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Utah Jazz notebook: Illnesses, injuries don't bog down Jazz

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012 10:58 p.m. MST

Utah's Earl Watson celebrates a scoring spree with teammates Jeremy Evans and C.J. Miles as the Utah Jazz defeat the Houston Rockets as they play NBA basketball Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Wednesday night was a rare one for the Utah Jazz.

And not just because they won a game for a change.

The Jazz have dodged bullets so far this year on the health front, but they were down three players because of injuries and an illness in their 104-83 win over Houston.

Even without Paul Millsap (bruised heel), Raja Bell (strained adductor) and Jamaal Tinsley (stomach flu) in this one, however, the Jazz have only officially missed 18 man games in 34 outings because of medical reasons.

Starting point guard Devin Harris left early because of nausea Wednesday, but that was after he poured in 19 points.

"There are so many games. At some point it may happen to you," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We've been fortunate."

Millsap's absence was the most surprising. The power forward had played in all 33 games this season, and has now only missed 13 of 444 games in his six-year NBA career.

Millsap bruised his left heel in Tuesday's loss at Sacramento, but X-rays taken Wednesday morning were negative. Millsap said his foot was sore after the Kings' game, but he was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

It takes quite the injury for Millsap to be sidelined, though. He is cut from the same cloth as legendary NBA ironmen John Stockton and Karl Malone, having played all 82 games in three different seasons.

That can be a good and bad thing. Corbin said the Jazz have to be diligent in attending to injuries during this compressed season.

"I respect the fact that he don't like missing games and he's not a guy that's going to whine about little nagging injuries. He play through most of them," Corbin said. "We respect that, but we've got to be smart about that to make sure we're as healthy as we can be to get on the floor."

Bell missed his fourth consecutive game due to his groin injury. But he was able to shoot with assistant Jeff Hornacek in the morning and worked out on a water treadmill.

"It felt pretty good today," Bell said. "(Today), I hope to start moving side to side. That's the real test for it. If it can handle that, we'll give it a whirl."

Bell hopes to return for Friday's home game against Miami.

The Jazz won't practice Thursday, giving players an extra day to heal up.

BIG DAY: Gov. Gary Herbert joined Jazz brass to honor Jeremy Evans during a pregame ceremony. During the tribute, Evans received his trophy from the All-Star Weekend contest, which he had to leave behind in Orlando to get engraved.

An official declaration from Herbert was also read to the arena crowd, which included this statement:

"Whereas, as residents of the State of Utah, we are tremendously proud of Jeremy for becoming the first Utah Jazz player to win the NBA slam dunk contest and literally personify our state slogan, 'Life Elevated.'

"Now, therefore, I, Gary R. Herbert, governor of the State of Utah, do hereby declare the appropriately named Leap Day, February 29, 2012, as Jeremy Evans Day."

Evans was honored by the recognition.

"That's amazing," Evans said. "I've got to hurry up and get out of here so I can enjoy the rest of the day before it's over with."

JAZZ DEBUT: DeMarre Carroll has been with the Jazz for three weeks, although you wouldn't know that from looking at box scores. Before Wednesday, he'd been inactive six times and dressed but didn't play in three other games.

That finally changed against Houston.

The small forward played the final 3:09, received a big cheer when he scored a bucket and also grabbed two rebounds.

"Just to be out there on the court is always good," said Carroll, who was picked up off of waivers on Feb. 8 after being released by Denver last month. "You know, it felt good to be out there running with the guys and actually just play basketball."

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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