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The Skip Pass: Gordon Hayward makes triumphant season debut

Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward (20) runs up court during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

The Skip Pass will be your home on Today’s Fastbreak for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.

Focus Games: Jazz at Knicks, Trail Blazers at Grizzlies

Other Games: Kings at Raptors, Bucks at Mavericks, Nuggets at Celtics

Jazz 114, Knicks 109

Jazz

  • Gordon Hayward made his season debut after missing the beginning of the year with a finger injury. While Hayward shot just 6-of-17 from the field, he still scored 28 points by going 14-of-14 from the free throw line, the most free throws he’s made without a miss in one game.
  • Many lauded the George Hill trade for the Jazz, and the veteran point guard is showing exactly why he’s a great fit for Utah. With a 23-point, nine-assist performance, he’s now averaging 20.0 points and 4.3 assists on the young season.
  • Rudy Gobert. Enough said.

Knicks

  • There’s always so much talk about the triangle offense, but the Knicks’ defense has been utterly atrocious in the early going of the season. New York gave up 50.7 percent shooting against Utah and now has the worst defense in the league.
  • Like the defense, the Knicks’ bench has been a real trouble spot. Every single New York starter had a +/- of 0 or better, while every reserve was in the negative.
  • While Kristaps Porzingis got posterized by Gobert, his 28-point, eight-rebound performance was still encouraging. He has 55 points in the last two games after a three-point dud, and he’s shooting 43.5 percent from three on the season.

Trail Blazers 100, Grizzlies 94

Trail Blazers

  • With Damian Lillard struggling from the field, he deferred to C.J. McCollum to carry the scoring load. McCollum tied a career high with 37 points on 13-of-23 shooting, including 6-of-12 from long range.
  • Moe Harkless had one of his best performances of the season, scoring 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He finished a game-high +17.
  • Rather strangely, Evan Turner didn’t take a single shot in 23 minutes of play. Turner’s had a bizarre start to his season in Portland after inking a huge four-year deal in the summer.

Grizzlies

  • Chandler Parsons made his season debut following knee surgery earlier in 2016, and let’s just say it wasn’t his best performance: 0 points on 0-of-8 shooting. The good news? The knee feels fine. The Grizzlies will need Parsons to find his groove to help an offense that’s shooting under 40 percent as a team on the year.
  • The Grizzlies’ backup point guard situation is in flux. Andrew Harrison was terrible in 17 minutes of action, and rookie Wade Baldwin IV got a DNP-CD thanks to his struggles.
  • On a more positive note, Zach Randolph continues to flourish off the bench. Randolph had 15 points and seven boards, moving his season averages to 13.7 points and 8.0 boards per contest.

Kings 96, Raptors 91

Kings

  • Give a ton of credit to Rudy Gay. The forward was at first considered doubtful to play in this one thanks to a rib injury, but Gay gutted it out and scored a team-high 23 points. He was a game-high +12 and scored nine points in the fourth quarter.

Raptors

  • DeMar DeRozan’s shooting finally came back down to earth. DeRozan’s 7-of-20 outing marked the first time he shot under 40 percent on the year, and his 23 points snapped his streak of 30-point games to start the season.

Mavericks 86, Bucks 75 (OT)

Mavericks

  • Harrison Barnes set a career high with 31 points on Oct. 28, but that mark didn’t last long, as Barnes poured in 34 big points to give the Mavericks their first win of the season. While Dallas as a team has struggled thanks to some key absences (namely Dirk), Barnes has stepped up and is now putting up over 20 points per game.

Bucks

  •  The Bucks shot 36.6 percent from the field, 6-of-29 from three and had a whopping 27 turnovers. It’s extremely hard to win a basketball game with those kinds of numbers. And yet, Milwaukee almost did it, but a one-point overtime sealed the deal on a dreadful offensive showing.

Nuggets 123, Celtics 107

Nuggets

  • Things couldn’t get much worse for Emmanuel Mudiay after a string of woeful shooting performances to start the season, but the second-year man broke out in a big way in an impressive win over Boston. His best shooting game heading into this one was 35.3 percent, but he shot a scorching 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) on Sunday. He also knocked down three three-pointers, matching the amount of threes he’d hit all year coming in. He finished with 30 points, with 24 of those coming in the first quarter.

Celtics

  • The Celtics have been without some key players at different points to start the year, including Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk. Even so, Boston’s ineptitude on the defensive end has been stunning. The Celtics gave up 77 first-half points, and they now have the second-worst defensive rating in the entire league.

Lakers 114, Suns 109

Lakers

  • BREAK UP THE LAKERS! Los Angeles won its third game in a row and moved to 3-0 at home with another fun victory. The Lakers had six players score in double figures (Nick Young led the way with 22!), and they’re averaging 119.7 points during the winning  streak.

Suns

  • One game after scoring a career-high 38 points, 20-year-old Devin Booker bested it with 39 points in LA. Booker went 10-of-10 from the line and also added seven assists to his ledger. After a slow start to the year that featured a minor injury, the youngster is showing just how good he could be. He became the youngest player ever to score at least 38 points in consecutive games.

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