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Hawks vs Bobcats: Al Jefferson back in Charlotte's starting lineup

The Atlanta Hawks will have to contend with Al Jefferson tonight as the Bobcats' center will return to the starting lineup tonight after missing five games with an ankle injury.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Al Jefferson will return to the starting lineup for tonight's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks but how long he plays will depend on him according to his head coach Steve Clifford.

"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."

"He and I have already talked about this - he's going to play his minutes when he's fresh," Clifford said. "Now he's had a longer time without playing. So the conditioning part I have to be smarter with."

The Hawks have played at a relatively high pace to start the season and much faster than the Bobcats so far. Jefferson may have a tougher time if Atlanta can speed the game up. Jefferson has averaged 15 points and 8.2 rebounds in 20 career games against Atlanta.

Another interesting note that is Bobcats related is the status of Ben Gordon who has appeared in just one game this season. Gordon is healthy but is out of the rotation as Clifford is primarily using a three-wing rotation that features Jeff Taylor off the bench.