DENVER — It certainly wasn't the return Raja Bell envisioned.
But it was still good for the 34-year-old shooting guard to be back — on the court with the Utah Jazz and just on the court, period.
Wednesday's game at Pepsi Center was not only Bell's first in a Jazz uniform since 2005, but it was also the first real game he's played in almost an entire calendar year.
After being traded from Charlotte last fall, Bell injured his left wrist in his Golden State debut on Nov. 18, 2009. He hadn't played since, until Wednesday. He had surgery last December and didn't play again in the 2009-10 season.
"Personally, it was a great feeling," the Jazz's starting shooting guard said. "Going out there for a jump ball, actually getting to mix it up a little bit, being back on the court in a game that meant something was big for me.
"I didn't know if I was going to get that chance again, but I was excited."
Bell felt the opposite about the result, a 110-88 shellacking setback to the Denver Nuggets.
Bell, an 11-year veteran who re-signed with Utah in July after flirting with the Los Angeles Lakers, was one of four Jazz players to score in double digits. He totaled a dozen points in 29 minutes, though it came on 3-for-8 shooting and 1-for-4 from 3-point land.
Before Bell scored his first points in this Utah stint — a pair of free throws midway through the first quarter — the Jazz were already down by nine points.
"You leave here with a sour taste in your mouth," said Bell, who also had a pair of assists and rebounds. "But as a pro, you've been around a bit. You understand you play (again tonight) so you kind of got to let that go."
The quick turnaround game will be a thrill for Bell on multiple levels. It'll be his first game at EnergySolutions Arena as a home player since he left for Phoenix five years ago, and it comes against those old Suns of his.
"I'm excited about that," Bell said. "Hopefully the fans, they're good fans, so they'll be there to support us, I'm sure. It's a late (TNT) game against one of my old teams. I always like to play them so hopefully it will be a good one."
Bell's left shoulder, bothered recently by bursitis, was wrapped in ice after Wednesday's loss, but he said his rotator cuff "felt good."
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