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Gordon Hayward looks ahead to Denver after another poor shooting night

HOUSTON — Gordon Hayward clearly didn’t want to speak to the media after another rough game for the Jazz forward. He had shot just 7 for 27 in the previous two games, and he wasn’t any better in a Saturday loss to Houston, finishing with just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Hayward, who is nearly always genial during interviews, preferred just to look ahead and talk about Sunday’s game in Denver.

“On to the next game,” were his first words.

What about your recent slump?

“I’m just not playing well … got another game tomorrow.”

Is your finger bothering you?

“Uh, it has nothing to do with my finger … we’ll play tomorrow.”

Hayward missed all of the preseason and the first six regular-season games because of a broken finger on his non-shooting hand, but came back strong, averaging 24.4 points on 45.5 percent shooting in his first five games back.

However in the last three games, he’s only averaging 10 points on 23.8 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent from 3-point range.

Coach Quin Snyder said he doesn’t know if Hayward’s finger is a factor, but he still has confidence in him.

“I did think he was more aggressive in shooting the ball,” he said. “There’s going to be times where he’s not as good as he was the previous game. The key thing for him is just to keep building and stay aggressive and keep playing the right way.”

MORE FREE THROWS: Snyder was disappointed Hayward only got one free throw attempt — on a technical foul, which he missed — after averaging nearly six per game this season.

“I was surprised he didn’t get to the line more than he did, the way he was taking it to the hole," Snyder said. "Hopefully he can keep attacking and get rewarded with more free throws.”

PRAISE FOR JAZZ PLAYERS: Houston coach Mike D’Antoni is in his fifth NBA coaching gig as the head coach of the Rockets. His longest stint came in Phoenix (2003-08) during which time he coached two current Jazz players, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw, who he still has a fondness for.

“Those are two of my favorite players,” D’Anthoni said. “They’ve been great players. Their personality … both can play, they’re smart, low maintenance, good guys in the community … just two good guys.”

TOUGH TRIP DOWN: NBA teams all fly on private jets these days and don’t have to mess with commercial flights like NBA teams of the past.

Friday, the Jazz would have preferred to go commercial.

Their flight was set to take off in Salt Lake at 3 p.m., but due to mechanical issues and a change of planes, the flight didn’t leave until after 8 p.m. That got the team into Houston around midnight and with the long drive to the airport, they didn’t get to bed until after 1 a.m.

JAZZ NOTES: Boris Diaw didn’t play Saturday because of a strained groin. Also missing the game were George Hill, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks. … The Jazz will play at Denver at 7 p.m. Sunday. … Utah and Houston will play again Nov. 29 in Salt Lake and again in Houston on March 8. … Last year, the Jazz and Rockets split their four games, each winning one game at home and one on the road.