In Game 1 of the Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers Playoff series we saw Rudy Gobert get hurt seconds into the game. Gordon Hayward intentionally fouled DeAndre Jordan 18 seconds into it in order for Gobert to get the attention he needed off the court. But the Jazz needed help on it as well. And Derrick Favors was the guy who just - flat out - brought it.
Now, it wasn’t a complete throwback performance from Favors, who has been battling injuries the last two seasons. But you can’t question Favors’ heart. Not after the performance he had off the bench against star center DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is bigger, stronger, more athletic, and way healthier. He’s also been playing all year long and is in better condition to play big minutes.
So there was a hill to climb for Derrick. But he did, and ended up playing 32 minutes in Game 1. The last time Favors played 32 minutes in a game was March 6th, in a five point win against the New Orleans Pelicans (and Anthony Davis + DeMarcus Cousins). And this was just the 8th time Favors played 30+ minutes in his 51 regular season + playoffs games this season.
If you compare that to last season it’s much less. In 2015-2016 Favors played 43 games of 30+ minutes. And yes, 43 is a bigger number than 8. In 2014-2015 Favors played in 52 games of 30+ minutes. That 52 games of big minutes two seasons ago is MORE games of ANY minutes that Favors has played this season. (52 is larger than 51.)
So, I guess, #TakeNote of that.
Okay, so Favors is out of big game condition. But he didn’t whine or complain. He got in there knowing that his team was depending on him. And he delivered.
Well, he kind of had to get into a groove. Things did not go well at the beginning. But he finished strong, and the team got the win. And in the end that’s all that matters.
Stints: 1 — Time: 4:35 (275 seconds)
This did not work out great. He started off this stint with a defensive three-in-the-key that turned into a tech free throw for Chris Paul, which he hit for the first points of the game. About a minute later he was called for an offensive foul / turn over. A minute later he missed an 18 footer. Two minutes later he was called for his second foul, this one a loose ball foul that DeAndre Jordan drew. And that was all she wrote, as Quin Snyder had to go to Jeff Withey for the remaining 7:07 of the first quarter. Three centers in 5 minutes. How did this team win this game?
So the first stint was brutal. But I think we can defend Favors a little here, it was not the idea situation to start this game off from.
Final Tally: 0 PTS | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK
Stints: 1 — Time: 9:59 (599 seconds)
Things were much better after he got his footing in the second quarter. And the team responded to his play. When he subbed in it was a 26-30 deficit. When the quarter ended, and he played all the way to halftime, it was 52 all. What happened? Well, for one, Derrick started to get going.
He was getting boards, and cutting to the right spot to receive dump off passes from George Hill and Joe Ingles off of guard penetration. He finished with dunks each time. His defense was notable as well, but in a game where Joe Ingles, Boris Diaw, and Joe Johnson are getting a lot of the headlines, it was way too easy to overlook what Favors did in this game.
(O-Board and Hockey Assist!)
Final Tally: 4 PTS | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK
Stints: 1 — Time: 5:42 (342 seconds)
The third quarter didn’t have a lot of Derrick in it, but he played the first 6 minutes of it. (So if you are counting, in game-time he played the last 16 mins straight, rounding up.) It was another quarter where he shot FGM 2 for FGA 2.
The Jazz were able to pull away a little in this quarter, finishing it 74-70. But that was because it was deep bench against bench.
Favors being able to score efficiently all night long, and not make the same mistakes he made in the first quarter, were huge positives. One three in the key, one turn over, and two fouls in his first stint - that was only 4:35 minutes of action. Zero three in the key violations, one turn over, and zero fouls in the next 14:41 minutes (941 seconds) of action.
But he would save his best for last.
Final Tally: 4 PTS | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK
Stints: 1 — Time: 12:00 (720 seconds)
Holy macaroni, he played the entire fourth quarter? No wounder he was not jumping up for rebounds or do anything crazy athletic. He wasn’t hurt. He was just out of gas. But he really gave it his all in this quarter. Pick and rolls, finishing at the rim, offensive rebounds that turn into dunks in traffic.
He was also moving the ball well, and drew three fouls.
(Shut up. This counts as an assist in my books!)
He split the FTs, and shot 3 for 4 from the field. And Gobert was protecting the rim, something this team really missed without Rudy in the middle.
As the game went on he got better and better. Not because of anything else except for his heart. He was getting pounded every time up and down the court and playing his first game of extended minutes since the beginning of March. And he had a fantastic performance.
Final Tally: 7 PTS | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK
Stints: 4 — Time: 32:16 (1936 seconds)
Favors had a forgettable first quarter, but was there for this team when they needed him most - taking care of the paint when Rudy isn’t there. He was mismatched against DeAndre for most of the night and still managed to be hyper efficient (7/10 FG), drew four fouls, did his job within the offense with screens, assists, and hockey assists -- and still blocked Blake Griffin once.
It’s not “back” yet, but he’s on his road to getting back to his bad old self. In February and March some of his close shots were rimming out. In the Playoffs he is slamming them home. This is progress. This is our Derrick Favors.
Final Tally: 15 PTS | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK
Of course, how long can he play out of position against a bigger opponent and play mistake-free basketball? We’ll see. But the next big test is tonight against the Clip-trips.
I believe in Favors. I believe he can be an integral part of this franchise going forward. Games like what he did in the series opener show his capability and heart. And for a guy who has been in the league for so many seasons people still forget that he’s only 25. (Point of comparison, he’s two years younger than Jeff Withey, and five years younger than George Hill.)