SALT LAKE CITY — Raja Bell wasn't just limping slightly as he exited EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday night.
The veteran Jazz guard, who has a strained right adductor, was also smiling.
Though he missed the second half of the Jazz's down-to-the-wire 96-93 win over Sacramento because of an injury — and not one that almost kept him out of Friday's game — Bell was experiencing a sense of relief in relation to his situation.
Disappointed to miss the second half?
"Yeah, but no, because in the past, I haven't been able to identify them early enough, so it winds up becoming a real pull and then I got to miss three and four games," Bell said. "So, I'm excited that I caught it early and hopefully it won't cost me much."
The Jazz aren't practicing today, giving Bell time to rest prior to Monday's big Northwest Division showdown with visiting Portland.
Bell missed time on separate occasions — a total of four games — last season because of strained left and right adductors.
That's why he gingerly hobbled to the locker room in the second quarter and didn't return. "I just felt it. (My) legs were a little tired and I felt a pinch in my groin area," Bell said. "So before it came a major pull, I wanted to get off the court. That was it."
Bell has been experiencing soreness in his back and right knee, but he's played through those injuries.
HOLDING ON: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin shook his head in disbelief and relief at the end of Saturday's game.
Not because of Jimmer Fredette's 3-point attempt that could've won the game for the Kings. Rather, he couldn't believe second-year forward Gordon Hayward carelessly threw the ball to Earl Watson by the Sacramento bench in the final moments.
The ball harmlessly rolled away while time expired, but. ...
"Four seconds on the clock. Just hold it," Corbin said. "They're going to foul you. Don't jump in the air and throw it. If you throw it, throw it up so the clock can run out, but don't throw it toward the baseline and give them a chance to get another possession of the ball."
It worked like a charm, and Hayward sheepishly said he'll hold it next time.
"Just young," Corbin added. "That turned my stomach more than the Jimmer shot."
HE SAID IT: Jazz guard Earl Watson has high hopes for the Jazz, so he's hoping not to see many more of these close games against inferior opponents.
"As we get past the All-Star break, I think we'll be one of the most dominant teams in the NBA and that's our goal, to win by more. No one wants to win three-point games, but as long as we win them, that's all that counts."
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