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Lopez seeking second opinion

2/23/2005 - Raul Lopez Utah Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY – A left knee injury could spell the end of
the season for the Jazz's starting point guard, Raul Lopez.

An irritation in his left knee forced Lopez to the bench during
a loss last week to the Lakers. It grew worse over the All-Star
break.

Lopez is getting a second opinion and was scheduled to undergo
an MRI, Jazz spokesman Kim Turner said Wednesday.

Turner said he didn't know what caused the injury, saying it
wasn't a cartilage injury.

"It's an odd problem," he said, "something he's probably
going to have to have surgery for."

If surgery is required, a decision that should be made by week's
end, Lopez will be lost for the season.

Lopez "was devastated when I talked to him," said Jazz coach
Jerry Sloan. "I feel very, very bad for him."

If he misses the remainder of this season, it will mean the
24-year-old Spaniard will have missed 133 games by the time his
third NBA season ends, and played in only 113.

Lopez sat out the entire 2002-03 season after twice rupturing
the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, then spent the
first 21 games of this season recovering from arthroscopic surgery
on the same knee.

"This is his fourth surgery, so we have to see exactly what
we're talking about," said Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice
president of basketball operations. "I'm afraid that sooner or
later, he has to say, I'm spending 75 percent of my career on
rehab.'''

The only good news, O'Connor said, is that Lopez's ligaments are
apparently intact, so this surgery might not be as serious as the
ligament-replacement procedures he had for the right knee.