The Jazz were an unknown quantity when they last played the Spurs. They had beaten Dallas, and lost in New Orleans.
Mo Williams was firing at will, and the Spurs were not yet known to be the NBA’s best team, which we now can say based on record).
The Jazz (12-10) lost in San Antonio 110-100 on Nov. 3 despite being tied entering the fourth quarter.
“You’re looking at a different team right now,” Jazz forward Paul Millsap said.
The Jazz only can hope so. They have lost 11 of their last 12 games against the Spurs (18-4), including a four-game sweep in last year’s playoffs.
“We got to make it uncomfortable for them on the defensive end,” Millsap said. “If they sit back and take those rhythm shots that they’re used to getting, it’s going to be a long night for us.”
The Jazz believe they captured the key in the third quarter of that November game, when they outscored the Spurs 35-17, including Mo Williams scoring 13 of 15 points to close the period.
“How we played in the third quarter,” Millsap said, “that’s how we want to play the whole game.”
A potential disadvantage for the Jazz is the status of Derrick Favors. Although the defensive-minded forward may return against the Jazz, he still is coming off a five-game stretch in which he did not play and could be rusty.
Favors, who has plantar fasciitis in his right foot, said he will test the foot during pregame workouts.
“If it feels good,” he said, “I’ll go.”
Favors said he experienced soreness in the foot during Tuesday’s practice, but that it was better during shoot around Wednesday.
The Jazz could use him against veteran Tim Duncan, who averages nearly a double-double (17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds) to lead six Spurs players in double figures.
“Tim Duncan is Tim Duncan, man,” Al Jefferson said. “He’s a vet, he’s a professional. He’s been doing it for many years. He knows how to do it.”
Duncan is in his 16th year in the NBA.
“I don’t see him getting older,” Jefferson said. “Just see him getting smarter, getting better.”