Regardless, when McGrady left to welcome his second child, Laymen Lamar McGrady, to the world, he allowed the Jazz to share in his joy with an 82-74 victory.
Houston scored only 33 points in McGrady's absence, including just two points over the first 7 1/2 minutes of the fourth.
Now that's labor.
It wasn't much easier for the visitors, who entered the fourth quarter with a one-point lead, proceeded to misfire on an amazing 71 percent of their shots (including a pair of airballs), miss five free throws and commit three turnovers - yet somehow pull away.
It was the sort of victory so ugly, only a parent could love it. And make no mistake, the Jazz wrapped both arms around it and treasured the moment.
"Poor game and win better than good game and lose," summed up Andrei Kirilenko, who was abused by McGrady during his 21-point first-half cameo, made only two of 11 shots, and could not suppress a wide grin afterward. "I can see guys really tired because we had really intensive game yesterday, but we did not give up fight."
Right, though it was more of a tomato-can brawl than a championship bout. The Jazz hit only 34.8 percent from the field - and outshot the Rockets. They lurched to a 17-point second quarter, and still gained ground. They allowed 17 offensive rebounds, sent Houston to the line 26 times, and committed 17 turnovers.
And yes, won their second straight game.
Milt Palacio was poked in the eye making a steal in the final minute, and said he saw three baskets as he shot the free throws, while fighting off dizziness.
The Rockets, other than McGrady and Juwan Howard (19 points) shot like that all night. The second-worst shooting team in the league (yes, worse than the third-worst Jazz) made only 34.2 percent, lowest by any Jazz opponent all season.
Wow, what a fabulous defensive effort by the Jazz. Right, Jerry Sloan?
"I really don't see that," the coach shrugged. "They got on top of the basket. We couldn't keep people in front of us."
Good thing it didn't matter. The Rockets must have to change the Toyota Center backboards regularly to keep the dents from getting too big. Stromile Swift's 2-for-10 night, for example, included one layup attempt blocked by the bottom of the backboard, and a dunk he missed so badly, he didn't even hit the rim.
Deron Williams even gets to gloat about winning the showdown between former Illinois backcourt mates, because his 3-for-10 night (with no turnovers, at least) looks positively radiant next to Luther Head's 3-for-12, three-turnover outing.
The night's biggest development may have been Sloan admitting that yes, the injuries are unfair. It's not right to expect a guy to coach when the heart of the offense and the backbone of the defense are wearing street clothes.
Yep, Sloan finally feels sorry. For . . . Jeff Van Gundy?
"I just felt bad for the coach," Sloan said. "I know it has to be tough on Jeff, trying to win, doing everything he can to win a ballgame, [when] you wonder what's going to happen to you next, after having all your players hurt."
Granted, the Rockets were without McGrady, who had six points before the game was two minutes old, who had 14 points in the first quarter, and who collected 21 before being summoned to the hospital.
And yes, Houston is missing Yao Ming, out six weeks after toe surgery. Also, starting point guard Bob Sura, and and shooting guard Derek Anderson. Catch your breath, there's more: bench help Jon Barry is out, too, plus backcourt partner Rafer Alston.
"You can't feel sorry for them. We definitely can't feel sorry," Palacio said. "Those guys are trying to hold it together, kind of like we were when AK and Boozer went down."
Yeah, and Matt Harpring and Keith McLeod and Williams, too.
Anyway, the Jazz are pulling through, with the contributions of people like Jarron Collins, who tied his season-high with 15 points, and Mehmet Okur, who scored 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter and, for the second straight night, a decisive three-point jumper at the end.
With the Jazz holding on to their lead in the face of Houston's press, Okur ran the pick-and-roll with Williams, sprung free atop the circle, and nailed the trey with 1:25 to play, putting the Jazz's lead out of reach at 77-68.
"We couldn't guard T-Mac," Okur said of the strange game. "All of a sudden we remembered in second half how we should play."
Yeah - without McGrady.
IN SHORT - The Jazz's offensive ineptness mattered little when Tracy McGrady left to be present for his son's birth, leaving Houston virtually unable to score.
KEY STAT - Houston made 53 percent of its shots during McGrady's 14-point first quarter, but its shooting success in next three periods was 29, 25 and 32 percent.
KEY MOMENT - With Utah's lead at four and two minutes left, Andrei Kirilenko drives to the basket and, when he encounters Stromile Swift waiting for him, shovels a pass to Devin Brown for a layup.