LOS ANGELES (AP) — The only thing stopping Gordon Hayward in the playoffs was a case of food poisoning.
Utah’s All-Star forward averaged 23.7 points — breaking out for a career-high 40 in Game 3 — over seven games to propel the Jazz into the second round of the playoffs with a 104-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Hayward fell ill in Game 4 and played just nine minutes in Utah’s win. Despite feeling shaky and weak-legged, he returned in Game 5 to score 27 points in another victory.
Bring on Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the top-seeded Golden State Warriors.
“You can see his confidence out there,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said of Hayward. “He’s played through missed shots, contact, hot streaks, you name it. He’s handled that with poise, and he’s a heck of an offensive player. He’s so versatile that he’s hard to guard, and we try to…