HOUSTON — The Jazz are regretting not taking care of business.
That's because with the Los Angeles Lakers having disposed of Denver late Monday night, Kobe Bryant and friends were able to take in Tuesday night's Game 5 of the Jazz-Houston Rockets NBA playoff series knowing their job — at least for the time being — is done.
The feeling will be the same Friday night, as the Lakers rest while Utah and Houston play a Game 6.
Dismissing of the Nuggets in four straight games, Jazz forward Matt Harpring suggested, most definitely will benefit the Lakers.
"Obviously," he said, "they've got time to scout us right now, and they're gonna look at all these films that we just played and they're gonna know every single play that we're gonna run and know us pretty well.
"Sweeping," Harpring added, "is huge for them — preparation, and rest-wise."
T-MAC HURTING? According to the Houston Chronicle, Rockets star Tracy McGrady revealed that he's been "playing on a left knee that's in such bad shape that he has had to take pain-killing injections just to get on the floor."
McGrady also hinted at the possibility of offseason surgery, according to the newspaper.
The response from Jazz small forward Andrei Kirilenko, McGrady's chief defender late in games throughout the series?
"He's a great player, and he's playing so much on the floor," Kirilenko said. "I'm not surprised if he has ... some injury problem."
McGrady, though, showed no signs of the injury in Game 5, scoring a game-high 29.
Kirilenko, meanwhile, has been quietly hurting too.
"If you take a look at my knee, I have bruises everywhere," he said with a glance at his discolored right knee. "But what are you going to do about it?"
I DON'T UNDERSTAND: Hobbling Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko was recalled from the lockerroom Tuesday morning to join fellow rookie Morris Almond for a Happy Birthday song performed for reserve point guard Jason Hart, who turned 30 years old Tuesday.
Reporters listened and cameras rolled as the two struggled through the song.
"He's definitely got to work on the tune," point guard Deron Williams said.
But at least Fesenko — a Ukraine native — knew the words, right?
"Fess will act like he doesn't knows words, but he knows them," Williams said. "He's one of those guys that when the cop pull him over, he doesn't speak English all of a sudden."
STEVENSON FINED: The NBA this week fined ex-Jazz guard DeShawn Stevenson of the Washington Wizards $25,000 for making what it called a "menacing gesture" during a playoff game against Cleveland.
According to the Washington Post, Stevenson was fined because before going "to the foul line, he lifted his hands and 'threw up the diamond,' connecting his thumbs and his index fingers in the shape of a diamond like the rapper Jay-Z does to symbolize the Roc-a-fella 'dynasty.' Afterward, Stevenson made a throat-slashing gesture, which is a no-no with the league office."
"No doubt the gesture," the Post report added, "was Stevenson's not-so-subtle response to (a) Stevenson diss record Jay-Z made for (Cavaliers star LeBron) James."
Stevenson and James have engaged in a season-long feud.
MISC.: The 69 points scored by Utah on Tuesday is a Houston franchise opponent postseason low. The previous low: Seattle had 70 in a 1982 game. ... Fesenko, who would have been inactive anyway, said the left ankle he said sprained in practice Monday is "not bad" and should sideline him "not long." He was wearing a walking boot, however. ... With Hart back from a bout from the flu, Almond was inactive again for Game 5.