Al Jefferson couldn't play Friday night for the first time since he joined the Utah Jazz over a year ago, and the usual starting center had a message for his replacement.

Moments before the Jazz's home-opener tipped off, Big Al, unable to go because of an inflamed right ankle, told Derrick Favors, "You just got to hold it down for me."

Consider it held down.

Favors' career-high 20 points, 11 rebounds and strong defensive effort helped spark the Jazz, who regrouped from two early blowouts and Jefferson's absence to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 102-99 at EnergySolutions Arena.

"He looked me dead in my eyes and said, 'I'm going to hold it down for you,'" Jefferson said. "And that's exactly what he did. He made me proud. I was happy about it."

"It was nice. I had fun," Favors said, smiling. "We Southern boys have got to hold it down for each other."

Guys from Indiana, to Wisconsin, to Louisiana and elsewhere also held it down — and picked it up considerably after rough outings in Los Angeles and Denver — while contributing to Utah's first win of 2011-12.

"We did a lot better," starting small forward Gordon Hayward said. "We weren't perfect and we made a lot of mistakes, and we still have a lot of work to do. (But) we definitely played with a lot more energy. We played like teammates, and it was a good start for us."

At least after a rough start.

Starting point guard Devin Harris (Wisconsin) responded with a vengeance after being sent to the bench early in the first quarter.