Jazz notebook: Bell seeking another opinion on his ailing knee; return uncertain

Published: Monday, March 26 2012 10:48 p.m. MDT

Jazz guard Earl Watson, left, got in Monday's game early.

Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — For the second consecutive Eastern road trip, Raja Bell left the team early.

This time, however, it wasn't for disciplinary purposes.

While the Jazz traveled north from Atlanta for games against the Nets and Celtics, Bell stayed in the South. He'll head to his offseason home in Miami today to receive a third opinion on his left knee.

Results haven't been released about what his Charlotte-based doctor found after reviewing his MRI on Monday, but Jazz team orthopedist Dr. Lyle Mason found wear and tear on the 35-year-old's knee consistent with somebody who has been in the league for 12 years.

Bell hopes to avoid having potential season-ending microfracture surgery, and he's received the Jazz's permission to explore multiple medical options and opinions.

"He's going to get another opinion. We support him in whatever his decision is," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We want to do the best thing by him and he's trying to find out what's the best thing for him to do."

"When the opinion comes back," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said, "we'll proceed from there."

It's uncertain when Bell will rejoin the team, which is also without Josh Howard for the time being. The veteran small forward underwent a scope last Thursday on his injured knee. He's expected to be on crutches for a couple more days, and a medical update and possible timeline for return should be announced next week.

BACK IN ACTION: Earl Watson didn't hide his disappointment about losing his backup point guard position to Jamaal Tinsley in the week after he returned from another ankle injury.

Despite his declaration that he was good to go, Watson was relegated to the end of the bench for four games (all Did Not Play-Coach's Decision) after he underwent laser treatment on his sprained left ankle. He played a few minutes in Friday's blowout win over Denver, but he didn't see any action in the quadruple-overtime loss Sunday in Atlanta.

His time came again early Monday in New Jersey, as Corbin told him it would prior to tipoff.

It just came earlier than expected.

Just over four minutes into Utah's eventual 105-84 win, Watson replaced starting point guard Devin Harris.

"I didn't have a chance to think about it, it happened so quick when he called my name," Watson said. "I was surprised. I looked around. I was in shock."

Watson ended up playing 18 minutes in the win, the most he's played in over two weeks.

"I wanted to get him some run early and see how the things developed," Corbin said.

The second-year coach actually wanted to give Watson and Tinsley a good chunk of minutes against the Nets, but Harris played for almost 30 minutes, so that didn't happen.

"I feel very comfortable with both of those guys," Corbin added.

Watson said he got a bit winded, seeing how he hadn't played much since his March 15 injury. But he was smiling in the locker room.

"No better way to test my ankle than (against) any other player than D-Will," Watson said. "We won. That's all I care about."

Watson finished with two points, three assists, two rebounds, two steals and five turnovers.

NO BIG DEAL: Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor wasn't concerned about Watson's comment about how it was unfortunate his injury/role change came after the trade deadline.

"I think he gets upset when he doesn't get to play," O'Connor said, "and I understand that."

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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