OKLAHOMA CITY — A pair of former Utah Jazz players find themselves in a position to try and help the Oklahoma City Thunder get back to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
And, ironically, both of them played for Utah the last time the Jazz reached the Western Conference finals in 2007.
Veteran guard Derek Fisher, who spent just one season in Utah before asking for his release to attend to his daughter's health crisis — he left the Jazz, signed with the Los Angles Lakers (much to the chagrin of Jazz fans, many of whom have never forgiven him), and wound up being a member of back-to-back NBA championship teams in L.A. in 2009 and '10 — signed with OKC on Feb. 25.
Similarly, a year ago, Fisher signed with Oklahoma City late last season and played in the Thunder's last 20 games, including their run to the NBA Finals, where they eventually lost to the Miami Heat.
The 17-year NBA veteran, with a total of five NBA titles on his resume, had been averaging 14 minutes a game coming off the Thunder bench before Wednesday night's game, when he played 19 productive minutes and scored 10 points in Oklahoma City's 110-87 victory over the Jazz.
Ronnie Brewer, who was selected by the Jazz with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, spent most of four seasons with Utah before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010. He has since bounced around, playing with the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, who traded him to Oklahoma City on Feb. 21 for a future second-round draft pick and cash considerations.
Brewer has played in only five games for the Thunder since the trade.
"There's not a lot of minutes right now," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks told the Daily Oklahoman. "But we're happy that we have him. It gives us an option if we need it. But right now he just has to stay ready."
Brewer got some garbage time in Wednesday's win, however, as he entered the game with 4:44 remaining and wound up scoring four points with an assist and a couple of rebounds.
Fisher entered the game late in the first quarter and drilled a pair of 3-pointers during little more than a 11/2-minute span of the second period to help the Thunder open up a 50-28 halftime lead. He finished the game going 4-for-5 from the field with an assist, four fouls and three turnovers.
NOT JUST A DUNKER: Seldom-used forward Jeremy Evans, the 2012 NBA dunk champion during All-Star weekend, got an opportunity to play major minutes in Monday night's win over Detroit due to Paul Millsap's absence.
Evans responded with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting plus a pair of free throws, and he also had seven rebounds, two blocked shots and a career-high five assists in 24 very productive minutes on the floor.
"I thought Jeremy gave us some great minutes the other night," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "His activity on the defensive end especially, and he made some shots for us. Again, it shows a guy working and staying ready and maximizing his opportunity.
"He had a great 20-some-odd minutes that he played and I thought all the minutes were productive minutes for him.
"His confidence level is getting better," Corbin said of Evans, a stringbean 6-foot-9 third-year NBA player. "He is who he is; he's a very active guy, he's athletic as everybody knows, but he steps off and makes jump shots, the way he can recover on the defensive end and try and do the right things there, he's continued to grow his game because he's working hard."
Millsap was mighty pleased with his teammate's performance, too.
"Jeremy did great, he did great," Millsap said. "He's been doing the things that he knows that he can do, and he's getting more confident in shooting the basketball.1 comment on this story
"I was sitting back there (behind the Jazz bench) getting excited for him, going crazy back there, because he's really stepping into his shot and shooting it with confidence. And you like to see that."
Evans didn't get in until the last 2:47 of Wednesday night's game and scored three points with a steal.