SALT LAKE CITY — All season, the Utah Jazz have searched for consistent production on the interior block. Both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have displayed glimpses of dominance, but have struggled to work cohesively together in the starting lineup.
In Wednesday’s 95-86 loss against Indiana, however, the Jazz witnessed the potential they’ve expected from their two young post players.
For only the third time this season, and the first time against a quality opponent, Favors and Kanter both reached the double-figure plateau in points and rebounds. Favors finished with a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, his eighth double-double, while Kanter added 20 points and 10 boards, his fourth double-double.
“There were some things there that you can grow from,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “You look at numbers and they’re a great game, but there’s still some improvement. We’ll break it down and we were glad to see them give us the effort (we) were looking for.”
Favors' versatility continues to grow. He’s groomed his stop-and-pop mid-range jumper, which he hit routinely against Pacers center Roy Hibbert Wednesday. The added threat forced Hibbert from the paint to contest the shot, and eventually opened up lanes for dribble penetration.
“Obviously we can pull either one of them away from the basket with D-Fav hitting that jump shot more consistently now,” said Jazz rookie point guard Trey Burke, who finished with a career-high nine assists. “It’s really a matter of continuing to find out the best way we play with them out there on the court. I wouldn’t want to say experiment, but we really are. We’re trying to see the areas we’re best at.”
Kanter returned to the starting lineup in Marvin Williams' absence after coming off the bench for several games. He played a team-high 39 minutes.
“I’m just a player and I’m just doing my job,” Kanter said. “It don’t matter if it comes from the bench or the starting five, in the end you play for the Jazz. That’s fine for me.”
There were several bright moments, including Favors’ successful and-one with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter in response to a jumper by Indiana’s David West, but there were also moments for growth. Kanter missed several squared-away hook shots, and Favors mistakenly finished softly on a blocked layup after failing to recognizing Hibbert’s presence.
“Nobody likes to lose, but at the same time that was one of the best teams in the NBA,” Favors said. “We learned a lot tonight mentally and physically.”
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