Atlanta trip comes at a good time for frustrated Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors

Atlanta trip comes at a good time for frustrated Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors

ATLANTA — The NBA schedule-maker did Derrick Favors a solid.

The Utah Jazz power forward, who’s had a disappointing and injury-riddled season, couldn’t have picked a better time to go home.

“Yeah, it’s always good to go back down (to Atlanta) to be with your family and friends, stuff that you’re familiar with,” Favors said. “It comes at a good time for me.”

At this point, anything that helps boost Favors’ confidence is a positive — and a trip home could be the remedy. The 25-year-old hasn’t had to deal with this type of personal adversity — a nagging knee injury and sparse playing time — since the New Jersey Nets made it pretty clear from the get-go that they intended to trade him as a rookie six years ago.

How’s he hanging in?

“I’m keeping in the back of my mind, ‘Get in the offseason 100 percent,’” he said.

Favors said that quietly — and repeated that phrase four times in less than two minutes — in the aftermath of Saturday’s game. Though the Jazz won, the power forward only played for 10 minutes, scoring just two points with four rebounds and an assist.

Favors hadn’t played in the previous two games as Jazz management tried to give him extra rest to help his knee’s recovery.

The 6-foot-10 athlete is only averaging 22.9 minutes this season, which is the fewest since he was backing up Paul Millsap (21.3 minutes) in the 2011-12 season.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Favors said of his season, which was hampered from the get-go after a bone contusion in his knee kept him out of most of the preseason. “I’m a competitive player, but it will get better. It will get better.”

Gordon Hayward, who’s been with Favors since 2011 when the big man was traded to Utah in the Deron Williams deal, feels for his teammate.

“I don’t think anyone understands what he’s going through, his body, and I know he’s banged up trying to fight through it, trying to get 100 percent healthy,” Hayward said. “It’s really tough when you’re sitting out games and not being able to practice, not being able to get out here with the guys. Both physically and mentally, it’s tough.”

While Favors said his focus is on maintaining his health until the offseason, Hayward is hopeful that the Jazz will get him back to his old self much sooner.

“We’re trying to get him back to 100 percent,” Hayward said, “because when he’s 100 percent he’s obviously really effective for us. We’ve got to get him back to 100 percent.”

Jazz coach Quin Snyder says the team is trying to help Favors in the long run by limiting his playing time.

“The biggest thing for us is we’re thinking big picture and want to get out in front of, with all our players, any situation that we feel could be problematic for them and our group as far as their health,” Snyder said. “In Derrick’s case, sometimes that’s meant that he’s missed some time. I’m sure both Derrick and all of us wish that we could have him out there all the time.”

Snyder said he hopes players in Favors’ situation will try to find ways to help the team even if they’re not able to do everything they normally can.

“When you haven’t played in a little while, what is it you can do right now?” Snyder said. “Maybe you’re not shooting the ball with the same rhythm because you haven’t had game shots and you’re fatigued. Whatever the case is, it gets back to defense.”

The encouraging news is that Favors said continual treatment and work has helped him “feel good.” He’s still trying to get into a rhythm, though, which can be difficult when he’s not playing consistently.

“I’ve been in and out of games this year, so I’m definitely out of rhythm,” Favors said. “It will come back. I’ve just got to work, put in the work, make sure I stay on top of my health. It will come back.”

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Fortunately for the Jazz, Joe Johnson has filled in nicely as a small four the past couple of games. But the team will be more versatile and dangerous down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs if it can get its most powerful player back into the swing of things.

Judging by the sound of Favors, he could use that boost, too.

“Right now, (my mindset is) just, ‘Get into the offseason healthy, just get to the offseason healthy,’” Favors said. “Do what I’ve got to do right now, just keep on top of my health, when I’m out there just play hard and get to the offseason healthy.”

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Published at Mon, 06 Feb 2017 03:45:00 +0000