Utah Jazz: Raja Bell rejoins team but won't play tonight; Devin Harris will be game-time decision
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Raja Bell definitely won't play tonight against his old team, and it's still uncertain whether Utah Jazz starting point guard Devin Harris will be able to go against the Phoenix Suns.
Harris sat out the second half of the Jazz's 102-97 victory at Portland on Monday night after spraining his left ankle, and he's a game-time decision for this important game.
Harris didn't test his ankle at full speed or try to cut too much on it during this morning's shootaround, and he said he's feeling "a little sore" after the light workout.
Coach Tyrone Corbin said Earl Watson will likely start against Steve Nash if Harris is unable to play. Jamaal Tinsley is also expected to see time tonight.
"It'll be up to (Harris) to gauge where he's at," Corbin said.
"If I do sit out I know I've got two guys who definitely can fill the void and get us a much-needed win," Harris said. "If I can play, I want to play. That's the main thing, especially how close we are and how much these games mean."
The Jazz (28-26) are one full game behind Houston (29-25) for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But the Suns (27-26) are just a half-game behind Utah and have been playing well.
As for Bell, he rejoined the team after spending the past several days in Miami where he received a third opinion on his ailing left knee. The 35-year-old shooting guard is out indefinitely after receiving a Hyalgan injection in his knee Monday.
"It feels really junky right now," Bell said, "but I'm assuming it went well. The doc thought it did pretty good."
Bell was told the combination the medicated lubricant — which might require a series of injections — and rest should help him avoid getting microfracture surgery to repair a lesion in his knee. His MRI also revealed a bone bruise.
Bell hopes to return to play, but he can't have any physical activity — running, jumping, shooting — that puts any "banging pressure" on his knee for two weeks. To keep in shape, the guard can do the elliptical and ride a stationary bike.
"That's the hurdle I'll have to tackle first, getting back in shape and being able to go out there and produce is the next hurdle," Bell said. "So if I can do that, I'd love to play and help in any way I can."
Today was the first time Bell has been around the team since staying behind in Atlanta when the Jazz traveled north to New Jersey. Bell then went to Miami to get an additional medical opinion. He also had a Charlotte-based doctor review his MRI results.
Added Bell: "It's good to be back."
Bell believes the Jazz are better prepared to play the Suns tonight than they were in the 120-111 blowout loss in Phoenix on March 14. Having faced Nash & Co. once gives Utah a better feel for what it's like to be stretched out on defense.
Corbin said the Jazz need better "focus" to begin tonight's game after allowing the Clippers and Blazers to score 38 and 35 first-quarter points, respectively.
"They want to get out early. They want to try and score a lot of points and shoot a lot of jumps shots," said Corbin of the Suns, who hit nine 3-pointers vs. Utah in the last meeting. "We've got to make sure we control the tempo of the game and come out with a mindset of ... getting stops early."
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