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Favors growing up as Jazz battle for playoff spot

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm •  Published: April 8, 2013

The Jazz will need all of that down the stretch, starting at home Tuesday against the Thunder, which is coming off a tough loss to the streaking New York Knicks. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the biggest stars, but Favors likely will have to deal with Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.

Favors, who leads the Jazz with 121 blocks, registered six of them in the last two meetings with the Thunder.

The two teams have split their two most recent games, with the Jazz handing Oklahoma City an embarrassing 109-94 loss in Salt Lake City on Feb. 12 and the Thunder getting payback on their home court a month later with a 110-87 thrashing on March 13. The Thunder won the first meeting this season, 106-94, in Oklahoma City on Nov. 30.

"They're still in a fight to have the best record in the west," Corbin said of an Oklahoma City (56-21) team that sits a game behind San Antonio (57-20). "We have something to play for (in every game) ... We're not a lock yet."

Corbin believes the one surety is that Favors, only in his third year, will get better — especially as he develops more of an offensive game. He's reached a point where the Jazz are designing plays for him.

"At times you're able to go and get him the ball in the post on offense and he can make plays on the weak side after a guy take a shot, or gets a rebound. All those things expand his role and expand his time of the floor because he's making plays on both ends," Corbin said.

Corbin hopes one stat —that Favors leads the team in personal fouls — also will change.

"That's part of the recognition and growing up in this league," Corbin said. "Right now some of the plays that he makes don't look like a play that can be made and referees tend to blow the whistle a little sooner."

Utah's season comes down to four games. Favors is enjoying each one — again a stark contrast to his first year with the Jazz.

"I wasn't scared," Favors said Monday. "I was just mentally exhausted from the whole thing, everything I went through in New Jersey, then getting traded here. I was just ready to get the season over with so I could go home."

Now, he said, Utah is home. "I bought a puppy. It's official," he said, proud of the recent addition he made two weeks ago and announced with a Twitter picture.

The brown pit bull named Gotti initially kept Favors up at night with his whining. But even that has stopped, and Favors has him housebroken.

"I guess he's getting comfortable right now, too," Favors said with a smile.