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SUNS 106, MAVERICKS 86

Suns beat down on Mavericks

Rout knots Western final at 2 games apiece

PHOENIX -- Raja Bell is back, and so are the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals.

Bell supplied the grit with a surprise start despite a slightly torn calf muscle, and his teammates took care of the offense in a 106-86 rout of the Dallas Mavericks last night.

``Well, I guess we're not done yet," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Tied at two games apiece, the series returns to Dallas for Game 5 tomorrow night.

Leandro Barbosa, coming off a poor performance as a starter in place of Bell in the Suns' Game 3 loss, scored 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

Boris Diaw added 20 points, including a pair of emphatic fourth-quarter dunks that helped the Suns build a 25-point lead.

Steve Nash had 21 points and seven assists, and Shawn Marion scored 15 points.

Bell had missed the last two games with a slight tear in his left calf, and all indications had been that he would sit out this one, too.

``I've been to war all season with these guys," Bell told TNT at halftime. ``I wasn't going to watch tonight."

He had only 9 points but gave Phoenix some much-needed intensity in 32 minutes of play.

``Half our team is a bunch of quiet guys," Nash said. ``He gives us another guy that opens his mouth once in a while, gives us some toughness, some bravado. I can't say enough about how much his personality means to our team."

D'Antoni called Bell ``a team guy. He's never asked for anything. He's been a team guy. He just plays hard every night. And, you know, to be able to coach a guy like that is precious."

Dirk Nowitzki managed only 11 points for the Mavericks on 3-for-13 shooting, breaking a string of 42 games in which he's scored at least 20 points.

It was his lowest-scoring game all season and the first time he's scored fewer than 25 points in the Mavs' eight games against Phoenix this season.

``We turned the ball over way too many times, especially early," Nowitzki said, ``and we made mistakes all over the place."

Josh Howard led the Mavericks with 16 points but left with an apparent shin injury with 5:47 to play.

It was a rough night all the way around for Dallas.

Avery Johnson drew a technical foul early. His wife Cassandra got into a nose-to-nose argument with a fan, with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban coming to her defense. Security personnel escorted the fan away.

``You know, I can point to a lot of things that were very disgraceful about the game," Johnson said, ``but we lost."

He would not elaborate.

The Mavericks said Barbosa, rather than Bell, was the biggest factor.

``He was a tough little guy today, and we've got to make sure we handle him a lot better next time," Nowitzki said.

Phoenix never trailed after the first quarter. The Mavericks stayed close, despite the shooting woes of Nowitzki, until the Suns blew it open with a 20-4 outburst at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.

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