WASHINGTON — The cause of Jason Hart's lower-back inflammation is a bulging disc, the Jazz's backup point guard revealed Friday.

"I have a little strain, a bulging disc — nothing serious, for surgery, anyway," said Hart, who has missed three games already because of the back, will not play in the Jazz's ESPN-televised game tonight at Washington and does not expect to play when Utah closes a back-to-back road set Saturday night at Memphis.

Bulging disc is a term some use to describe the injury that occurs when one of the shock-absorbing discs between vertebrae protrudes in a non-ruptured fashion into the spinal canal, sometimes pressing against one of the nerves forming the sciatic nerve.

Jazz trainer Gary Briggs on Friday downplayed the nature of the injury, suggesting it is one quite common to both athletes and non-athletes.

It's being treated with anti-inflammatory medication, Briggs said.

Hart did not accompany the Jazz on their last trip, a one-gamer to Houston last weekend. But he decided to travel with the team on this one, even though he knew he wouldn't be able to play. "It's a tough injury," he said.

"You feel isolated from the team, because you're not with them," Hart added. "(So) I wanted to get on the road trip and come and get of this good spirit, some of this winning attitude."

The Jazz take a six-game winning streak into tonight's game against the Wizards.

Friday's morning shootaround marked the first time Hart has even tried to pass the ball since he was hurt during a win last Friday over Sacramento, one of his former teams.

He isn't sure when he will return, but doesn't expect his absence to be long-term.

"It shouldn't be a while ... (but) I'm just taking it slow," he said.

With Hart out, Utah Valley State product and usual No. 3 point Ronnie Price has been backing up starter Deron Williams.

"Somebody getting hurt is somebody else's opportunity," Hart said with reference to the sporadically used Price, who has scored 14 points in 23 minutes and shot 6-of-10 from the field in the three games that Hart's been out. "He's doing a great, and we're winning, so I'm just happy."

Hart said he has never before dealt with such an injury, which is akin to ones sustained previously by both Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko and center Mehmet Okur.

A bulging disc is what Okur cited when he opted not to play for his national team at the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan, a decision that proved to be quite controversial in his native Turkey.

Hart was hurt trying to block a shot by Kings guard Beno Udrih.

"I came kind of awkward and kind of strained it, and just triggered something," he said. "It's gonna go away, with ice and treatment."


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