With just three games remaining in the regular season, it appears the Utah Jazz and their fans are going to be holding their breath and crossing their fingers.
Suddenly, there are health issues.
Center Mehmet Okur left in the third quarter of Wednesday's blowout loss in Houston with a sore left Achilles tendon. He never returned to the floor.
Later, he had a walking boot on his left foot.
Team officials are calling it Achilles tendinitis.
"I started to feel it the last three days, and today it got worse," Okur told reporters afterward the game. "A lot worse, especially the second half."
Okur will a gametime decision for tonight's game at New Orleans.
Forward Andrei Kirilenko is dealing with a strained calf muscle and has missed six in a row and 12 of Utah's last 14 games.
He has been listed as "doubtful" for tonight's game.
Backup center Kyrylo Fesenko has had a sore throat for the past few days, causing him to miss the last two games.
He will be a gametime decision tonight.
Fesenko hasn't faced many injuries this season, but has missed six games with health issues.
Twice he has been held out due to stomach viruses, costing him a total of four games.
"I'm not much of a doctor, but he does get sick a lot," coach Jerry Sloan said Wednesday.
Sloan was understanding of the fact his third-year center is living a long way away from his native Ukraine.
"Sometimes you have to give the benefit of the doubt on that," he said.
Still, Fesenko is missing out on some opportunities to play while Okur is out of the lineup.
No. 3 center Kosta Koufos has picked up the slack.
"(Fesenko has missed) a couple of opportunities he would have gotten -- but he was sick, or didn't feel well," Sloan said.
"We try to get (Fesenko) to understand he's got a terrific amount of talent," Sloan added. "But a lot of guys have talent, and you've got to be ready to take advantage of it when you get the opportunity."
* TIRED FROM TRAVEL: The Jazz's loss to the Rockets on Wednesday came on the second night of a difficult back-to-back series, which helps explain the 113-96 beatdown.
They beat Oklahoma City in overtime on Tuesday, then boarded their charter to Houston. However, because of weather in Salt Lake City their plane had to be de-iced.
By the time they completed the 1,200-plus mile flight to Houston and arrived at their hotel, it was after 4 a.m.
"I don't know why (the NBA) always schedules that for us," Williams said. "It seems like we always have that once a year. We don't get in 'till like 3 in the morning. But that's how it is."
Williams suggested it would have been easier for the team to stay in Salt Lake Tuesday night, then travel to Houston the next morning.
"I'd almost rather stay over in Salt Lake and fly here in the morning," he said. "I don't think the league will let you do that, which is crazy."
Ever the pragmatist, Sloan wasn't going to let anyone use an excuse.
"This is a long trip ... when they didn't have charters," he said.
"When you get off (at George Bush Intercontinental Airport) at 2:30 in the afternoon, and you've got an hour bus ride to get downtown and go play -- I don't have a lot of sympathy for riding on a charter and getting here at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning," he said. "Because you still have a lot of time to get ready."
* POSTSEASON TICKETS ON SALE: Single-game playoff tickets for home games Nos. 1 and 2 will be made available today beginning at 10 a.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the EnergySolutions Arena box office or by calling (801) 355-SEAT. They also will be available through www.utahjazz.com as well as all Smith's Tix outlets.