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Steve Clifford: Al Jefferson will remain hobbled rest of season

Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, Brook Lopez

Charlotte Hornets’ Al Jefferson, center, loses the ball as he is trapped by Brooklyn Nets’ Brook Lopez, left, and Thaddeus Young, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, March 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


Al Jefferson heard a pop when injuring his calf/knee area, though an MRI showed no structural damage.

The Hornets center missed just one game, and he has played fine since, averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

But Charlotte has gone 1-5 in that span.

Can the Hornets get back on track? Don’t expect more from Jefferson.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

“Al is not going to be 100 percent here the rest of the year. He is just not,” Clifford said

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That’s pretty damaging news to the Hornets’ playoff chances.

They’re still just a half game outside postseason position, but so are the Pacers and Nets. It’s hard to see Charlotte emerging from the pack without a healthy Jefferson.

Bismack Biyombo can help, but this team was built to go through Jefferson in the post. The Hornets are capable of providing different looks, though that’s difficult with Cody Zeller also banged up.

Charlotte is limping to the finish line, and though that might be enough in the East, it probably won’t be – and it significantly reduces the Hornets’ already-low odds of making noise in the playoffs should they qualify.