SALT LAKE CITY – His former team-mates on Utah Jazz had no interest in the juicy plot of the return of Gordon Hayward, the former face of the franchise who was fired at a free agency for more pastures Boston greens.
"You guys will pick up your stories now," Joe Ingles said hurriedly after playing the 123-115 Jazz victory on the Boston Celtics on Friday. "We hope to get on with life, at the end of the day it was Boston vs Jazz, it had nothing to do with a person or whatever it was."
Try to tell Jae Crowder.
Celtics striker Gordon Hayward concluded with 13 points on Friday night, playing in Utah for the first time since he left the free seat. Hayward was whistled loudly by Jazz fans who had previously acclaimed his every move.
If Gordon Hayward expects regret and desire when he returns to Utah on Friday, he will be disappointed. The Jazz are gaga on Donovan Mitchell now.
A season away from leaving the Jazz, Gordon Hayward makes his long-awaited return to Utah in a very different place than when he joined the Celtics.
Crowder did his best to set up the company line, triggering clichés like "We had to focus on ourselves," the media horde surrounding his locker. It was all true, but this was definitely not another game for the former Celtic who was deeply offended by Boston fans who sang the Hayward name when Jazz visited TD Garden months before the All-Star hit the free market. And Crowder readily admits he will always hold a grudge against the Celtics for putting it in the package they sent to Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving.
So, yes, it was particularly sweet for Crowder to hit that dagger 3 from the corner with 28 seconds remaining – in case you could not know it from Crowder who was staring at the Celtics bench as he jumped along the opposite sideline.
"It feels good," Crowder told ESPN with a big smile. "I'll like it tonight really he wanted to win this game. I really wanted to win the game. It does not matter if I played well or badly, I just wanted to win the game. Obviously, I was able to play well. It means a lot to me to get this victory. We see these guys in about a week, and I want to get that victory too. "
It is a little appropriate that Ingles and Crowder, two boys who will always be bound to Hayward in totally different ways, have played such important roles in this victory.
Ingles, as you've surely heard, was Hayward's best friend on Jazz. Their friendship, as well as the fact that both are represented by agent Mark Bartelstein, got a lot of attention after Jazz signed a contract in four years, $ 52 million before Hayward's decision a couple of summers ago.
Did Jazz want Ingles to embark before their meeting with Hayward? Sure. But the The suggestion that Ingles was paid because of his relationship with Hayward was always ridiculous.
Of course, there are not many criticisms about that contract these days. Not after Ingles, who became a full-time starter for the first time since Hayward's departure, played such a critical role in helping Utah return to the second round of last season's playoffs. His performance in the Celtics victory – 27 points in his career with 10 points out of 14 with 5 rebounds and 7 assists – reminded the basketball world of its value.
"Honestly, I could not care less," Ingles told ESPN. "I understood [contract] regardless now, so that they can say anything they want. I do not really think about it too much. It's kind of the same story as when I came here. I was coming to mentor [fellow Australian Dante Exum]. I was signing to try and keep Gordon the second thing. I do not really care.
"I know the organization, the Miller, [general manager Dennis Lindsey], the coach and my teammates appreciate what I do and what I bring to the team. This is all that really interests me. "
Jazz also has a great appreciation for what Crowder brings to the team. It was a key part of the notable Jazz turnaround last season after arriving in a commercial expiration agreement from the Cavaliers, providing the versatility to play small ball ahead in Utah's favorite closing formation and fiery hardness.
"He has a heartbeat you can hear," said Jazz Quin Snyder coach, who wrapped Crowder's embrace after the win.
Ricky Rubio makes a perfect fake and then gives it to Jae Crowder, who breaks down a 3-pointer.
For the record, Crowder is rather grateful to have been mistaken by Cleveland, in contrast to his feelings for Boston. And he is proud to firmly believe that Boston has made a mistake in moving it.
"They know," Crowder said when asked if he wanted to try that point on Friday, when he had 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists from the bench, including eight points in the last five minutes. "Leave it to that."
With all due respect, Boston has every right to believe otherwise, considering Irving's excellence. But that kind of logic is not going to hinder Crowder's competitive focus.
"He loves this kind of games," he said Donovan Mitchell, the young star who has played Hayward as the jazz go-to. "This is the kind of competitor that is."
Donovan Mitchell surpasses Gordon Hayward for a floater and Jazz fans love it.
Ingles is a different type of competitor, a calming influence for Jazz. He's also a poster fan for the Utah player development program, coming as a pickup of a pile of debris in October 2014 that he had never played in the NBA and improving to become an important piece of a play-off team. He became an elite 3-point shooter and a clever pick-and-roll builder, a skill he often showed at his friend Hayward's expense on Friday night, to the delight of the turbulent crowd.
"It was not a specific one, like," Let's take it as a target, "said Ingles of Jazz who put Hayward in the pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll during his first half of twenty points and four assists. "We found some things in advance that we kept coming back".
Jazz, a franchise that many expected to return to irrelevance after Hayward had left, found the formula a factor in the West. Ingles and Crowder are essential elements of this, allowing Utah to move forward with life and maintain the same noble ambitions.
UTAH I ❤️ YOU. !! https://t.co/KQ9Kpg3Oh5
– JAE CROWDER (@ CJC9BOSS) 10 November 2018