DALLAS -- The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have
overcome injuries all season. So it's no surprise they're both
scrambling to change their lineups after losing starters in Game 1
of the Western Conference finals.
Phoenix guard Raja Bell will miss at least Game 2 on Friday
night because of a calf injury that could be severe. Dallas forward
Josh Howard has a bone bruise on his left ankle and coach Avery
Johnson said it would be a game-time decision on whether the
versatile scorer and defender will be available.
'There's some soreness there," Johnson said following a
workout Howard missed. "We'll see if he can be much improved
Phoenix's Shawn Marion said his twisted left ankle was sore
Thursday, but that he'll definitely play Game 2 Friday night.
"It's hurting, but I'm going to be good," said Marion, who
hurt the same ankle in the second round. "It's better than I
The Suns lead the series 1-0 after a 121-118 victory Wednesday
"Hopefully it's something that's just really tight today and it'll start loosening up for me in the next day or so."
Bell said he felt something pop in his leg, dropping him to the
court with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter. He was helped off the
court and later felt it stiffen. While teammates practiced
Thursday, Bell was on his stomach having his calf treated by a
"It was pretty scary," he said. "I'm optimistic. Hopefully
it's something that's just really tight today and it'll start
loosening up for me in the next day or so."
Bell said he was told he could miss a week, but doesn't expect
it. However, the extent of the injury isn't known.
The team opted not to take an MRI because it wouldn't change how
he was treated, coach Mike D'Antoni said.
"There's no way he can [play] tomorrow," D'Antoni said.
"After that, it's day-to-day and we'll have to see."
D'Antoni said Leandro Barbosa will start in Bell's place, with
Eddie House and possibly James Jones getting added minutes, too.
Phoenix already has won once this postseason with Barbosa replacing
Bell -- Game 6 of the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers
when Bell was suspended for a hard foul on Kobe Bryant.
"I think we'll be fine," said Bell, who left the arena on
crutches. "We've had to do it so many times this year that nothing
needs to be said. Plus, I don't see myself as a guy the team can't
Howard was hurt six minutes into the game and didn't return. His
injury initially was ruled a sprain, but changed to a bruise
following an MRI early Thursday.
He scored six points in six minutes and was expected to guard
Marion and possibly Nash. He's averaged 15.5 points and six
rebounds per game in the playoffs, only slightly below his
Dallas won all 21 games this season when he scores at least 20
points. The Mavs also were 16-7 in games that he missed.
Johnson was coy about how he'd replace Howard in the lineup.
Adrian Griffin and Keith Van Horn both saw extended action in Game
1, both filling in for Howard and taking over at center in a small
"We'll figure out who we start and how we want to attack,"
While Johnson dismissed questions about Bell's absence, D'Antoni
kind of liked the idea of Howard being hurt.
"That helps," he said. "If [Dirk] Nowitzki would get sick,
that'd be even better."