INDIANAPOLIS — Devin Harris and Derrick Favors both expressed their excitement about joining the Utah Jazz earlier this week.
The feeling, especially after their debuts Friday night, is certainly mutual.
Harris, already the most popular No. 5 in some time with Utah, displayed an ability to dribble and drive at a lightning-quick speed, and Favors, the latest No. 15 from Georgia Tech, demonstrated his dunking skills, some defensive moxie and a nice touch from mid-range.
The New Jersey transplants also showed they can play key roles in helping the Jazz win — 95-84 at Indiana — even while the gray matter in their skulls might've been smoking and spinning from the crazy and sudden change of scenery and systems.
"It's gotta be difficult coming into a team 50-something games into the season with one practice and be expected to play and kind of know the offense and blend in," Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward said. "But I thought they did a terrific job on that.
"I think the most important thing," he added, "is they competed, which is what you want from players coming in. They did a great job."
High praise coming from the most popular man in Indiana.
But Hayward was hardly the only one in the Jazz locker room giving the pair props.
And compliments were certainly in order on this night.
Harris, a seven-year veteran playmaker, came in off the bench behind temporary starting point guard Earl Watson to score 14 points, grab seven rebounds and dish out five assists in nearly 29 minutes.
"He's a veteran. He knows what he takes. He's a good cat," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. "He wants to work and he wants to learn, and I think he's happy about being here and he demonstrated tonight."
A key part of the trade that sent Deron Williams to the Nets on Wednesday, Harris also showed some extra zip in his step.
"He sped the game up," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "(Harris) moves from one end of the court to the other end of the court in .3 seconds. That's what he brings to our team, that quickness to get up and down the court. He found guys in the stretch of the game. He's a good player."
The 6-10 Favors, meanwhile, added six points, three boards and a blocked shot while giving the Jazz a big defensive presence down low for 15 minutes, including an extended chunk of time during the fourth quarter.
"He looked comfortable out there," Millsap said. "He's catching on quick, and that's a good thing for us and a good thing for him."
Harris ended up playing the entire fourth quarter and for nine more minutes than Watson, who has said he hopes to return to a reserve role because he likes providing a spark off the bench.
Moments into the game, Harris burst toward the hoop for a fast layup. He later did some fancy dribbling and hit a jumper that elicited "ooohs" from the crowd. Down the stretch, he dished off a key assist to Al Jefferson — and he ran a lot of pick-and-roll in between.
"I felt comfortable enough to call the plays, and we just kept it simple," said Harris, who experienced one practice and one shootaround prior to his Jazz debut. "At the end of the day, it's just basketball. We just went out there, (and) we played."
The 19-year-old Favors, who's had an up-and-down rookie season after being picked No. 3 overall, was happy to get his Jazz debut in the rear-view mirror.
"I was nervous," he admitted. "I was anxious and just ready to get the first game out of the way so I can get comfortable with everything."17 comments on this story
He got his Jazz career off to a strong start by throwing down a thunderous dunk off the bat. But he stayed in the game longer than expected because of the defense he played.
"It helped a lot. It built my confidence up," Favors said of the early slam. "I got into the groove of the game and I was just ready."