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Utah Jazz: Jeremy Evans put on inactive list to make room for Memo

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 11:43 p.m. MDT

Raja Bell, left, Francisco Elson and Mehmet Okur watch during the final minutes of play as the Utah Jazz lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Raja Bell, left, Francisco Elson and Mehmet Okur watch during the final minutes of play as the Utah Jazz lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

NEW ORLEANS — Suiting up for a game took on a different meaning for Jeremy Evans on Friday night.

For the first time while healthy, the Western Kentucky rookie sported his Sunday-best charcoal-colored two-piece suit for the Jazz's game against the New Orleans Hornets.

The occasion was more special for Mehmet Okur than Utah's second-round pick. Memo's return to action after his Achilles surgery rehab gave the Jazz one guy too many for the game.

Only allowed to dress 12 guys in uniforms, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan placed Evans on the inactive list for the night.

"He was fine," Sloan said of Evans' reaction. "He didn't have any tantrums or anything, felt good about it.

"I hope he doesn't handle it as a punishment," he added. "It's not punishment."

Now that Okur has returned and will work his way into the regular rotation, Sloan admitted his inactive player du jour could change every game.

"That will be a question I'm sure each game," Sloan said, "because I don't know how we'll try to do it with 13 guys."

Because Okur had been out all season, Evans became the first healthy Utah player to land on the inactive list for a game. He smiled when asked about being ruled out.

"I knew he was coming soon," Evans said, "so I was ready."

Evans considers it a blessing that he's even been able to play at all his rookie year. He has appeared in 13 games, averaging 2.8 points on an eye-opening 68.2 percent shooting. His three dunks off the bench helped energize the Jazz in a win over Golden State on Monday.

"I've enjoyed every minute of it," Evans said before Friday's tipoff. "That's what I was telling coach a few minutes ago, (I'm) just enjoying the moment just to play with other guys."

Because of his coach-approved work ethic, Evans won't have to change his M.O.

"Just continue to play hard," Evans said. "Coach says stay focused and don't let yourself down (because) I'm not playing, keep working and don't lose your conditioning."

Sloan likes both Evans' attitude and approach.

"When you're in that position, all you can do is work to try to make yourself better every day, and he's done that."

BACK AT IT: Netherlands native Francisco Elson was reunited with his team as a legal employee in the U.S. once again. The backup center had to go to Ottawa to re-up his working visa this week, forcing him to miss Monday's game while the issue was resolved.

"It was something that had to be taken care of," Elson said, "so we got it taken care of. ... I'm just glad we got it worked out."

Because of a mandatory 48-hour wait to re-enter the U.S., Elson also got "a good couple of days off" in Canada.

Elson ended up playing 15 minutes — all in the second half — in Friday's 100-71 loss.

TASTE OF NEW ORLEANS: Utah's rookies, Evans and Gordon Hayward, had a special request from Raja Bell for their required gameday culinary delivery to the team. Instead of the standard bagels or doughnuts, the NBA newbies had to bring their more experienced teammates a batch of beignets, the French pastries that are a popular item in the Big Easy.

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