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Charlotte Bobcats’ Al Jefferson: ‘I feel like I’m letting my teammates down’

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/11/16/18/15/ObIbB.Em.138.jpeg|409
    Elise Amendola - AP
    Boston Celtics small forward Gerald Wallace, top left, has his shot blocked going up against Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson, right, and guard Kemba Walker (15) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The Bobcats won 89-83. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/11/12/21/52/1kNXKn.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Streeter Lecka - GETTY
    In his first game back from injury, Al Jefferson finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists Monday against the Hawks.

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Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson put up some shots in practice Tuesday after getting a shot to treat his right ankle Sunday.

Hopefully both those things work toward getting him back into games, but that sounds doubtful for Wednesday night’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I think it would be unlikely he plays, but then hopefully he practices Thursday and plays Friday,” coach Steve Clifford said after practice. “He conditioned today but wasn’t able to do practice.”

Jefferson has missed the past three games – a victory at Cleveland, then losses to the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls – after feeling sudden pain in his right ankle after a flight from Boston to Cleveland last Thursday.

Jefferson said the pain relates to arthritis he has had in that ankle since he was 6. He got an anti-inflammatory injection Sunday then was held out of physical activity the next two days. He did not accompany the Bobcats to Chicago for the Bulls game.

“I feel a lot better than before I got the shot,” Jefferson said Tuesday. “It’s a bone bruise. I’ve had arthritis in this ankle since I was 6. When I got off the plane in Cleveland, that was what I was dealing with.”

Jefferson played against the Celtics in Boston last Wednesday, then practiced Thursday in Boston. He has played in three of the Bobcats’ 11 games this season, after injuring that ankle in the second exhibition of the preseason last month.

“It just came out of nowhere,” Jefferson said. “Woke up in Boston and it felt good, did some extra conditioning and it felt good, practiced and it felt good. We took off, went to Cleveland and when I put my shoes on (pain was severe). It got worse and worse.”

The Bobcats signed Jefferson to a 3-year, $41 million contract in July to be their primary low-post scorer. In his 10th NBA season, Jefferson has been quite durable, missing a total of 15 games over the previous four seasons.

Jefferson’s teammates have been gracious about his on-again/off-again availability. Jefferson feels bad about the predicament his injury has become.

“It’s very frustrating,” Jefferson said. “I’m going to miss more games this season than the last three because of this injury. I take pride in not missing games. But this ankle injury – one minute I’m thinking everything is good and the next I’m feeling bad again.

“I feel like I’m letting my teammates down. It’s not fair to them for me to be in and out of the lineup. They’ve got a good thing going. I’m really ready for it to be over with, but it’s part of the game.”

Even when Jefferson returns to health, Clifford knows there will be a conditioning issue.

“That’s the biggest problem. (For the opener) he had been out, but he practiced three days and did a ton of conditioning,” Clifford said. “Since then his being hurt has limited how much conditioning he can do.”

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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