Utah Jazz notebook: Team enjoys big fan turnout in Memphis
MEMPHIS — It wasn't announced or celebrated, but the Memphis Grizzlies hosted some Utah Jazz family and friend reunions.
Jeremy Evans and Al Jefferson, both of whom grew up a few hours from Memphis, accounted for nearly 70 of the 14,781 fans at the FedEx Forum.
Evans had 38 supporters in attendance, including his mom, grandpa and community and church members from his small Arkansas hometown of Crossett.
Evans' fans were excited they were able to seem him so close to home.
"Especially them coming to an NBA game — and just a lot of them," Evans said. "A couple of them made it to college games ... but I'm sure they're loving this a lot better."
At least they got to see him in a uniform. Evans didn't get off the bench in the Jazz's 110-99 loss.
Jefferson bought 28 tickets for a group from Prentiss, Miss.
Jerry Sloan even had family attend. The Jazz coach also had an unexpected encounter with a fan of his before the game tipped off. The Oak Ridge Boys lead singer, Duane Allen, sat courtside and arranged to meet Sloan, who has long been a fan of the country group.
(No word on if Elvira attended or if Allen yelled out "Oom papa mow mow" on good Jazz plays.)
It's likely nobody was more excited to come than the smiling woman in the No. 40 Jazz jersey.
That's Evans' number.
And that was his proud mom, who made the 3-1/2-hour trek to see her son, who is living the NBA dream after being picked by the Jazz out of Western Kentucky in the second round last summer.
"I'm still pinching myself," said Gwyn Evans, grinning before tipoff. "It's just so surreal."
Jeremy's mom made the trip to Utah once, and has also traveled to see him in places like Atlanta and Dallas. So, yes, she has seen Evans in action.
"They're all just so excited," Evans' mom said for her group.
They've also been converted to cheering for the Beehive State's basketball team, including grandpa in his Jazz hat.
"Some of these people used to be other fans, like Lakers' fans or Dallas Mavericks' fans," Evans said. "Now we're all Utah Jazz fans."
QUIET NIGHT: Friday was not C.J. Miles' night. Not only did he see single-digit minutes for only the second time this season, but he ended up going scoreless for the first time all year.
Sloan thought Miles looked like he wasn't completely over the flu that kept him out of three games from Dec. 29 through Jan. 1.
"I think C.J.'s still sick," Sloan said of the small forward who only took one shot. "His energy level looks really low, and I went with someone else. Just a gut reaction."
In Miles' absence, Earl Watson (19 minutes) and Ronnie Price (17 minutes) both saw extended action.
Miles, who averages 23.1 minutes off the bench this season, wasn't sure why he didn't play as much as he normally does.
He only saw 26 seconds in the second half, and that stint came at the end with the outcome decided.
"I play when they call my name," said Miles, who has played in three consecutive games following his illness. "They call my name, I go play. It's as simple as that."
Whatever the case, Miles said he won't let one game get his spirits down. Having gone through situations throughout his six-year career in which his minutes were much more sporadic than they have been this season has helped him not freak out when things like this happen.
"I ain't even going to look into it," Miles said. "I'm just going to keep doing what I do, keep preparing every game like I'm going to play.
"Mentally, it doesn't really bother me. It doesn't psyche me out any more," Miles said. "It's like, just be ready to go play basketball, go play the game when they tell you to."
MINER MIRACLE: Perhaps Chile's biggest Elvis fan — and one of the country's biggest international stars — attended this game.
Edison Pena, one of the 33 miners miraculously rescued after being trapped for 69 days last year, was honored by Memphis after visiting Graceland earlier Friday.
Pena became famous for singing Elvis songs in the mine and has since participated in the New York Marathon and appeared on the David Letterman Show.
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