Jazz's Hayward, Favors already enjoying NBA All-Star spotlight
Orlando, Fla. • Same team. Entirely different environment.
That was the setup Friday morning for the Jazz's Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors at the Orange County Convention Center.
The young duo ran through a 45-minute practice session as part of Team Chuck, joining Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Indiana's Paul George and Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, among others, in preparation for the Rising Stars Challenge.
The annual NBA rookie-sophomore game tips off at 7 p.m. MT on TNT.
Hayward and Favors will be coached by Hall of Fame forward Charles Barkley.
Team Chuck will face Team Shaq, coached by ex-Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal and featuring New York's Jeremy Lin, Minnesota's Ricky Rubio and the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin.
"It's exciting. It's great to be here in Orlando," Hayward said. "A lot of talented players here, and it's going to be a lot of fun."
A relaxed and upbeat Hayward ran a pre-practice three-man weave led by Washington's John Wall. Favors dunked a pass by Philadelphia's Evan Turner. And two of the Jazz's brightest young stars were guided by Oklahoma City assistant coach Maurice Cheeks and NBA TV analyst Mike Fratello.
Hayward and Favors acknowledged it was nice to step away from the frustration of Jazzland for a few days. Utah (15-17) has lost five of its last six games and is just 6-13 in its last 19.
"We need this All-Star break," Favors said. "Everyone can go home, get some rest, clear their head and be ready to come back and play whenever we start back playing."
Hayward and Favors aren't the only Jazz players in Florida. Second-year forward Jeremy Evans will compete Saturday in the annual dunk contest.
"That's the best part," Hayward said. "The fact that we've got three players from the Jazz here representing the team, it makes me kind of proud."
While all three Utah players closely guarded The Human Pogo Stick's much-discussed dunk plans, Favors said there's a chance Hayward could help Evans fly.
"I think Gordon might, but I don't know. I can't say anything," Favors said.