After missing five regular season games and the majority of the preseason because of ankle injuries, center Al Jefferson will return to the court and start for the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks, according to the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell.
"Al is going to start tonight. I don't know how many minutes he'll play, but he feels good," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said at morning shootaround. "He didn't have any soreness from practice yesterday, and he feels good. We'll start him and integrate him into our play as best we can."
Jefferson first sprained his ankle in the Bobcats' second preseason game against the Miami Heat. After sitting out the rest of the preseason, he played 30 minutes in the Oct. 30 season opener against the Houston Rockets but suffered what was later diagnosed as a bone bruise. He's missed the last five games for the 3-3 Bobcats.
The center, who signed with Charlotte as a free agent this offseason, told Bonnell that his ankle still has pain but he doesn't run with a limp after going through rehab. Clifford added that Jefferson will only play so long as he looks fresh, and the team will be careful to make sure the center is limited until he's back into game shape.
Clifford is also making a return to the sidelines Monday after being admitted to the hospital Thursday with chest pain. He needed two stents placed in his heart but was back at Sunday practice in anticipation of coaching against the Hawks, reports Bonnell.