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The Utah Jazz are a good team when they get the version of Derrick Favors who averages nine points and six rebounds per game.
The Jazz are a much better team when they get the version of Favors who averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game last season.
There is a difference, as Utah's 112-97 win over the Brooklyn Nets attests. Favors has battled injury for long stretches this season, which has sapped his athleticism in spots. But he looked like the old Favors on Friday, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 33 minutes.
"As a team, I want to see us be consistent and put games together where we're taking care of business," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "That's hard for us to do unless Derrick is being Derrick. He's an important part of what we do."
Many big men become more engaged when the guards find a way to get them the ball early on a point Favors freely admits to. Against Brooklyn, he had touches offensively early and often, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first quarter.
A lot of his points were off dunks and layups. It set the tone for the rest of his game. He went 8 of 9 from the field and 2 of 3 from the free-throw line. He defended the paint, and along with Rudy Gobert made it difficult for the Nets to find points near the basket.
Favors made jumpers, recorded three assists and even made his third 3-pointer of the season he is 3 of 9 this season beyond the arc.
"I was just trying to come out tonight and be aggressive," Favors said. "I wanted to come out and find a rhythm early, and I was able to do that."
More importantly, teammates are taking notice of Favors' play. George Hill said he saw a smile on Favors' face Friday night, and it was nice to see him "having fun" on the floor.
The big man out of Georgia Tech now has two consecutive double-doubles, the second time this season he's recorded such.
Is he all the way back health-wise? It's too early to say. But it's hard to ignore the fact that Favors has played better in the past week than he has for much of the season.