SALT LAKE CITY -- A little more than a week after getting throttled by 29 points at Madison Square Garden, Gordon Hayward and his Utah Jazz teammates are ready for a second chance.
Hayward, newly returned to Utah's starting lineup, scored 17 points and had eight rebounds and three assists Saturday night in a 90-84 victory over Memphis at EnergySolutions Arena. After the game he couldn't help but recall the Jazz's 113-84 loss March 9 in New York City.
The Knicks will visit ESA tonight for a rematch.
"We owe them some," Hayward said.
The Jazz (34-32) breathed a sigh of relief beating the Grizzlies. On the heels of the 29-point loss at New York and a 24-point loss at Oklahoma City, Utah was in need of any sort of victory.
The Jazz continue to scrap for position in the Western Conference playoff chase.
Going into Sunday's NBA schedule, the Los Angeles Lakers owned a half-game lead over Utah for the No. 8 spot in the West standings.
Meanwhile, the Knicks (38-26) lost to the Clippers Sunday afternoon in L.A.
It was their fourth consecutive loss.
Hayward said the Jazz don't want to waste the momentum they built Saturday night.
"(Beating Memphis was) a confidence-booster for sure," he said. "We've got to make sure we carry this momentum that we have into New York. We've got to play like this -- the way we played defense, the way we shared the basketball -- we've got to play like that every game."
Coach Tyrone Corbin opted to put Hayward in the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 16, 2012.
Hayward had been effective as Utah's sixth man, averaging 14.1 points per game.
As a starter he played along side the Jazz's top scorers, center Al Jefferson (17.4 ppg) and power forward Paul Millsap (15.0 ppg). That limited the Butler product's effectiveness on the offensive end of the floor and Corbin ultimately decided to move Hayward to the bench.
Last week the third-year head coach hinted he was thinking about making a lineup change and before Saturday's game he finally decided to do it.
Corbin said at this point in the season his reservations about Hayward playing with Jefferson and Millsap have dissipated.
It seems they've changed out of necessity.
The Jazz have lost eight of their last 11 games in part because opposing teams have keyed on Jefferson and Millsap, who have been battling injuries.
Having Hayward on the court with them keeps defenses honest.
The Grizzlies experience that first-hand when they tried to double team Utah's bigs.
"We need to have guys on the floor that (can help move the ball) from strong side to weak side," he said. "(Opposing teams) are locking into our big guys in Paul and Al on the strong side. We've got to be able to get the ball to the weak side so we can attack from the back side."
Jefferson said he thought being in the starting lineup took some pressure off Hayward.
Coming off the bench he often became the focus of the opponents' defense. As a starter, teams can't key on him as much.
"He could kind of just wait and let the ball come to him," he said. "Tonight he really hit a lot of open shots and made the defense pay."
Randy Foye, Utah's starting two-guard, said he noticed he was getting different looks at the basket with Hayward in the lineup.
He said when Jefferson hit him for an open 3-pointer late in the third quarter, he could tell the Grizzlies' defense was sagging toward the middle.
"It just was like, 'You've got to be honest now,'" he said. "It's like, pick your poison basically. We work really hard at and take a lot of pride in what we do and being on (the weak side) I'm going to get a shot or I'm going to get an assist."