OKLAHOMA CITY — Coming into Sunday night's game, C.J. Miles had an objective in mind.
It wasn't to score a bunch of points, which he did.
It wasn't to hit his first 3-pointer of the season, which he did.
And it wasn't to rebound, block a shot, pick off a pass intended for Kevin Durant and sail in for an easy bucket or even to bust a press and then go coast-to-coast in style and power, which he also did.
Miles simply wanted to play without hearing the referees chirp in his direction, which he hadn't done yet this season.
"I made a conscious effort," Miles said, "to be as alert as possible, to not allow myself to get the dumb fouls that I've been getting."
Miles managed to do that and — go figure — provided an oh-so-helpful spark off the bench in the Jazz's 120-99 victory over the Thunder. In by far his most productive outing, the sixth man fired in 21 points while hitting 8 of 13 shots.
Miles also had four rebounds, a steal and a block.
Sure, he still had three fouls, but Miles had been averaging four of those a game. Consequently, by staying out of foul trouble, he played a season-high 25 minutes and took some turns defending Durant.
Playing without attracting quick whistles was nice.
"I was able to be on the floor and gain a sweat before I had to sit back down," Miles said, flashing a smile.
Miles was productive while sweating, too.
His steal and score in the final seconds of the first quarter helped Utah take a 27-23 lead, equaled the amount of field goals he'd made all season and the easy bucket gave him a boost.
"That helped my confidence tremendously," he said. "because I hadn't scored a basket in two games."
Miles also had a timely 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter when the Jazz went into the locker room on a 10-0 run. Another triple squashed momentum Oklahoma City gained after using a press to trim Utah's 27-point lead down to 15.
And his coast-to-coast press-breaker helped the Jazz fend off the dangerous Thunder later in the third.
Not bad for a guy who came in averaging 2.0 points on 12.5-percent shooting..
"He is a very skilled player," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "(He) can shoot the ball, can handle it. That's why we put him back in the ballgame.
"Obviously," Sloan added, "he had played well all along, he shot the ball well and when you're shooting the ball well a lot of good things happen. He's just got to keep working at it."
And stop fouling so much.
INJURY UPDATE: Rookie Jeremy Evans was the first player off the bench, replacing Paul Millsap in the first quarter after the starting power forward got his second foul.
But Evans only played six minutes before injuring his right wrist. X-rays taken at halftime were negative, and Evans expects to be back in action as early as at today's practice.
Evans said his wrist got hurt when his "arm got tangled up in a rebound situation." He received treatment on it, and said it was "not too bad — it should be good." He was bummed he didn't get to play longer, though.
NO PANIC: Everybody else might have freaked out and considered the Jazz a lost cause after their rough start, but the team didn't.
They worked together after the blowout losses in productive practices and unified when it mattered Sunday.
"The biggest thing that I was proud of the fact they stayed together," Sloan said. "That's when you expect a lot of times a team will just explode on you and you can't get it back. But they held in there, they played well together and that's what you always hope for from a coaching standpoint."
That's how Millsap saw it, too.
"We didn't push the panic button," he said. "We know our level. We know how we can play we know how we should play and we did it tonight."
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER: DJJazzyJody