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Derrick Favors said before the Jazz's 99-96 win over San Antonio on Thursday that in last spring's playoffs he played so well because of his desire to beat the Spurs. Even if it was just once in the best-of-seven series, Favors wanted to win to prove the Jazz belonged.
So sitting out Thursday's game would have likely caused the third-year power forward more pain than any soreness he might have felt in his right foot. The good news for the Jazz, though, was that there was none of that, either.
Favors played for the first time after missing five games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, scoring six points in 12 minutes.
"Didn't hurt at all," Favors said. "I've been doing a lot of treatment ... so it felt good."
Favors was, at the start of the fourth quarter, the focal point of the Jazz offense, getting the ball inside on five of six possessions (he was fouled twice, and the net result was four points).
"Just trying to get the rust off," Favors said of his night, "and trying to get back in basketball mode."
Favors said he was told in pregame that coaches would limit his minutes "because they didn't want to overwork my foot."
Coach Tyrone Corbin said he was pleased with Favors' return, despite the missed free throws, which were rendered moot by Mo Williams' game-winning 3-pointer.
"I thought he played hard, and that's the main thing," Corbin said. "He'll get his rhythm back as he gets more time on the floor."
And for Favors, it wasn't just triumphing over a worrisome injury. The win was a small dose of redemption for last year.
"They put us out of the playoffs last year," he said. "So that win meant something to us."
Defending the defense
While the Jazz were celebrating Williams' 3-pointer that beat the final buzzer and the Spurs, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was grousing about a "huge defensive error" that allowed Williams a clean look.
Popovich criticized 6-foot-6 forward Danny Green for giving Williams too much room.
"What do you think a guy is going to do with two seconds on the clock?" Popovich said. "You make him drive. You don't step back on Mo Williams."
However, an unlikely source came out in support of Green's defense.
"It was good 'D,' " Williams said. "First of all, you can't foul a guy in that situation, just give a good contest. I thought I got him back on his heels just enough where he couldn't block it. That was my biggest concern because he's 6-6 that he'd tip it or make me alter a little bit, and I probably would have missed the shot."
Told of Popovich's critiques of his own player, Williams laughed.
"Obviously, that wasn't the defensive play they wanted to do then," he said. "I'll take it."