HOUSTON — The Utah Jazz had plenty of room — too much room — on the basketball court during their shootaround at the Toyota Center this morning.
Because of injuries, the Jazz are down to 10 available bodies, and one of them is a guy just called up from the D-League.
The sidelined five includes former starters Raja Bell (knee), Josh Howard (knee) and C.J. Miles (calf) along with backups Earl Watson (calf) and Jeremy Evans (ankle).
Coach Tyrone Corbin said he'll keep the same starting lineup tonight against the Rockets (6 p.m., ROOT) that took the court Monday against San Antonio.
That means third-year forward DeMarre Carroll will start again along with Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
Corbin admitted there might be some creative lineups as the Jazz (30-28) try to pull off a surprising win at Houston (32-25) and remain in the playoff hunt.
"We've been blessed all year pretty much of keeping guys healthy. All of a sudden, we've got some guys down," Corbin said. "But, you know what, we've been making adjustments pretty much all year. We've had everybody ready to play and the guys have been tremendous about responding to different positions and different combinations, so we expect it to continue."
Corbin said new Jazzman Blake Ahearn, signed Tuesday to a 10-day contract, might even see some action. Corbin lauded the combo guard for his basketball IQ and for his ability to light it up from deep.
Corbin called the matchup against the Rockets "a huge game for us." The winner will earn an important playoff tiebreaker, seeing as the teams have split their previous two meetings.
"We understand it's a big game," Corbin added. "They're playing well. We're on their home floor, but we're capable of beating them."
Forward Jeremy Evans will not play in this game because of his sprained right ankle, injured Monday night. He was sporting a walking boot while watching shootaround and said he can't put too much pressure yet on his swollen ankle.
"I can walk on it and move, but taking it off, I can stand on it," Evans said. "But I want to be able to run and jump to my best."
Ahearn gave an interesting interview following shootaround. He jokingly admitted he doesn't pass the NBA "eye test" and has been asked by security if he belonged with the team before boarding a plane.
The 27-year-old guard, who most recently played for the Reno Bighorns of the D-League, also talked about seizing his golden opportunity and discussed how hard it was to leave behind his wife and hospitalized prematurely born infant girl. He offered a humorous anecdote about the gift his daughter, Blake, gave him on his way to join the Jazz. (Read the interview here.)
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