Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Only one Utah Jazz player remains eligible to join the exclusive 82-game club.
Begrudgingly, Deron Williams lost his chance to play a complete regular season when he was forced to sit out Friday against Minnesota because of his hyper-extended right wrist.
Veteran Earl Watson filled in for Williams, who was the only Jazz player other than Al Jefferson to have played in every game this season.
And D-Will was not at all thrilled an injury forced him to sit this one out — in what turned out to be a skid-snapping 108-100 win — after re-aggravating his wrist in Wednesday's game.
"I feel like I can't hold the ball. If I could play, I could play," Williams said after Friday morning's shootaround. "I'm not one of them people that sits out for little injuries. My goal every year is to play 82 games, so I'm (ticked) off I can't play.
"(But) I can't play."
The team is not sure if Williams will be available for Sunday night's game at Golden State.
"We hope we get him back as soon as we can," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Losing doesn't taste very good."
The Jazz received some good news on Williams' wrist, which caused him problems last season as well. An MRI taken on the injured wrist on Thursday revealed no structural damage, according to the team's medical staff.
Sporting a snazzy suit, Williams sat next to assistant coach Scott Layden on the Jazz bench and cheered on his teammates Friday night.
INJURY REPORT CONTINUED: Center Mehmet Okur's status for Sunday is also unknown. He left Friday's game in the first half and did not return because of a strained lower back. That injury kept the 6-foot-11 backup out of six games in the past month.
While quickly leaving the locker room after the game, Okur briefly said his back "tightened up" on him.
Also, backup big man Kyrylo Fesenko missed his third consecutive contest with a sinus infection.
Starters Paul Millsap (thumb) and Raja Bell (sore neck/left shoulder) were game-time decisions but played Friday.
EVANS IMPRESSING: Jazz management had no choice but to give second-round pick Jeremy Evans a guaranteed contract after he wowed them with his athleticism and work ethic.
Now the Western Kentucky product is giving the Jazz coaching staff no choice but to play him, too.
"Jeremy Evans has put more pressure on us to put him on the floor," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Friday morning. "He's played pretty consistent when he's been out there."
Evans had two of his best performances in back-to-back games earlier this week, when he scored 10 points against the Los Angeles Lakers and added a high-flying spark and seven points against the San Antonio Spurs.
"Yeah, he's going to be mismatched some," Sloan said of Evans' slight 6-foot-9, 196-pound frame. "But his energy and his excitement for playing is encouraging."
Evans averaged 8.5 minutes in those two games this week. He only played four minutes Friday, when he made the 22nd appearance of his rookie season.
Evans admitted he still has work, but he's noticed improvement in his game since training camp.
'I think I'm a little bit more aggressive than I was coming in, because that was always one of my problems. I think I've picked it up," Evans said. "Just watching the older guys and seeing what they're doing is helping me a lot."
LOVE FOR LOVE: Jefferson believes playing on a bad team kept him out of the All-Star Game a few years ago during what he called an "unbelievable year" in Minnesota, but he doesn't think that same fate should happen to his former T-Wolf teammate, Kevin Love.
Coaches cast votes for All-Star reserves, but Big Al would stuff the ballot box for the NBA's leading rebounder.
"I just can't see how you could have an All-Star Game and not have Kevin Love in it this year," Jefferson said. "I know the team's not doing so well, but the things he's doing is unreal."
Love had totals in points (22) and rebounds (15) right around his season averages against the Jazz.
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