Utah Jazz: Blake Ahearn happy to be part of team’s playoff push
Jazz notes • Utah extends D-Leaguer’s contract for playoffs.
Published: April 21, 2012 09:18PM
Updated: April 21, 2012 12:04AM
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Houston Rockets' Blake Ahearn (18) drives past Denver Nuggets' Romel Beck during an NBA summer league basketball game in Las Vegas on Wednesday, July 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Louie Traub)

The Jazz signed Blake Ahearn for the rest of the season Friday, when his original 10-day contract with the team expired.

The 6-foot-2 guard will be with Utah for the rest of the season.

The Jazz enter Saturday night’s game against Orlando tied with Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff berth in the NBA’s Western Conference.

“Getting to finish the year here is great,” Ahearn said. “But the fact you’re with a team in a playoff hunt makes it even better. These next three games are going to be fun and exciting. Hopefully, we can make a good push.”

Said coach Tyrone Corbin: “We feel good about what he’s done for us.”

Ahearn signed with the Jazz on April 10 after averaging 23.8 points per game with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League.

Ahearn has appeared in three games for the Jazz. In 15 minutes, he has scored three points, grabbed two rebounds and handed out one assist.

“You have to feel things out,” Ahearn said. “I’m smart enough to understand what coach wants, what the other players are doing and incorporating my game into all that. ... I led the D-League in scoring, but I’m not here to lead this team in scoring.”

Off the court, Ahearn reports his infant daughter, who was born prematurely and has remained hospitalized since mid-March, continues to improve.

“She’s doing well,” Ahearn said. Thursday night, “she took three out of her four feedings — all from the bottle. Nothing from the feeding tube.

“I think they are going to take the feeding tube out this week,” he added, “so, hopefully, we’re headed down the homestretch and can bring her home soon.”

Ahearn receives updates and photos from his wife “all the time. My phone has pictures galore of our little girl. So we’re doing the best we can.”

Patrolling the arc

The Jazz can return to the playoffs for the fifth time in six years by sweeping their final three games against Orlando, Phoenix on Tuesday and Portland on Thursday.

The Magic will play without All-Star center Dwight Howard, who is out after having back surgery to repair a herniated disc.

“Dwight is a big inside presence for them, and he won’t be there,” Corbin said.

“But the perimeter guys are where they have really flourished.”

Orlando averages a league-leading 26.8 3-point shot attempts per game.

The Magic’s top 3-point shooters are Chris Duhon (.444), J.J. Redick (.414) and Ryan Anderson (.397).

“These guys are looking for [that] shot,” Corbin said. “So we have have our rotations downs and get out on them.”

Close call

DeMarre Carroll and Derrick Favors avoided serious injury during the Jazz’s 112-91 win at Portland on Wednesday night.

Carroll’s forehead slammed into Favors’ face as the two pursued a rebound.

Before Friday morning’s practice, Carroll said, “I’m good. As you’ll see when you see Derrick Favors, my head is way harder than his.”

When he emerged from the locker room, Favors’ eye was swollen.

“Just a basketball play,” he shrugged.

For Carroll, the incident was doubly dangerous, considering he suffered a mild concussion only four nights earlier against Memphis.

“I was seeing stars,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, I got another concussion.’ But it worked out.”

Carroll and Favors will both play against Orlando.

Meanwhile, Josh Howard (knee) and Raja Bell (knee) participated in practice on a limited basis. The timeline for their return, however, remains uncertain.

luhm@sltrib.com