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Los Angeles • Derrick Favors had a debt to pay.
That's how the Utah Jazz forward felt as he took the court Sunday afternoon for Game 7. And he knew his frustrating season would end in disappointment if he didn't settle up.
"I was struggling a lot this season with injuries and my teammates had to hold it down for me while I was out," Favors said later. "I felt like I owed them, especially in this game."
Consider the bill paid in full.
The Jazz are moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs after a 104-91 road victory, and they wouldn't be celebrating if not for Favors' 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
"Big fella here stood up and had a massive game," Joe Ingles said, standing next to Favors in the visiting locker room. "We don't win tonight without him."
Coming into Sunday, the question was how much Rudy Gobert's sprained ankle might limit him. But the Jazz's center instead found himself anchored to the bench with foul trouble. Gobert eventually fouled out with one point and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
With Gobert on the pine, the Jazz turned to Favors.
"I think sometimes it's good to be needed," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, "and I think there was part of him that understood that he was going to have to play at a high level for us to have a chance to win."
Favors came through with his best performance of the series, playing a style that contrasted with Gobert's and caused the Clippers all sorts of problems Sunday.
"He's different than Rudy," Snyder said. "He's a different style of player, and I think some of who he was tonight was a good fit for what we needed."
Where Gobert would roll to the rim and look for lobs, Favors' short-rolls led to open free-throw line jumpers. Where Gobert might sag back in pick-and-roll defense to protect the rim, Favors was asked to push up on the ball handler, helping hold L.A.'s Chris Paul to his lowest scoring total of the series.
Favors finished the game with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He helped the Jazz to a 46-38 rebounding advantage and also dished out three assists. The Jazz were 15 points better than the Clippers during Favors' 30 minutes on the court Sunday.
Watching from the bench, Gobert appreciated the performance.
"It was great to see him healthy, and we know what he can do for this team," the Jazz center said. "Tonight he came in and was big."
It was especially satisfying for Favors' teammates to see him perform at that level, on that stage, given how frustrating the season had been for him. The forward missed 32 games over the course of the season due to injuries and had to fight to get back in time for the playoffs.
"He's worked his ass off," Ingles said.
And now, he's worked off a debt, too.
"It feels real good," Favors said, sitting on the podium after a Game 7 win. "… I just wanted to pay them back for holding [it] down all season."