Gordon Hayward is on a roll and the Utah Jazz keep winning basketball games. The Utah small forward aims to reach 20 points for a career-best sixth consecutive contest and the Jazz shoot to win their fifth straight game when they host the Miami Heat on Thursday.
Hayward tallied a season-best 31 points in Tuesday’s 120-101 rout of the Houston Rockets and made his latest strong effort sound simple. “I started to get some better looks in the fourth quarter and got in a little bit of a rhythm,” Hayward told reporters. “Teammates found me in good spots, able to knock down some shots and see the ball go in. And that was that.” Miami began a stretch of six of seven games on the road with a solid 106-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Center Hassan Whiteside had 25 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots for his 15th double-double of the campaign.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), ROOT (Utah)
ABOUT THE HEAT (6-12): Miami was expecting guard Tyler Johnson to miss his second straight game but he played against the Nuggets and contributed 18 points and seven assists in 28 minutes off the bench. Johnson had oral surgery Monday after having an implant knocked out during a recent game and played with a fitted mouth guard. “I can’t miss games because I’m missing teeth,” Johnson told reporters. “My goal was to play all 82 (games) and now I’m going to have to change it up and wear the mouthpiece.”
ABOUT THE JAZZ (11-8): Hayward is putting together an All-Star caliber season and is averaging 25.2 points during his five-game streak to raise his season average to 21.4. Utah power forward Derrick Favors (knee) has missed the past seven games and center Rudy Gobert has stepped up his play during Favors’ absence. Gobert registered 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots against the Rockets for his fourth straight double-double and 11th of the season and he is shooting a stellar 63.4 percent from the field.
1. Hayward recorded 25 points and nine rebounds as the Jazz posted a 102-91 victory over the Heat on Nov. 12.
2. Miami SG Dion Waiters (thigh) will be re-evaluated in two weeks after an MRI exam revealed a torn muscle.
3. Utah SG Rodney Hood (hamstring) is questionable after being injured Tuesday with an ensuing MRI exam displaying no major damage.
PREDICTION: Jazz 98, Heat 92