Utah Jazz notebook: Blake Ahearn happy team signs him for rest of season

Published: Friday, April 20 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Related article: Replay of the live chat with beat writer Jody Genessy

SALT LAKE CITY — Blake Ahearn said he wasn't sitting on pins and needles Thursday afternoon. That was the day the Jazz had to decide whether they would keep the 27-year-old former Missouri State player, whose 10-day contract was up.

"I try not to worry about what I can't control," he said. "I've known that from the D-League this year and being (in the NBA) before. I find you drive yourself nuts if you do that. You just worry about what you can control and just hope for the best."

Still, Ahearn was well aware that Thursday was the day the Jazz would either cut him loose or sign him for the rest of the season.

Thankfully for him, it was the latter.

"I'm grateful I'm with a team that's in the hunt for the playoffs," he said. "You can't ask for anything better than that. I know what my strengths are. Any time that I get, I've got to make the most of it. I know if I just play my game it will help the team win."

Ahearn has been impressed with the Jazz organization and the coaches and players in his short stint in Salt Lake.

"The good thing about this team with the coaching staff and the players, it's a good, close-knit group. It's kind of like a college locker room and everybody gets along well."

Ahearn's role has mostly been leading the cheers from the shortened Jazz bench and greeting players when they come off the floor with hand slaps. But he has gotten into three games and the highlight of his Jazz career is obvious.

"It has to be the triple overtime win over Dallas," he said. "Playing the defending champions and being able to play a little bit and make my first shot for the Jazz … hopefully, there's better ones to come."

GETTING BETTER: The only downside to staying with the Jazz for at least a couple of more weeks is that Ahearn must be away from his wife and newborn daughter a little longer.

Their child was born five-and-a-half weeks premature in late March and has been in the hospital in St. Louis ever since.

"My little girl is doing well," he said. "She's been taking almost all of her feedings from a bottle. Hopefully within a week and a half or so we'll maybe bring her home."

While it's been hard being away, Ahearn said, "There's been a lot of pictures and story-telling."

BOWLING FOR DOLLARS: Most of the Jazz players and coaches spent Thursday night together, bowling, playing pool and watching the Miami-Chicago game on TV.

The occasion was Josh Howard's annual fundraiser for charity — Special Olympics Utah and the Josh Howard Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on improving the quality of life in economically challenged communities — in Park City.

"It went great, the guys had a good time," said Howard. "We've got a couple of bowlers on the scene, I didn't know they could bowl.

So who was good?

Besides himself (his 159 was one of his best ever), Howard mentioned coach Scott Layden and Enes Kanter, who he said was "pretty good for his first time bowling."

Kanter bowled a 131, but he slightly disputed Howard's story.

"Nah, I played two or three months ago," Kanter said.

Layden also downplayed his bowling ability, insisting that Howard was the best bowler at the fundraiser.

For Howard, this wasn't the first time he did such a bowling event. He said he held two of them when he was in Dallas and also has done a celebrity softball game as well as a flag football game for his foundation.

JAZZ NOTES: Howard and Raja Bell both practiced on a limited basis Friday, even though they are still listed as "out." Howard said he will definitely play if the Jazz make the playoffs and he hopes to play in one of the two regular-season games next week .…C.J. Miles was at practice, but he didn't do much more than lift a pen to sign the dozens of posters set up on the south side of the Jazz practice court. He is still listed as "out" and is unlikely to play the rest of the regular season… All of the coaches and players took about 20 minutes before practice to sign the team posters.

Related article: Replay of the live chat with beat writer Jody Genessy

email: sor@desnews.com

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