It is leap year and he was recognized as the greatest leaper in the NBA with the dunks. —Jazz president Randy Rigby
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jeremy Evans will be honored prior to tipoff of Wednesday night's game against the Houston Rockets.
Considering it's Feb. 29 (aka Leap Year Day), the event-organizing entities believe the timing is, well, a slam-dunk for the lengthy leaper to receive a tribute after he jumped into the international spotlight and won the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday in Orlando.
"It is Leap Year and he was recognized as the greatest leaper in the NBA with the dunks," Jazz president Randy Rigby said. "We thought it would be a fun play."
Jazz brass is hopeful Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will be involved in the celebration.
Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, the Jazz's two participants in the Rising Stars Challenge, will also be recognized before the game.
"We celebrate our successes," Rigby said, "and it deserves to be celebrated."
Rigby thinks it's especially remarkable that Evans pulled it off after being a late injury replacement.
"I think it's really a tribute to his talent and accomplishments," Rigby said.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said Evans' winning slam was the most impressive one he's seen the second-year forward make. Evans skied over a sitting Gordon Hayward, caught two basketballs tossed up by his buddy and dunked them both.
"That's pretty tough to do," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, admitting he'd never dunked two balls at the same time.
Corbin hoped that Evans' big moment would help propel the Jazz to begin the second half.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment for the franchise. It's a great accomplishment for him," Corbin said. "It's good morale for the team. … We'd like to ride it. If that's going to be positive momentum for us, we'll take it."
Hayward smiled and said he deserved two assists for his part in Evans' dazzling dunk.
"Everyone is just excited because Jeremy's such a good guy, a humble guy," Hayward added. "For that to happen to him, I think that was really cool and special. I think people are looking forward to him maybe defending it next year."
Hayward and Favors both scored 14 points in their rookie-sophomore game, nicely representing themselves and the organization.
Evans had to part ways with the trophy after his victory. His prize has since been personally engraved and will be presented to him tonight in front of Jazz fans.
Not surprisingly, Evans has been the target of teammate teasing.
After Tuesday's shootaround, Jazz center Al Jefferson asked Evans what his first dunk was supposed to really look like. C.J. Miles jumped up and swung around on the rim a la Evans. And rookie Alec Burks, egged on by Earl Watson, told Evans that he can outjump him and jokingly challenged him to a dunk off.
NO BELL: Raja Bell's strained left adductor muscle kept the 35-year-old out of his third straight game.
"I would like to play as soon as I can," Bell said, "but until it's ready to play, I can't play."
Bell wasn't able to do much during the All-Star break other than enjoy four days off in Phoenix. He tried to run full speed in practice Monday, but he said that "didn't feel great." The shooting guard said he felt improvement Tuesday, though.
LINEUP CHANGE?: Veteran Josh Howard replaced Bell in the starting lineup again. Howard was the starting small forward, and Hayward moved into the shooting guard spot.Comment on this story
Corbin acknowledged that he's contemplating making a lineup change when Bell returns.
"We've got to be able to spice up the second group a little bit and get some scoring," the Jazz coach said before Tuesday's game. "We got to get back to that."
Corbin even said moving Hayward to a reserve role has crossed his mind because, he said, "Gordon gives us a little more versatility."
Hayward is the only Jazz player to have started in all 33 games this season.
"Right now it's so premature, until we get healthy, to see what we can do," Corbin said. "Could be (Hayward). We'll see."