Jazz forward Karl Malone has missed only four games in his career, all during the regular season. But this week he has been slowed by the flu, and it was clear he wasn't his normal self in the last two games.
Though Malone has refused to blame the flu for his sub-par performances, he admits it wasn't a good time to be under the weather. "It's a h--- of a time to get sick," Malone said. "Unless it was something I ate. Otherwise, it's up to the Man above. And when that happens I don't question that much. In fact, I don't question it at all."While much has been made of Malone's sickness, less has been said of Houston guard Mario Elie.
Elie, who came off the bench to score seven points, including one crucial 3-pointer on Sunday, has also been bothered by the flu. He ate breakfast Sunday morning and then played the game.
"I had a good breakfast. I told (Coach) Rudy (Tomjanovich) and the guys I was ready to play. They played me. It was good he had me out there in a key situation, which I like," he said.
Having given away their first-round draft pick this year as part of the Jeff Hornacek-Jeff Malone trade, the Jazz are preparing for what will likely be a minor addition in this year's draft. They have only a second-round pick, which will be No. 47 overall.
Jazz Director of Basketall Operations Scott Layden says, however, that he's optimistic. The reason? The Jazz got Bryon Russell at No. 45 a year ago, and he went on to start 48 games as a rookie.
"I wouldn't feel bad at all if we got another Bryon Russell," Layden said.
Perhaps the Jazz should call an astrologist for Game 6.
Bobbye Sloan, wife of coach Jerry Sloan, says that before Game 7 of the Denver-Utah series, a psychic called to inform them the Jazz would win the final game - which they did.
But no otherworldly calls have come in concerning the Houston series.
In the look-on-the-bright-side department comes this from Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek: "I hate to say this is a good situation for us, but when we had a Game 7 against Denver, we came out ready to play."
Layden says rookie Luther Wright, who was placed on the injured list last winter due to what Wright's agent said was a bout with manic depression, is working out again.
Layden said Wright's body fat is down, and he is practicing daily. The Jazz say they plan to have Wright with the team during the rookie camp and summer league. The Jazz would like Wright to play well in the summer league so he can begin to help the team. But privately, some in the organization are hoping Wright will play well in the summer so the Jazz can trade him.