PHOENIX -- Though understandably sore yesterday, Raja Bell was confident he would be ready to play when the Phoenix Suns meet the Dallas Mavericks tonight in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
Bell made a surprise start Tuesday night after missing two games with a slight tear in his left calf muscle. His presence injected the Suns with an emotional intensity that led to a 106-86 romp that evened the series at two games apiece.
``It's pretty sore and it's a little stiff," Bell said after practice yesterday. ``But it still feels better than it did the first couple of days when it was injured, so that's a positive sign for me that it should feel a lot better [tonight]."
He said he just took a few stationary shots in practice and planned to work out in the pool before the team left for Dallas.
As intent as he was on playing, Bell thought he would only spell Leandro Barbosa for a few minutes. Instead, Mike D'Antoni put Bell in the starting lineup, and he played 31 minutes.
``It was at Mike's discretion to use me as he felt fit," Bell said. ``He felt I could handle those minutes, and I respect his judgment and the training staff's. I didn't think I'd play 31 minutes, but I feel pretty good having done it."
While teammates talked of how Bell's mere presence is crucial, he downplayed the notion he brings the Suns their swagger.
``I don't know," Bell said. ``I've heard a lot of people make a lot about that, but this team, with or without me, is a really good team. We have a swagger about us, we just didn't play with it in Game 3. But I was glad to be back, and I was glad to be a part of us regaining our swagger."
Bell's impact went beyond inspiration. With him in the lineup alongside Steve Nash and Barbosa, the Suns were able to spread the court. That helped Barbosa to a team-high 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting.
A Phoenix Suns fan has accused the wife of Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson of assaulting her in the stands during Game 4 Tuesday night.
Rebecca Kettle told police Cassandra Johnson hit her twice in the shoulder during a verbal confrontation. According to a police report, an officer read Johnson her rights before questioning her. Johnson acknowledged she got into an argument with Kettle but denied making physical contact .
Phoenix police said the matter would be turned over to the prosecutor to determine if any misdemeanor charge should be filed.