Jeremy did great. He didn't shock us, because we know what he can do. He does it every day in practice, gets out there and shoots shots. So to see him shoot it with confidence in a game and make them, it's a big momentum builder for him and a big confidence booster for him. —Paul Millsap
MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Enes Kanter got most of the spotlight Friday night, and deservedly so.
Put up the team's first 20-20 game in regulation in three-plus years, and you're bound to have praise come your way.
But the Jazz were also quite excited about another backup's big night.
Jeremy Evans, who seems only to get playing time during dunk contests, had the best game of his three-year NBA career with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Evans played a whopping 26 minutes during the 98-68 blowout of the Bobcats, too.
That was more time than he'd seen in his past seven appearances combined, dating back to Jan. 19. He didn't see any playing time in 11 games in that same stretch, by the way.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who's always complimentary of Evans even while not playing him, said he was impressed by "the growth that he’s shown in not being hesitant after not playing in a lot of games."
Evans turned down an initial shot opportunity, Corbin noted. But the springy athlete then found his groove, showing some decent touch in his mid-range game.
Corbin liked to see Evans add to his overall skill set on the court.
"He’s always going to run the floor hard. Defensively, he’s a great presence there," he said of the 6-9, 194-pounder. "I thought he was good on his man, using the weight that he does have and the strength and keeping himself between his man and the basket. He can block shots on the weak side. I thought he was a huge boost for us."
So did Evans' teammates.
"Jeremy is in there every day at least an hour and a half before practice, lifting, playing hard, and it shows," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "He was ready. His number was called on and he was ready."
Power forward Paul Millsap, whose injury-caused absence allowed for extended minutes for Evans, loved seeing the 25-year-old excel.
"Jeremy did great. He didn’t shock us, because we know what he can do. He does it every day in practice, gets out there and shoots shots," Millsap said. "So to see him shoot it with confidence in a game and make them, it’s a big momentum builder for him and a big confidence booster for him."
WALLY PIPP'D? Millsap chuckled when light-heartedly asked if he was worried that the performances of Kanter and Evans might lead to him losing his starting job.
"Definitely not," he said. "It’s good for them. It’s good for them to get out there and get the confidence up because we need them. We need everybody, and the better they play, the better our team is."
SILVER LINING: Injuries, including the most recent sprained ankles to Millsap and Al Jefferson, can be considered a blessing in disguise because of the experience given to usual bench-warmers or less-used subs.
"We’ve had some guys get some minutes on the floor," Corbin said, "and we’re excited to see them grow in those areas, so that’s been a positive for us."
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