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Bobcats center Al Jefferson says return for opener ‘very realistic’

Six days removed from a scary fall, Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson said his sprained ankle has improved enough that it’s “very realistic’’ he’ll play in the season opener Oct. 30.

“I’m taking it day-by-day, but that’s my goal,” Jefferson said of playing against the Rockets in Houston opening night. “My ankle is healing really fast. Two days ago I was on crutches and now I’m in my regular shoes. I heal fast.

“The doctor made it clear it’s just a low ankle sprain. It’s very realistic (to play in the opener). If it were up to me, I’d be (out) another week, but I understand they want to take it really slow.”

Jefferson suffered a right ankle sprain in Kansas City Friday while contesting a shot by Miami Heat center Chris Bosh. He landed on Bosh’s foot, hit the floor hard, and appeared to be in considerable pain. There was initial concern he might have fractured his ankle, but X-rays were negative.

“I sprained (that) ankle really bad in 2005, same ankle I had surgery on in 2006. I knew that’s what it was, I sprained it pretty bad, as bad as any since 2005,” Jefferson said at practice Wednesday. “I was thinking, ‘Here we go again.’ But better now than later on in the season.”

Jefferson was the Bobcats’ major free-agent acquisition of the off-season, bringing low-post scoring the franchise has not previously had. Having to sit out further complicates assimilating Jefferson’s game into the Bobcats’ mix.

“It’s always tough when you can’t get out and play, especially when you’re still getting used to” new teammates, Jefferson said. “But it’s part of the game. I came down on (Bosh’s) foot and no matter how you prepare things happen like that sometimes.

“I’m still participating in shootaround and practice when he (coach Steve Clifford) is putting stuff in. Still watching film, still fitting in as best I can without being there. There are still a lot of things I can do besides feeling sorry for myself.”

Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129 Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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