HOUSTON — Small forward Andrei Kirilenko only recently shed his. Now another Jazz starter is wearing a walking boot.

It's center Mehmet Okur, who exited Wednesday's loss at Houston in the third quarter with what the team is calling "tendinitis" in his left Achilles tendon.

"I started to feel it the last three days, and today it got worse," Okur said afterward, his foot and ankle wrapped and in a medical boot. "A lot worse, especially the second half."

Asked if he had any idea how bad the injury may be, the report from Okur — who had nine points on 4-for-9 field shooting and five rebounds in 23 minutes against the Rockets — didn't sound encouraging.

"It's pretty much sore," he said. "When I try to run and change speed, whatever, try to stop, I feel, like, sharp pain and kind of a little sore."

The Jazz are calling him a "game-time decision" for Friday's visit with New Orleans.

Asked about Friday and beyond, Okur seemed decidedly uncertain and suggested he'd have a better feel only after receiving treatment today.

Meanwhile, Kirilenko sat out — as expected — on Wednesday.

He missed his sixth straight game and 12th in Utah's last 14 with a strained left calf, and remains "doubtful" for Friday.

FESENKO WOES: He didn't play Wednesday, remaining instead at the Jazz's team hotel with a sore throat and a migraine headache.

He didn't play in Tuesday's win over Oklahoma City, either, with a sore throat cited then, too.

Backup center Kyrylo Fesenko also has missed four games this season because of two separate stomach viruses, making it six games lost to illness.

Jerry Sloan doesn't know what to make of it.

"I'm not much of a doctor," the Jazz coach said Wednesday, "but he does get sick a lot."

Sloan did acknowledge that Fesenko, in his third NBA season, is living far from his homeland in Ukraine.

"Sometimes you have to give the benefit of the doubt on that," he said.

Yet Sloan did suggest he wishes Fesenko, who's not a rotation regular, was more dependable.

"A couple of opportunities he would have gotten — but he was sick, or didn't feel well," said Sloan, who played sparingly used reserve big man Kosta Koufos 13 minutes Wednesday.

"We try to get (Fesenko) to understand he's got a terrific amount of talent. But a lot of guys have talent, and you've got to be ready to take advantage of it when you get the opportunity.

"And he's had some pretty good moments," Sloan added. "But I hate to put a lot of emphasis on having him play, because you never know when he's gonna be able to be here."

OLD DAYS: Even one day before Wednesday's game, some with the Jazz expressed concern about a back-to-back set that had them traveling from chilly Salt Lake City to Houston.

"I don't know why (the NBA) always schedules that for us," point guard Deron 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."

By the time the Jazz got de-iced Tuesday night, finished the 1,200-plus mile flight and finally made it to their Houston hotel Wednesday, it was almost 4 a.m. local time.

Sloan, however, wasn't feeling anyone's pain.

"This is a long trip — when they didn't have charters," he said.

"When you get off the place at Metropolitan, or whatever the name of the airport (is) out there," he added with reference to Houston's 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. Because you still have a lot of time to get ready."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com