The Charlotte Hornets could be without point guard Kemba Walker for Saturday’s home game against the Indiana Pacers.
Meanwhile, center Al Jefferson said he could play again as soon as Wednesday against the Miami Heat.
Walker missed practice Friday with soreness in his left knee. The team says the source of the soreness is a cyst, which Walker has had since high school.
“It flares up every once in a while, but right now it’s hurting me more than usual,” said Walker, who Monday was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
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In four games last week Walker led the NBA in scoring at 30.3 points per game. With him as the centerpiece, the Hornets have gone 5-3 in games since Jefferson was sidelined by a groin strain.
“You knew Kemba had that in him,” Jefferson said Friday.
“When I went out, I went to him and told him, ‘Now it’s time to put this team on your back.’ It’s great to watch, but I’m not surprised. That’s the type of player, the type of leader, he is.
“He’s not afraid to be the man. That’s part of the reason I came here.”
Jefferson last played Dec. 29 in a home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He originally suffered the injury Dec. 20 against the Utah Jazz, and played four more games before the team shut him down.
The original timetable was Jefferson missing about a month, so he’s slightly ahead of schedule. Jefferson has been cleared for all activity except contact in practice.
“If everything continues to go well I’ll be ready to play by Wednesday; if nothing goes wrong as far as my groin and how it’s feeling,” Jefferson said. “Even though it’s been two weeks, it felt like two months.”
Jefferson acknowledged it probably wasn’t wise for him to try to play through this injury.
“Looking back, I should have sat down after the Utah game. But you know me, I’m stubborn about playing,” Jefferson said. “In that Milwaukee game it just wasn’t the same for me: I couldn’t really move, I had no lift. I kind of pulled something and I could tell I was hurting myself and my teammates.”
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said if Walker misses the Pacers’ game Saturday, Brian Roberts would start at point guard. Third-string point guard Jannero Pargo is out with a sore lower back. Clifford said he could use either of two shooting guards – Gary Neal or Lance Stephenson – as the back-up point guard.
Shooting guard Gerald Henderson also missed practice Friday with an upper respiratory infection.