Jeremy Evans’ flight will not be delayed this year.
The defending Slam Dunk contest winner was among six players selected to the competition at All-Star Weekend in Houston on Feb. 16. Evans returns after sneaking into the contest a year ago as a last-minute replacement.
The announcement was made on TNT before the Lakers played at Boston.
Evans won the competition last year by leaping over teammate Gordon Hayward and dunking two basketballs and later launching himself over comedian Kevin Hart.
Joining Evans in Houston will be Indiana forward Gerald Green, Toronto rookie Terrence Ross and New York Knick James White. Also representing the Western Conference are Denver forward Kenneth Faried and Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe.
“It is very exciting to have the opportunity to participate, not just for the first time, but to be able to go back for a second time,” Evans said.” “I want to top what I did last year and come out and try to win it again.”
But Evans acknowledged last month how daunting that can be:“You’ve got to top what you did before. … It still could be tough.”
Evans will be the Jazz’s lone representative at All-Star Weekend after Enes Kanter and Alec Burks were not selected to the Rising Stars Challenge, Al Jefferson did not receive an invitation to the All-Star Game and Randy Foye was left out of the six-man 3-point contest field.
Evans made highlight shows in the preseason when he blocked a shot by the Clippers’ Ronny Turiaf, dunked on the other end and got all the way back to deflect a long pass by the Clippers.
Beyond occasional highlights, though, Evans has had a quiet third year after signing a three-year contract with the Jazz last summer. He has appeared in 22 games, averaging 1.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.
The Utah Jazz won for their league-leading 12th time Wednesday after trailing by more than 10 points.
And while the Jazz were rightfully pleased with their fifth win in six games, the slow starts that have plagued them throughout the season and led them to a 25-13 hole in the first quarter against Milwaukee are starting to worry coach Tyrone Corbin.
“It is a concern,” he said. “We’re so short-handed right now [it’s hard to determine] what we can change and not throw off where we are, and figuring out what that is right now is a little difficult.”
The Jazz have trailed by double figures in five of their 13 wins since Mo Williams tore a ligament in his right thumb on Dec. 22. When told the Jazz lead the league in comebacks, point guard Jamaal Tinsley scoffed.
“That’s not a good thing,” he said. “It’s a good thing in the winning stats, but to be a good team you’ve got to do that for 48 minutes and not put yourself in the hole.”
As the Jazz sit in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings, just a few losses from the outside looking in, they would like to remedy the issue quickly. But first they must diagnose its root, which has proved a challenge.
“We seem to wait to get ourselves going rather than right from the beginning of the game,” Corbin said, “and once we get going we’re fine. … We wait and see where it comes from rather than making it happen. And we’ve got to get better.”
Paul Millsap, though, was relatively unmoved by the concern, pointing out that the Jazz have been winning games lately.
“Should have we got in that 12-point hole?” Millsap said. “Probably not, but the outcome of the game is we won. You can’t really look back at the point of a game and say you got yourselves down 12 points; you won the game.”
He added: “You can’t really complain about anything when you win.”