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Status of injured starters Howard, Bell uncertain

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard and Phoenix
guard Raja Bell both left the Western Conference finals opener with
injuries Wednesday night.

Howard sprained his right ankle midway through the first quarter
of the Suns' 121-118 victory. X-rays taken during the game showed no break. The team said Thursday that an MRI revealed a right ankle bone bruise and he is day-to-day.

Bell sustained a left calf injury with 5:27 left in the game. He
didn't put any weight on his leg when he was helped off the court
by teammates. He had eight points in 36 minutes.

"It's pretty painful right now. I never experienced something
like that," Bell said after the game. "I thought someone threw
something at me from the stands. But then it started to burn, and
right now, it's pretty sore."

Bell left the locker room on crutches but said he was optimistic
about playing in Game 2 on Friday night.

Howard walked off the court gingerly with 6:01 left in the first
quarter. He already had six points on 3-of-4 shooting.

Howard's versatility and defensive prowess make him potentially
a key figure this series. Plus, Dallas is 21-0 this season when he
scores at least 20 points, including twice in the playoffs.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.