The Jazz had so few healthy players Sunday — one, rookie big man Robert Whaley, is out with a lacerated hand sustained in what the team said was a "kitchen accident" — they did not have enough for a full-fledged practice.

Considering that tonight's opponent Detroit is one of the best the NBA has to offer this season, that's not a good thing for coach Jerry Sloan's club.

"This is one thing (we) don't need . . . a lot of injuries right now," starting center Greg Ostertag said. "And we seem to be having too many of them."

The rundown: Ostertag will undergo an MRI exam today on his inflamed right knee; Whaley needed six stitches on his right hand; forward Andrei Kirilenko was out Sunday with an intestinal virus; rookie point guard Deron Williams has an ear infection; starting shooting guard Gordan Giricek still is bothered by Achilles tendonitis; starting small forward Matt Harpring's surgically repaired right knee was inflamed Sunday; and forward Carlos Boozer remains out for the season with his strained hamstring.

Among the latest maladies, Ostertag's could be most serious.

"It's something that hurts all the time," he said Sunday. "It just has different days."

Ostertag hopes the MRI will reveal what is wrong with the knee, which prompted him to leave Friday's loss to Seattle prematurely.

"It didn't catch like in the Phoenix game (which he exited earlier this season), but it was the same pain, where I didn't want to push off, didn't want to jump off of it," he said. "What it looks like what it may come down to is just how much of the pain I can play through, and whether I'm affected or not."

The Jazz had few details to offer regarding Whaley's injury.

They said he cut himself with a kitchen knife, apparently slicing the webbing between his thumb and index finger.

Whaley was treated at a local hospital, but trainer Gary Briggs was not able to immediately speak with the doctor who closed the cut to determine the extent of damage to the hand.

Kirilenko, Williams and Harpring all are "probable" for tonight, and Giricek — who sat out Friday — is being called "day-to-day."

One good bit of injury news for the Jazz: After sitting out 13 games due to an avulsion fracture in his lower back, point guard Keith McLeod is much-improved.

"I think I'm ready now," McLeod said Sunday.

But Boozer, who on Sunday was to have returned from his home in Los Angeles to rejoin the team for a few days, remains out long-term.

Still, the 8-12 Jazz are trying not to be too sick about all their medical woes.

"I still believe that if we can get everybody to be healthy and get Boozer back . . . we can be competitive," Ostertag said. "You look at the big scheme of things, we're only four games under .500 right now — and we really haven't been super-healthy all year.

"As a team, we can't hold our heads down. We have to be a little bit excited with where we're at (considering) the situation we've gone through."

Sloan said much the same, albeit more succinctly.

"I'm not frustrated," the Jazz coach said. "That's reality."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com