Houston — Notes following Jazz shootaround Wednesday morning at Toyota Center.
Utah forward Jeremy Evans (sprained right ankle) is out against the Rockets. Evans said his ankle swelled after he injured it Monday during a home win against San Antonio, and the injury is worse than ones he suffered in college. Evans wore a protective boot Wednesday and didn't go through shootaround. He's unsure whether he'll be able to play Friday at New Orleans and will re-evaluate his ankle Thursday.
With Evans out, Utah will only have 10 active players against Houston. Four are 22 oryounger, while Jamaal Tinsley, DeMarre Carroll and Blake Ahearn played a combined 12 games in the NBA during the 2010-11 season.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said he'll again start Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Corbin's willing to use Ahearn, but acknowledged it has to be in the right situation.
Ahearn received a DVD to help him learn Utah's plays and he shot 3-pointers with Jazz assistant Jeff Hornaceck after shootaround. Ahearn has a good set shot, stroke and follow through. He shoots in a classic, old-school style.
Raja Bell planned to get in a light stationary running workout. Running Man Jamaal Tinsley said he was about to go test the asphalt and sidewalks on the mean streets of Houston.
Evans on injury: It depends how it feels when I wake up. That's the biggest thing — I'll wake up in the morning and see how it feels to walk on it.
Corbin on first impression of Ahearn: His IQ. The way he seems to pick things up and where he's been. He's not really rattled. He's been in the league before, so he's used to coming in and trying to figure it out really quickly. And the way he can shoot the ball. If you give him opportunities on the floor — the way we throw the ball inside, if he space the floor, the guy makes shots and we can use that.
Putting Ahearn in the game: We'll look and see where things are. I just want to make sure — I don't want to put him in there and he's really uncomfortable with what we're trying to run and what's working well for us. So we'll make sure we're talking to him during the course of the game.
Being creative as a coach to get Jazz in playoffs: Just understanding who we are and what gives us a chance in our personnel. The guys I've talked to about, 'Look, it may be a little different for you for a minute, because that's just where we are.' Just play. Play as much as you can and try not to think [too much] or think, 'I'm at this position and that's not where I'm used to playing.' Just kind of play through it because of where we are. And that's just making adjustments because of the time.
Importance of Rockets game: This game is a huge game for us. Houston could be a tiebreaker situation. They're in sixth place, only two and a half games ahead of us. It's a one-game swing, one way or the other.
Surreal situation with injuries and fighting for playoff spot: You know what? You can't feel sorry for yourself. I look at it more like, 'Here we go. Here we go. Let's crank it up.' And I told the guys in the locker room the other night it's an opportunity for somebody else to step up and get some more minutes.
Brian T. Smith
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