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Utah Jazz stay silent on Bell's absence vs. Bulls

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 11:19 p.m. MST

CHICAGO — The Utah Jazz played without starters Raja Bell and Devin Harris in a 111-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

Harris was sidelined because of stomach flu.

The Jazz wouldn't reveal why Bell missed, however, citing an unspecified "internal matter" for his absence.

Coach Tyrone Corbin gave very few details about Bell's situation. The usual starting guard did not fly with the team from Philadelphia to Chicago and didn't attend the Jazz's morning gameday meeting.

"He's not with us. Internal matters," Corbin said. "That's all I want to say about it."

When asked if it's a one-game deal with Bell, Corbin answered, "Tonight? Yeah." Asked if the veteran will be back with the team and available to play at home Monday against Detroit, he replied, "Yeah, I hope so."

Corbin wouldn't say if the internal issue was ongoing or out of the blue, and he doesn't think it will be a locker room distraction.

Before Saturday's game, Al Jefferson and Earl Watson said they hadn't talked to Bell and weren't aware of an internal matter.

"I think anytime something like that happens it's obviously personal," Watson said, adding that he hadn't talked to Bell. "Whatever's going on, I just the wish best for him. I hope it all works itself out."

Added Jefferson: "I don't think nothing bad happened or nothing like that."

After about 10 pregame questions about Bell, Corbin finally said, "I don't want to talk about it anymore."

Bell played just under 18 minutes in Utah's 104-91 loss at Philadelphia on Friday, scoring two points on 1-for-5 shooting.

Bell had started in three straight after missing six consecutive contests due to a groin injury (strained left adductor). Bell only scored eight points combined on 4-for-12 shooting in those three road games, including two wins.

Asked Friday if he felt like the rust had been knocked off from the inactivity from that injury absence, Bell responded: "Look, man, I feel fine. My leg feels fine. I just need opportunities, that's it bro."

Bell also voiced his support of rookie Alec Burks, who played the final 10 minutes of the game while he sat on the bench.

"I was hoping that Alec did a good job on (Evan Turner)," Bell said.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor and Bell's agent could not be reached for comment on clarification on the internal matter.

Bell has averaged about 19 minutes in the three games back from his latest adductor issue.

The 35-year-old veteran has one year after this one remaining on his contract with the Jazz. He is averaging 7.1 points and 1.2 assists, although he has emphasized repeatedly this season that his primary responsibility is being defensive nuisance to opposing shooting guards.

The NBA trade deadline is March 15, leading to some speculation that a deal could be impending. But "internal matter" could mean a wide variety of things, and the Jazz public relations staff would not divulge any details.

It's worth noting that Jamaal Tinsley's one-game absence last month was due to "personal reasons," according to the Jazz.

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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