SALT LAKE CITY — On the night he dropped 46 points — including 19 in the fourth quarter — to lead the Utah Jazz to a comeback victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Donovan Mitchell pointed to the man across the locker room as the biggest reason Utah won.
“(Derrick Favors) was the MVP tonight, say what you want about me,” Mitchell said.
He might not have just been being modest either.
In the second quarter, Favors rolled to the hoop, caught a bounce pass from Joe Ingles and delivered a one-handed hammer over Ersan Ilyasova. Following the dunk, Favors flexed and screamed toward the crowd in a showcase of emotion rarely seen from the Jazz veteran.
He was so caught up in the moment that when he stepped to the line to try and convert the 3-point play he slammed the ball off the glass.
“I was still amped up after that dunk,” Favors said.
That was the type of energy the team needed on Saturday against the NBA's best team. And no one brought it more than Favors.
“Once he dunked on (Ilyasova), then he bricked the free throw really bad, you could tell the energy," Mitchell said. "I’m making jokes, but he was in a different place emotionally.”
And he helped bring the Jazz to a different level.
Favors was the key cog inside for the Jazz on Saturday. With Rudy Gobert struggling to contain Giannis Antetokounmpo and to score inside on him, the Jazz turned to Favors for an expanded role.
And he delivered.
“I got my (butt) kicked,” Gobert said. “I missed seven free throws. I just wasn’t good tonight. Props to coach for putting me on the bench tonight.”
Favors' highlight-reel dunk was just one of many big plays he had on the night. The play before, for instance, was a block on Antetokounmpo. It was all part of a second-quarter stretch that was as good as any Favors has played this season. But he was just as good in the fourth quarter as the Jazz made their late push to victory.
“Derrick had a beyond outstanding effort tonight,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Favors finished with 23 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.
“Favors was just an animal. He went into Hulk mode,” Kyle Korver said. “He was a beast.”
And as Favors was helping the Jazz close out a 17-point comeback victory, Gobert was standing up cheering. There was no sign of jealousy; no sign of anger that he wasn't finishing the game. There was only excitement for his teammate.
“I’m just happy for him,” Gobert said. “It’s not always easy playing behind me. Sometimes you want to finish the game and, usually, he doesn’t. … It’s just unbelievable. It shows just how much of a professional he is.”
And that support wasn't lost on Favors.
"It means a lot," he said. "It’s a guy (Gobert) that can go out there and dominate the game, but tonight just wasn’t his night and I just had to make up for it. He does the same thing for me sometimes on nights I don’t have it."
But he definitely had it on Saturday.
Favors made explosive plays — high-flying blocks, springing up for rebounds and, of course, dunking over Ilyasova. Those types of plays haven’t been as common for the Jazz big man over the last couple seasons as he has fought through injury. But Favors feels like he is getting his athleticism back to where it once was.
“Just working hard over the offseason getting my body back in shape,” Favors said. “It feels good to be able to go about to do that. The last couple of years have been kind of tough.”
Saturday night sure wasn’t.