Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The defending champions are in town, and the Utah Jazz will square off against the Dallas Mavericks in a nationally televised game.
Pretty exciting, right?
"Just another game," Jazz forward Derrick Favors said. "I treat it as that — just another game."
Fortunately for the Jazz, it's just another game the team will have their up-and-coming 20-year-old available for action for the TNT tilt (8:30 p.m. MT).
"I went through practice and my ankle felt good, so I just told the trainer, 'I'm ready,'" Favors, who missed Tuesday's game, said after today's shootaround. "It feels pretty good right now."
The Jazz will be without another key reserve, and maybe two backups.
Small forward Josh Howard, a former Maverick, will miss his third straight game due to a strained left quadriceps muscle.
Backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley will be a game-time decision because of dermatitis, which kept him from participating in Wednesday's practice and today's prep session.
Howard described his quad as "still day-to-day but getting a lot better."
The 31-year-old is not too nostalgic about not being able play against the team he helped get to the championship and became an All-Star with in 2007. He just wants to play again, something he hasn't been able to do since getting kneed in his leg Saturday against the Nets.
"I'd love to play tonight," said Howard, who leads the Jazz's bench scorers with a 10.7 average. "But my teammates got my back and they can go out there and play hard."
Dallas has had an odd season, losing its first three then winning seven out of eight before falling twice in last-second shots in Los Angeles against the Lakers (Monday) and Clippers (last night).
Surprisingly, Utah (9-4) comes into this one with a better record than Dallas (8-7).
"They're the defending champs," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said. "They've still got Dirk (Nowitzki)."
"They are playing better," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They're getting used to their new personnel."
That new crew includes: Vince Carter, Lamar Odom and Delonte West. Gone: Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler.
"It could be a Sunday night game at the park," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "You've got to come ready to play against them."
Favors might downplay the significance of playing on more TV sets than usual, but 21-year-old Gordon Hayward is excited to be on TNT tonight.
"I think it's what you live for as a player to be in the national spotlight," Hayward said. "For us as a team, it'll be good. Hopefully, we can come out and make a statement."
Obviously, the Jazz hope to make a different statement than they did in their last nationally televised game.
They lost that one 96-71 to the Lakers on opening night.
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