Veteran guard Raja Bell spent the past two weeks riding his hottest shooting streak since re-signing with the Jazz in July 2010.
So, of course, he’s now dealing with a nagging injury.
After straining his left adductor Sunday during the fourth quarter of a road loss to Houston, Bell was inactive Monday for Utah’s 106-102 loss to San Antonio.
The 12-year veteran was officially a game-time decision. But he showed up at EnergySolutions Arena about 1.5 hours before tipoff in street clothes. And minutes before Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin left open the idea of putting Bell on the court, Utah’s starting shooting guard shut himself down.
Josh Howard was promoted to the starting lineup in Bell’s place. With Howard playing small forward, Gordon Hayward slid down to the 2.
“I’ll always play if I can go,” Bell said. “But if I’m injured and there’s pain, it’s not worth risking it.”
Risk will play a key factor in whether Bell suits up Wednesday for a road contest against Minnesota, or uses the Jazz’s four-day All-Star break to allow his injury to fully heal. It’s Bell’s second strained adductor this season — he suffered a right groin pull that forced him to miss three games from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 — and he knows that every time he feels a pinch, he’s likely out at least 3-4 days.
Bell planned to speak with Utah’s trainers about the best possible way to address his injury during the coming week, while Corbin acknowledged the Jazz might be better off shutting Bell down until a Feb. 28 road contest against Sacramento to prevent further injury.
“That’s certainly a conversation we need to have. … If you tear that thing, it’s tough,” Corbin said.
Howard heats up
Howard played one of his best games of the season, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. Howard started in place of Bell and played 29 minutes — his longest stretch in 11 games. He made four of his eight shots after going 6-for-28 in the previous six games.
“He did a good job,” said Corbin. “He just went out and played. He made some great plays. He made some shots. He drove to the basket a few times. He got a good rhythm going. It was good to see.”
Said Howard: “The shots were falling for me tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”
Howard’s seven rebounds tied his season high and helped trigger a 13-0 run by the Jazz in the opening minutes of the second half.
“It was great for us,” Corbin said. “He did good job of going inside, being big and going after the ball.”
Said Howard: “That’s something I pride myself in doing [when] I get the opportunity to play. ... Confidence is the big thing.” Steve Luhm contributed to this report.