49 minutes.
BACK ON THE BLOCK
Kings interim coach Tyrone Corbin received a warm round of applause from Jazz fans in his first trip to Salt Lake City with another team. He succeeded Jerry Sloan as coach in 2011, but the team did not renew his deal after last season.
Corbin took over the Kings in December after Michael Malone was fired. Corbin declined comment when asked about his job status and the rumors that he could be replaced during the All-Star break.
''In this league, if you look like you feel sorry for yourself, teams are going to embarrass you. ... You can't quit. You can't feel sorry for yourself. Whatever else is going on, you got to get ready and play the game with a lot of effort,'' Corbin said.
Jazz: at the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.
Kings: host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.