Josh Howard is back.
Maybe not the Dallas version of Howard. But the early-season version of the Jazz small forward who was beginning to become dangerous before suffering a left quadriceps injury? He’s definitely back.
Heading into a home game Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, Howard had averaged 15.3 points on 54.2 percent field-goal shooting and seven rebounds in his last three games. He’s been active with the ball in his hands, unafraid to release and fire. And he’s again caught the eye of Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who’s considering making Howard a permanent starter.
"I’m back to a position where I’m used to playing at. I just feel good," said Howard prior to tipoff against Houston. "I’m here for coach. However he wants to use me, I’ll just come out [ready]."
Howard’s recent first-unit promotion only occurred due to injury — starting shooting guard Raja Bell (strained left adductor) has missed four consecutive games. But Corbin loves what he’s seen from Howard since the nine-year veteran poured in 19 points and grabbed six rebounds in 32 minutes during a road loss to Minnesota last Wednesday. And Howard’s surge won’t make Corbin’s decision any easier once Bell returns.
"I really do [like him]. The way that he can read and cut. He wait[s] and his timing is really good," Corbin said. "He come[s] off and he’s usually got a good look, or he can turn the corner and get on top of the basket."
Bell sat out the Rockets game, but he’s eyeing a return Friday against Miami.
After putting up jump shots with Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek on Wednesday morning and using an underwater treadmill, Utah’s starting 2 said his only remaining hurdle is lateral movement.
"That’s the real test for it," Bell said. "If [I] can handle that, we’ll give it a whirl."
Corbin does not plan to name a team captain this season. … Jazz starting power forward Paul Millsap (bruised left heel) didn’t play against the Rockets, while Jamaal Tinsley (flu) was out. X-rays taken Wednesday of Millsap’s heel were negative, but he was diagnosed with a severe bruise. "It’s sore," Millsap said. "I’ll just stay off it and take it day-to-day." … Utah forward Jeremy Evans was honored at EnergySolutions Arena center court before tipoff. Jazz CEO Greg Miller, owner Gail Miller, president Randy Rigby and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert presented Evans with a declaration in honor of his 2012 NBA slam-dunk contest title. Wednesday — Leap Day — was also named Jeremy Evans Day in the high flyer’s honor.
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