The Charlotte Hornets’ postseason hopes may have died on Friday night. Not only did the Hornets get pummeled by the Indiana Pacers, but Al Jefferson sat out the second half with a troublesome right knee injury and might be shut down for the season, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
Jefferson played just 12 minutes in Charlotte’s 93-74 loss to Indiana, tallying just four points and one rebound. The big man has had fluid drained from his right knee three times in 10 days, but it hasn’t helped much.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said it’s “definitely” a possibility that Jefferson is shut down because the big man is just really laboring out on the court:
“He’s dragging his leg around and then you compensate,” opening yourself up to further injury, Clifford said. “The guy literally couldn’t pivot and turn. I don’t know if he’ll play again. It’s just not fair to him.”
The loss Friday dropped Charlotte to 32-43, two games behind the Miami Heat for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets are just 3-7 in their last 10 games, and losing their top post scorer in Jefferson won’t help a team that struggles to score to begin with. He’s averaging 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 48.1 percent from the field on the season.
To make matters worse, Cody Zeller is still dealing with a shoulder injury. If Jefferson truly is done and Zeller remains out, that means the bulk of the frontcourt minutes will go to the likes of Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Jason Maxiell and rookie Noah Vonleh. That’s not exactly an imposing set of players.