On the official score sheet, it was the midway point through the fourth quarter on Monday night.
In the minds of those laying the foundational bricks for the Jazz, it was a hopeful glimpse into the future.
Denver’s Danilo Gallinari had missed a 3-point shot from the left wing and Enes Kanter was there to gobble up the rebound. He looked up and fired a pass to Jamaal Tinsley, who was in a full sprint up the sideline. Tinsley swung it across the court to a sprinting Gordon Hayward and, with barely time for the ball to settle into his hands, Hayward hit the runaway freight train that was Derrick Favors barreling back on the left with a perfect feed for a slam dunk.
Six seconds, three passes, two points and not once did the ball hit the floor.
Some day down the line this should be a steady part of the Utah offensive diet — a huge helping of the 6-foot-10 Favors filling the lane on the fast break and filling up the box score.
In his third season, Favors is tugging at the reins to get loose, and eventually there will come a time when coach Ty Corbin won’t be able to keep him out of the starting lineup.
There were plenty who thought that time for the third-year power forward was the beginning of this season, and they were ready to move veteran Paul Millsap or center Al Jefferson to make room.
With his team playing unevenly a little more than a week ago, Corbin made his own move to put Favors into the starting lineup in place of Marvin Williams in an attempt to go big across the front line with Millsap and Jefferson.
However, that experiment lasted only two games — wins over Washington and Houston — as Favors could not find a comfort zone with his fellow bigs, shooting just 3-for-10 and 2-for-7, respectively. Favors’ overall scoring and rebounding numbers did not go up as his minutes stayed roughly the same, and the move actually left the Jazz more vulnerable defensively with Millsap at a decided disadvantage trying to keep up with opposing small forwards.
Perhaps the biggest downside to using all of the big men together as starters was making the Jazz more deliberate and ponderous on offense at a time when the league is more about quickness and pace.
Favors scored 16 and grabbed 14 rebounds in his first game back as a reserve in Friday’s win over the Kings, then was handcuffed by foul trouble and didn’t manage a field goal in the rematch the next night in Sacramento.
With the Nuggets running the floor and making shots, they built a 16-point lead on Utah Monday night. Then, Favors came on strong — scoring 12 of his 19 points and playing powerfully around the basket to spark a second-half comeback in a 105-103 win.
The win kept the Jazz 6-0 at home, the first time they’ve started that quick since the 2008-09 season, and yet they remain rather inept on the road and appear in their current state no threat to be much different than the just-better-than-.500 team that sneaked into the No. 8 spot in the playoffs last season.
Without a sudden change in character, it will keep the heat on the Jazz to think about moving Millsap or Jefferson ahead of the February trade deadline.
Though it’s consistency out of him that would force the issue, it’s a thought that gets more tempting every time the Jazz run a break that end with Favors barreling toward the hoop with another glimpse of the future.