NEW YORK (AP) — Gordon Hayward quickly regained his scoring touch, especially from the foul line.
Hayward made all 14 of his free throws and finished with 28 points in his season debut, leading the Utah Jazz over the New York Knicks 114-109 Sunday.
Hayward had been sidelined since breaking his right ring finger in training camp. He led the team in scoring last season, averaging nearly 20 points per game.
“I think any time you add a player of his caliber, everybody gets to do what they’re good at a little easier,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
“There’s a trickle-down effect. I think he gives guys confidence. It allows us to play small with more size and more force,” he said.
Hayward shot 6 of 17 from the field, including 2 of 8 on 3-pointers.
“I think, hopefully, we can be better than we were last year,” he said. “That’s kind of been our mindset. We wanted to close out more games than last year. We had a big one tonight that we closed out.”
George Hill had 23 points and nine assists for the Jazz, who have won three of four. Rodney Hood added 18 points while Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors each had 13.
Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis each scored 28 for the Knicks, who have lost three of four. Derrick Rose had 18.
The Jazz reeled off nine straight points to begin the fourth quarter for an 87-80 and never trailed again.
“This is a game that I felt we kind of let slide and slip from us,” Anthony said. “We gave this game away. Whatever was the cause of it, we let this one slip out of our hands.”
Porzingis and Anthony combined for 24 points in the first quarter, shooting 10 of 12 to help the Knicks take a 30-20 lead.
Hayward scored 10 in the second quarter as the Jazz closed to 54-49 at halftime. Porzingis and Anthony totaled 14 points in the third period for an 80-78 lead.
Hood scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, as did Rose
“(Hood) was aggressive,” Hill said. “When he’s aggressive, we’re a different team. Like I told him going into the fourth quarter when Gordon and I were sitting down, he has to take over the game.”
“Even though Gordon’s back, we need him to be aggressive and be another force on that offensive end,” he said.
Jazz: Joe Johnson came off the bench for the first time since Dec. 9, 2003. He scored 10 points. … Alec Burks (ankle) and Boris Diaw (leg) did not dress.
Knicks: Coach Jeff Hornacek praised Hayward before the game, saying, “If he wasn’t in the West, he’d probably have been an All-Star by now.” The coach added: “I think the game has slowed down for him. It seems very easy for him. He knows exactly what he’s doing out there in pick-and-rolls, where to get his shots, when to take the big shots.” … Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee were inactive.
“People lead in different ways,” Rose said. “You have your leaders like Kobe (Bryant). He’s more personal, he’s more intimate and in your face about it. You have leaders like myself and you’ve got Tim Duncan, where we lead by example by coming in every day, being consistent with our workouts and just showing people that we’re focused and we’re trying to get better. I lead by example.”
Jazz: Visit Philadelphia on Monday.
Knicks: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday.