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Jazz play game with injured list

HOUSTON — The Jazz on Tuesday continued playing musical chairs with their spare players, activating second-year guard Quincy Lewis from the injured list and placing veteran forward David Benoit back on it prior to Tuesday night's 109-86 loss to the Houston Rockets.

Lewis, who scored 8 points in 20 off-the-bench minutes, had been on the list since Jan. 23 with a supposed case of knee tendinitis. Benoit, who was also on the list with a strained deltoid muscle in his right shoulder from Jan. 25 through March 2, is now supposed to have a strain of the same muscle in his left shoulder.

In seasons past, the Jazz have complained adamantly that many NBA teams abuse the injured list, which provides space for three players beyond the 12 on the active roster.

The league, however, often overlooks the fact players who are not really hurt are placed on the list, essentially allowing teams to carry more than 12.

So the Jazz have joined the other offenders this season and have freely shuffled Benoit, Lewis, Scott Padgett and DeShawn Stevenson on and off the list despite the fact all four are quite healthy.

OLYMPIC QUESTION: There was once a time when Jazz coach Jerry Sloan figured he was in line to be named head coach of the United States men's basketball team for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. That day passed, though, when Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich was tapped ahead of Sloan, an assistant to Lenny Wilkens on the 1996 gold-medal-winning team at the Summer Games in Atlanta.

"I thought I was under consideration (previously), or should have been then — but that's fine," Sloan said. "That's water under the bridge, and it's no big deal."

With Sloan signing a three-year contract extension and coaching his 1,000th game for the Jazz earlier this year, and Jazz basketball operations vice president Kevin O'Connor recently being named to the committee that selects players and a head coach for the U.S.'s next World Championships and Olympic squads, the subject of Sloan's interest in international coaching has cropped again. Some national media members have even suggested Sloan should be considered as a candidate to coach the 2004 Olympic Team in Athens, Greece.

Sloan, however, isn't so sure and is even uncertain if, in the event he were asked, he would be willing to give up off-season free time perhaps better spent on his Illinois farm.

"I haven't really given any thought to it. I don't even know why I would," he said. "I don't know what I would do if I was offered it."

MISC.: Utah's Karl Malone was 5-of-14 from the floor Tuesday, including the 12,000th field goal of his 16-season career. . . . Former Jazz swingman Shandon Anderson of the Rockets was originally listed as "out" for Tuesday's game due to a sprained right foot, but he played anyway, scoring 15. Dating back to his stint in Utah, Anderson has played in 324 consecutive games — the fifth-longest active NBA streak behind only Miami's A.C. Green, Michael Finley of Dallas, former Jazz guard Howard Eisley of Dallas, and Milwaukee's Ray Allen. . . . Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon, originally believed to be out for the season with a blood clot in his left leg, returned to a lengthy standing ovation after missing nine games. To make room on their 12-man roster for Olajuwon, who scored 11 points in 21 off-the-bench minutes, the Rockets conveniently decided they needed to place guard Sean Colson on the injured list with "a sore right foot." . . . Rockets starting forward Maurice Taylor left after playing 12 minutes due to Achilles tendon strains in both feet and did not return.


E-MAIL: tbuckley@desnews.com