Gordon Hayward took yet another step forward in his sixth NBA season, and his third as a full-time starter for the Utah Jazz.
As he looks forward to season No. 7, we’re taking a look back at his Top 5 best performances from Year 6—starting with his breakout 33-point performance in November against the Los Angeles Clippers.
No. 5: Gordon Rips Clips for 33 at Staples
Gordon Hayward’s breakout game came a few weeks into the regular season when he helped the Utah Jazz earn a big road win over a talented Los Angeles Clippers squad.
On Nov. 25, G-Time posted his second-highest scoring output of the season when he dropped 33 points to help the Jazz snap a 13-game skid against the Clippers. Hayward also added seven boards, two assists, three steals and shot 50 percent from the floor in his team’s 102-91 victory.
“I just wanted to win, honestly,” Hayward said after beating the Clips for the first time at the Staples Center. “We haven’t won here against the Clippers[in my career] … I’ve wanted to for a long time. For us to come in and beat them, especially after the way we played [Monday] and we were all down.”
After back-to-back losses for the Jazz and a few rough personal games, Gordon’s stellar performance couldn’t have come at a better time. His effort guided the team from start to finish, as Utah’s star finished the contest with an impressive plus-22 scoring advantage.
“For [Gordon] to produce the way he did offensively and still defend the way he did was great,” Quin Snyder said. “He really threw himself into the game. He hasn’t played as well as he can, and we have high expectations for him on all levels. But I feel like he’s banging on the door, banging on the door.”
No. 20 was locked in early, and he drained two of his five threes midway through the first frame. His back-to-back triples gave the Jazz a six-point lead, but Gordon checked out of the game shortly after, and the Clips managed to claw their way back into it and take a two-point advantage into the second.
“I was able to knock down some threes, and when you see the ball go in the first quarter like that, it’s a good feeling and it kind of gets you going a little bit,” Gordon said.
G-Time got back into the action at the start of the second quarter and quickly helped Utah regain its lead. Gordon made a nice feed to Derrick Favors on Utah’s first possession of the frame to get the Jazz going.
On the ensuing possession, he alertly corralled his own miss and caught the L.A. defense sleeping. After the rebound, Gordon knocked down an open jumper to knot things up at 25.
Trevor Booker put the Jazz up by two on the next trip down the floor, and on the following possession, he made a highlight-reel play to set up another G-Time bucket. Booker chased down a ball going out of bounds and tossed it blindly back over his head. It miraculously found Gordon’s hands, and No. 20 drove in and converted off the hustle play by his teammate to put the Jazz up by four.
At the 7:17 mark, G drained another jumper to put his squad up 32-27, and after the Clippers responded with three consecutive field goals to briefly pull ahead, Hayward’s trifecta put Utah back up by two. Gordon finished the frame with nine points, and the two Western Conference contenders entered the locker room tied at 45.
In a quiet period for Gordon, the Jazz played exceptionally well in the third. Paced by rookie Raul Neto, who tallied 10 points and four assists in the frame, and Favors who also put up 10, the Jazz got out to a five-point lead, 73-68, game going into the fourth. Hayward’s only points of the quarter came on a corner three at the 7:30 mark.
“He handled the pressure,” Hayward said of the Brazilian rookie. “He made great passes, great reads, great shots.”
Whatever slowed down No. 20 in the third was short-lived, as Hayward went back into assassin mode down the stretch to help his group seal the deal. G started with a crafty move, using a pump fake to draw a foul on veteran Paul Pierce. He knocked down both freebies to start an 18-7 Jazz run. Shortly after, he buried a tough off-balance shot to make it a nine-point game.
“We just picked up the energy,” Favors said of Utah’s fourth quarter effort. “They tried to be physical with us, and we just came back and were physical with them. We stayed together as a team, Gordon hit a lot of big shots and we got stops on the defensive end.”
The Clippers sharp-shooters were tough to contain, but Gordon and the Jazz kept attacking as Chris Paul and J.J. Redick hit some big shots to keep Los Angeles alive. Guarded by Paul, Hayward pulled a spin-o-rama to get space and knocked down a jumper over the All-Star point guard to give Utah an 88-75 edge.
On the following possession, after drawing a foul on Blake Griffin, G hit two free throws before challenging the Clipper forward once again. With the shot clock winding down, he split Redick and Griffin, and despite a reach-in by Blake, G-Time drained another jumper and capped off the three-point play at the charity stripe, putting the Jazz up 14 with 5:32 remaining.
With three minutes to play, Favors found Gordon waiting in the corner, and the hot-shooting Hayward buried his fifth from long range to make it a 17-point game and put the game out of reach for Los Angeles.
“It’s one game, so I don’t think you can take too much from it, but it’s definitely a confidence booster for us as a team,” Gordon said.