Raja Bell got one good game out of the calf muscle he tore in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in Dallas, helping the Suns win Game 4 with his emotional lift.
But his defensive mobility and offensive ability abandoned him in the last two games — he scored six points in Saturday’s 102-93 Game 6 loss, hitting a pair of 3-point jumpers in the final 30 seconds after the game was decided.
“My calf is what it is, but I’m not making any excuses,” Bell said. “I had some good looks and I missed some wide-open jump shots. That didn’t have anything to do with my calf.
“Until it heals, I won’t have my same elevation. The well wasn’t as wet as I want it to be.”
Bell said the injury probably would have kept him out three weeks during the regular season “but we didn’t have that luxury. I have all the time in the world to heal it now.”
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Back when Josh Howard and Steve Nash played one-on-one in Dallas practices three years ago, the results were pretty clear-cut.
“He won. I lost,” said Howard, a rookie that season. “He knew a little more tricks than I did. I had to learn what it takes.”
The lessons served Howard well in Game 6, when he was asked to cover Nash in the second half and held him without a field goal in 11 minutes of the third quarter. Nash scored his first basket of the second half with 5:56 remaining.
“It’s a difficult task. Steve is a great player, a two-time MVP,” said Howard, who finished with 20 points and a career playoff-high 15 rebounds. The two spoke on the court after the game.
“Like I told him, I appreciate everything he has done for me. Playing with me for one year, and me watching what he did,” Howard said.
Foul trouble limited Jason Terry to two minutes, 24 seconds of playing time in the first half, although he said the time off helped freshen his legs for all of his 17 points in the second half.
“At halftime, the worst was behind us,” Terry said. “When I got out there, I just wanted to leave it all on the floor.”
Terry also said it was the Mavericks’ game plan to run him through screen after screen when Nash was covering him to wear out Nash.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban said the NBA reviewed video of Shawn Marion’s alleged elbow against Adrian Griffin in Game 5 and “they just said it was incidental contact.
“We didn’t expect them to do anything,” Cuban said. “We wanted to put things in the back of their mind. It freaks them out.”
Among the signs of Game 6: “When was the last time you smoked a Cuban?” “Texas, Not Tonight” and “We’re not fishin’ yet.” . . .
This will be the first time in 28 years that each team in the NBA Finals will be attempting to win its first title. The last time it happened, Washington beat Seattle in 1978. It is also the first time since 1971 (Milwaukee and the Baltimore Bullets) that both teams are making their first Finals appearance. . . .
With 11 rebounds, Shawn Marion passed Alvan Adams for second on the Suns franchise’s all-time playoff rebounding list with 592. Charles Barkley (644) is No. 1. . . .
Nash (87) has played in more playoff games than any active player without reaching the NBA Finals. Nash is eighth on the NBA’s all-time list. . . .
Dallas’ 14 first-quarter points were its fewest of the postseason.