Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Lance Stephenson will be activated tonight against the San Antonio Spurs after missing 14 games with a pelvic sprain.
But don’t expect Stephenson to play many minutes tonight. Coach Steve Clifford said Stephenson needs to regain game shape before that is viable.
“He’s not going to play a ton of minutes these first few games,” Clifford said at shootaround. “He did a good job with his rehab, but by the nature of that injury he was limited in how much cardio he could do.
“So just like Al last year, we’ll just play him as he can. He’s not ready for a lot of minutes.”
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The then-Bobcats lost center Al Jefferson to an ankle sprain early last season. His first two games back from that injury, Jefferson was limited to 25 minutes per game.
Stephenson anticipates playing off the bench, at least initially, and says he’s fine with that. The Hornets are on a five-game winning streak, and Stephenson said he doesn’t want to throw off the team’s current good rhythms.
In other Hornets developments:
-- Shooting guard Gary Neal will miss tonight’s game with a hamstring injury that has limited him for several games. Neal has struggled of late; he did not play against the New York Knicks Saturday and shot 5-of-25 in the three games prior to that.
Clifford said Neal’s early success this season – he was probably the Hornets’ best player in November – has drawn attention from defenses that Neal doesn’t usually encounter.
“People are so locked into him. – they’re treating him just like they treat Kemba” Walker, Clifford said. “Those are the two guys they are game-planning for. He’s being treated very much like a primary scorer.”
-- Backup point guard Brian Roberts will play tonight with a strained right elbow. He went through shootaround wearing a protective sleeve. The Hornets are already without third-string point guard Jannero Pargo, who has missed several games with a sore lower back.
-- Jefferson, who has missed the last six games with a groin strain, has started doing some on-court workouts. Prior to this Jefferson’s activity was limited to workouts in a swimming pool or the stationary bike.