Derrick Favors' confidence isn't just growing on the court. It's building in the Jazz's locker room, too.
Favors used to quietly speak during interviews, and he was the shyest player on Utah's roster after joining the team last February.
His demeanor began changing during the NBA lockout while he worked out in Atlanta. He entered training camp saying he was open to starting if that's what coach Tyrone Corbin wanted. And Favors had a distinct gleam in his eye Tuesday, following a career-high five blocks in the Jazz's 85-73 home win against Milwaukee.
Favors on playing tough defense: It means a lot. It helps you get that reputation — you're a shot-blocker or whatever. It's good for the team to have somebody like that.
Inspiring teammates with his energy: The starters, they'll come out and sometimes they'll come out ready, sometimes they might need some energy. So coach comes to the bench and relies on us to bring that energy.
Learning to play defense without fouling: Yeah, I think I'm learning. Just being in the right spot at the right time. Keeping my man from getting to the position where he can score and being active.
Playing with Enes Kanter: It's fun. He can get the rebounds, I go out and do what I do and vice-versa. It's fun playing with him.
Utah entered the game tied for the NBA lead in average blocks (6.6) and the Jazz recorded a season-high 12 against the Bucks.
Despite the win, Utah's postgame locker room was fairly quiet. Players were recovering, getting treatment, hobbling out, etc. Which made Corbin's decision to practice Wednesday even more surprising.
The game was absolutely, unequivocally u-g-l-y ugly — proof the ghost of the 2011 NBA lockout still lives. Milwaukee was forbidden from scoring. Utah was exhausted by the third quarter. Jamaal Tinsley played more than Josh Howard. But the Jazz moved to 3-3, exceeding initial expectations and doing exactly what Corbin has requested: they stuck together and played tough.
"We caught a second wind — a third wind, I should say," Utah center Al Jefferson said. "We just kept fighting. We could've let this game slip away when they cut it to three or four. We knew that if we get stops we could run out, and that's what we did. C.J. [Miles] came up with some big steals and Earl [Watson] was very active. … We was playing like was six points behind instead of six points ahead."
Jefferson on Bucks center Andrew Bogut missing the game: "Thank God. I hope everything good with whatever his personal reason was, but he's a great player, man … and I just looked at it, like, 'Thank God.' "
Jefferson, Corbin and Miles acknowledged Utah's .500 record feels better than it looks on paper. After three blowout road losses, the Jazz have pulled out three tough wins at home.
"If feel good," Jefferson said. "But at the same time, we don't have long to celebrate. … We've just got to continue to build off of it. And I think what we have continue to prove these three games we won is, it's defense. If you go back to that Philly game, what won it for us was hard defense. And we've just got to carry that to the road."
Miles: It feels better from the way we started the season — people are panicking and thinking it's going to be bad. And we've been able to pull together.
Devin Harris on the game: It wasn't a pretty game on either end. A lot of turnovers. A lot of missed shots. It was kind of a grindout game. But I thought the bench came in and gave us a big lift and, obviously, we had our workhorse down there with Big Al.
His injury: It's all right. It's not as serious as I thought. But we definitely wanted to get off it and not injure it further.
Howard on his injury: I felt it tweak on that foul when I fouled Shaun Livingston. I planted and it felt like it knotted up. I came back in and got some treatment immediately. … I had a little bit of trouble [with it lately]. It's mostly just getting acclimated to playing ball again.
Watson played 23 minutes. Zero points on one shot, eight assists and three steals. Invaluable NBA backup point guard.
Alec Burks is starting to make a dent at shooting guard. The No. 12 pick during 2011 tied for fourth on the Jazz in scoring (nine points) and attempted a game-high 10 free throws.
Burks: I'm aggressive at anytime. That's how I play. I attack. That's how I was brought up. You attack or get attacked. So that's how I play.
Kanter = The Magnet. Or Pac-Man. Twelve minutes and five rebounds. He still hasn't shown off his midrange shot. But all he's trying to do when he enters game is rebound and play defense and he's doing it.
Very little production again from Raja Bell (three points, four shots, 12 minutes), who's clearly in a tough spot right now.
Harris and Jefferson were clicking during the first half. Jefferson scored 19 points, while Harris dished out six assists.
Jeremy Evans has become the low man on Corbin's rotational totem pole. Evans played just 1:04 despite the obvious exhaustion Utah dealt with.
The Jazz scored 23 points or less in all four quarters, just 40 in the second and third combined, and still won. Again: ugly game.
Utah and the Bucks shot a sparkling 5 of 34 beyond the arc.
Bucks forward Stephen Jackson temporarily looked for a fight but never found one.
Jackson, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Brandon Jennings combined to shoot 11 of 52 from the floor.
Steve Luhm contributed reporting
Brian T. Smith
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