SALT LAKE CITY — Along with wet, shaggy hair and a scruffy beard, Jazz wingman Gordon Hayward wore something new late Saturday night after helping his team beat the Indian Pacers in overtime.
He wore a shoulder sling.
Hayward’s turnovers at the end of regulation cost the Jazz a chance to win, but the third-year player make up for it in the closing seconds of overtime when he forced a turnover that ultimately helped seal the win. However, in the process he also suffered a shoulder injury — team officials called it a sprain — which has him officially listed as day-to-day.
That means his status for tonight’s home game with the Houston Rockets is up in the air.
“It’s a little tender but I think I’ll be alright,” he said.
Initially, it appeared Hayward blocked Paul George’s shot with 8.9 seconds remaining but replays showed George lost control of the ball, which Hayward secured.
He then was bumped by Indiana’s David West, who tried to foul him in order to stop the clock, sending a shot of pain through Hayward’s right shoulder.
“It was right there at the end,” he said. “They did a shut-the-gate play and (I) tried to go through the gate and that’s when it happened.”
“Right when it happened, I felt it,” he added. “(West) set a good hard screen and I tried to fight through it. It was kind of two shoulders colliding and that’s when it happened.”
He also noted he’d never experienced an injury like that in his career, but reiterated, “I’ll be alright.”
Hayward is expected to test his shoulder during this morning’s shootaround.
Asked what his immediate treatment plan was, Hayward said his only plan was to heed the advice of the team’s medial personnel.
In fact, after showering and dressing after Saturday’s game he initially came to his locker for a session with the media but was called back to a closed-off area of the locker room and given a shoulder brace.
“I know they’ll get me back and ready to go,” he said.
An Indiana native and a Pacers fan growing up, Saturday’s win meant a little more to Hayward.
When the Jazz met the Pacers in Indianapolis earlier in the season, the former Butler University standout was held to just eight points while shooting 2-for-6 from the field.
For the rematch, the 22-year-old came off the bench for 15 points, six assists and two steals.
On the other hand, he also had six turnovers, including three in the final minute.
“Some bad plays by me,” he said. “(I) rushed things a little bit too much. I think you’ve got to give them some credit, (they made) good defensive plays for sure.”
For the good or the bad, Hayward said he wouldn’t dwell on the game either way.
He was happy to get the win, which moved the Jazz to 24-20 and gave them six consecutive home victories, but he wasn’t about to beat himself up over the mistakes he made.
The focus now is tonight’s game with the Rockets (24-22).
The Jazz will also play host to New Orleans (Wednesday) and Portland (Friday).
“You’ve got to move on,” Hayward said. “We’ve got three important games at home this week. We’ve got to make sure we learn from the mistakes we made in this game and try to not do that next time.”