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SALT LAKE CITY — Notes after Monday morning's Jazz practice, which featured media availability with Quin Snyder, Joe Ingles, and Derrick Favors.
The big news from practice today was the progress of Derrick Favors. Favors nearly fully participated in practice today for the first time since playing limited minutes on Nov. 14 against Memphis. Since then, he's been out with a bone contusion in his left knee, with no timetable for return.
Favors' return will be a big deal for the Jazz, who have started Trey Lyles and (mostly) Boris Diaw in his absence. Both of those players are capable and smart, but provide neither the defensive presence nor the offensive rim pressure that Derrick Favors does.
Favors said that he's currently "still working through a little bit of discomfort" in his knee, "but overall, it feels a lot better." He'll ramp it up a little bit more in practice tomorrow, then go through shootaround Wednesday. At that point, Favors, the coaching staff, and the training staff will discuss whether or not he'll play against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday. My sense is that it's likely, but we'll see.
What's Favors been up to during his month off the court? A lot of strength work on his leg muscles, without putting undue pressure on his bruised knee. "I had to reteach myself how to jump properly, how to land properly, how to stop properly without putting a lot of pressure on my knee."
And he appreciates the Jazz's cautious approach to his injury.
"They're thinking about the long term in your career, not just a couple of games. They're trying to make sure that you're healthy enough to come play during playoff time, or January and February, instead of trying to trying to play a couple of games in November and December."
Rodney Hood also mostly participated in practice today, a good sign as he recovers from his hamstring injury. That's always been more day-to-day than anything, and I'd say it's likely he plays Wednesday as well.
George Hill did not participate in practice, but is out of the walking boot he's worn pretty consistently since spraining his big toe. A big toe sprain is a big deal in basketball. For example, Devin Harris sprained his big toe and missed 16 games (BTW, props to the Mavericks for having coach Rick Carlisle announce that Harris would be re-evaluated in three weeks when the injury originally occurred). After Harris left his walking boot, he sat for an additional two weeks before playing. In other words, don't count on seeing Hill in action this week.
Alec Burks didn't participate in practice, but continues to work out with Jazz trainers after practices and before games. Today, Burks and company worked on his jump stop balance, making sure that he's balanced overall before he goes up for a shot. Like everyone, I have absolutely no sense on what that means for his return.
Having three days off in the middle of an NBA season is rare, but especially so with a home game on either side of that big break. How are the Jazz taking advantage?
"Rest. Rest. Some mental precision. Shooting. But mainly health. Just trying to get guys healthy, and if they are healthy, trying to get them fresh," Snyder said.
The Jazz's practice today was under an hour long, and didn't involve a lot of high-energy competition; maybe the most effort was expended on the team's defensive work. What do the Jazz do in these more conceptual practices?
"Execution on the court. Precision, situations, anything that makes guys think about time and score and where they're supposed to be on the court," Snyder said.
Joe Ingles' great shot
Joe Ingles leads the league right now in 3-point shooting, currently making them at a 48.4 percent rate. That'd be the highest for a Jazzman since Kyle Korver's record setting 53.6 percent in the 2009-10 season.
Prior to these last 25 games, Ingles was a solid shooter, averaging 37 percent from downtown, but this season, he's taken it to a new level. "He's shooting the ball quicker, and he's not thinking about it. He's more reactive. So he's not dipping the ball as much, he's keeping it up and it's quicker, and he's being more decisive," Snyder said.
"The times where he catches the ball and stops and jabs are almost extinct, and hopefully will be."
At the end of practice today, Shelvin Mack, Gordon Hayward and Joe Ingles had a 3-point shooting contest between the three of them. Mack wasn't close to the other two, but Hayward and Ingles traded makes and misses for several minutes. Whenever Ingles shot, Hayward would try to walk in front of Ingles, or grab his arm, or say something. Meanwhile, Ingles did the same and more while Hayward shot, forcing Hayward to dance out of the way of Ingles as he approached the arc.
Hayward ended up winning this battle, to Ingles' great disappointment. So while Ingles is the best shooter in the league, on this day, he wasn't even the best shooter on his team.