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Derrick Favors back to practice and 'feeling a lot better'

SALT LAKE CITY — Derrick Favors jokingly said Monday afternoon he didn't exactly miss talking to reporters after conducting his first interview in a month.

That, by the way, is a very good sign for Utah Jazz fans.

While it's good news that Favors still has a sense of humor — who wouldn't want to talk to local media, after all? — it's significant that the power forward was made available to be interviewed.

Why?

It meant that Favors practiced.

Favors hasn't been able to do that for almost a month as he dealt with a painful bone contusion in his left knee.

"I’m still working through a little bit of discomfort, but overall it’s feeling good," Favors said. "It’s feeling a lot better."

Though he didn't go through the full practice, Favors was able to participate through most of the short, hour-long workout. Jazz guard Rodney Hood, who's missed time with a hamstring injury, also participated in practice.

Favors said he'll try to go through Tuesday's practice — with an even more heavily wrapped knee than Monday — and see how he feels after the shootaround Wednesday. He'll then discuss with Jazz coach Quin Snyder and the training staff about his possible return for that night's game against Oklahoma City.

Favors badly wants to play. It's been rough for him to miss 14 games with an injury this season (including the season opener after being out of most of the preseason). However, he wants to make sure his knee has healed to the point where it's not going to be detrimental to his long-term health and that he'll be able to be a positive asset.

"It’s definitely tough not being able to play. I want to be out there with my teammates, be playing in the game, be practicing with them," Favors said. "It's definitely tough, but at the same time, I’ve got to be smart with it. I don’t want to make it worse. I just want to do the rehab, do the treatment and just let it heal. I just had to be smart with it."

Favors returned to play after missing time in the preseason and the regular-season opener because of this injury, but his knee continued to bother him and affected his play. Eventually, it became too painful for him to go on.

"I tried to be tough and fight through it, but I’ve got to be smart with it," Favors said. "It got too bad, too much for me where I couldn't take it anymore so I just had to tell the coach and the training staff that it’s hurting. I just had to take care of it.

"Sometimes you’ve got to man up and just say, 'Look, I’m not feeling right, something’s wrong,' and just take care of it."

The decision was made by the medical staff, front office and coaches to sit Favors for a while — the Jazz stopped sharing timetables on their players' injuries — to allow his knee to heal as he went through rest and rehab. He's spent a lot of time building strength in his leg, especially his quad muscle, to support the knee's improvement.

Favors is now back to the point where he can jump, cut, run and all of the other things basketball players need to do. It took a lot of work to get back to this point. Now he's working on chemistry with teammates, his rhythm, getting into game shape and lateral movement. He said it's taking a lot of patience.

"That's what I’ve been doing, just been working hard with the training staff to get better," Favors said. "After I got done with all of the rehab and training, I had to reteach myself how to jump properly, how to land properly, how to stop properly and not put a lot of pressure on my knee. Now I can do it pretty good."

Favors is proud of his teammates, who've led the Jazz to a 15-10 record despite a slew of injuries to key players, including not just himself but Hood, George Hill, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.

"They’ve done great. They’re winning games. Guys are playing great. Guys coming off the bench are playing great," Favors said. "Guys in new roles are getting more minutes, getting more shots. They’ve been making a lot of plays. I think they’ve been playing great."

While he looks forward to being back with his teammates on the court, he's spent a lot of time with them off the court during his absence.

"I’m right there with them. I’m right here in practice with them. I’m on the road with them, in the locker room with them. I’m right there with them," Favors said. "They understand I’ve got to go through my rehab and training and all of the stuff I have to do. They’ve been supportive and I support them the same way."

Favors also appreciates how the Jazz organization has handled his "frustrating" injury experience with patience, consideration and a far-sighted approach.

"They're thinking about the long term of your career," Favors said, "and just trying to make sure that you're healthy enough to be able to play come playoff time (and) come January, February you’re 100 percent instead of trying to push you to play a couple of games in November and December."