Utah Jazz missing Hayward, Favors in preseason road win over the Clippers

Utah Jazz missing Hayward, Favors in preseason road win over the Clippers

LOS ANGELES — All summer long, the Utah Jazz and their fans optimistically clamored about the additions of offseason acquisitions Joe Johnson, George Hill and Boris Diaw.

Even Clippers coach Doc Rivers understands the excitement in Jazzland.

“It’s huge,” Rivers said before Monday’s game at Staples Center. “Listen, Utah’s good. They have a great coach. They have great young players. Last year what you couldn’t say is that they have a bunch of great veterans, and now they have that.”

Only three games into the preseason, Utah’s three veteran newcomers each ended up in the starting lineup together for this preseason 96-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Unfortunately for the Jazz, this scenario wasn’t simply a Quin Snyder lineup experiment, although it certainly provided that opportunity.

This was Utah’s first game since Gordon Hayward broke his left ring finger, sidelining him for up to six weeks. The Jazz were also without power forward Derrick Favors, who has IT band syndrome and is nursing a left knee bone bruise.

With neither of the regular starters in L.A., Snyder opted to insert Johnson and Diaw into the forward positions at the tip of this one.

That lineup seemed to work well as Utah established an early lead and went ahead by double figures before the Clippers made a second-half comeback.

With the Jazz missing their best player and top scorer, Rodney Hood had his best game of the preseason. Hood, who missed Wednesday’s win at Phoenix with a sore left hand, hit 7 of 9 shots for a game-high 17 points.

Hill also had a strong effort, scoring 10 points with eight rebounds, four assists and one impressive, soaring blocked shot. Backup guard Shelvin Mack added 12 points.

Chris Johnson hit two free throws with 30.7 seconds remaining to give the Jazz a two-point lead, a moment after Weber State rookie Joel Bolomboy had a strong offensive rebound and dunk to help keep Utah in the mix late.

Utah’s subs stopped the Clippers on the ensuing possession, and the Jazz stretched their lead to three after Joe Ingles split a pair of free throws. Jamal Crawford had a chance to tie it up after referees called Bolomboy for a foul behind the 3-point line, but he missed the first of three free throws.

The two teams traded turnovers, and Chris Johnson put Utah up by two with a free throw. He missed the second foul shot, but Joe Ingles iced the win for the Jazz by grabbing the offensive rebound and running out the clock.

While it’s uncertain how long Hayward will be out — as much as six weeks — Snyder isn’t too concerned with Favors’ health situation.

“Just soreness in his IT band,” Snyder said. “It’s something like any situation, you continue to treat it and monitor it.”

In terms of Hayward’s absence, the Jazz coach said his players need to adhere to “the next-man up mentality,” something they got used to during an injury-plagued 2015-16 season.

“You kind of go there. You’d rather have him (Hayward) up too, but I don’t think it’s something we’ll overreact to,” Snyder said. “The process of figuring out more about our team is probably more organic than any significant event.”

Snyder feels comfortable replacing Hayward with the 35-year-old Johnson, a seven-time All-Star who has 1,072 starts in his NBA career.

“Fortunately we’ve got somebody who’s done that before,” Snyder said of Johnson being a starter. “He’s a good player, a good guy to have in these situations. I think that’s been the good thing about Joe — when people say, ‘Hey whatever you need,’ he means it.”

So far this preseason, that has meant a focus on defense and mentoring rather than an offense for Johnson, who’s averaged 11.3 points in 15 NBA seasons but who’d only scored four points in his first to exhibition games with the Jazz.

Johnson scored nine points with three rebounds in 24 minutes in Monday’s game. Before the game, he said he wasn’t going to try to aggressively assert himself into a more prominent scoring role just because of Hayward’s absence.

“It’s just whatever the team needs,” Johnson said. “Obviously we’ve lost a key piece to our team for however long. I don’t think anyone knows at this point. Until then we’ll try to hold the fort up until he gets back.”

JAZZ NOTES: Utah plays its first home game of the preseason Wednesday night against Phoenix. The Jazz beat the Suns 104-99 on the road last Wednesday. … Guard Alec Burks (knee) traveled with the team to continue his rehabilitation but did not dress. … The Jazz were 0-5 all-time in the preseason at the Staples Center against the Clippers coming into this one. … Utah’s final three exhibition games will be played at Vivint Arena. … Jazz SF Joe Ingles’ NBA career began with the Clippers in 2014. The Aussie was cut just prior to the beginning of that season by L.A. and was quickly picked up by Utah.

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com


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Published at Tue, 11 Oct 2016 05:22:00 +0000