Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson hurt his left foot late in the first quarter of the 99-88 Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat. Jefferson gutted it out, but he was clearly not himself on the court, and the Heat took advantage. Per the Miami Herald:
Bobcats center Al Jefferson made his first four shots in Game 1 on Sunday before aggravating a plantar fascia strain to his left foot late in the first quarter, forcing him to the locker room briefly.
“I heard something pop,” he said.
After he returned, Jefferson moved gingerly at times, missed eight of his 13 shots the rest of the game and scored just four of his 18 points in the second half.
“I missed a couple of shots I normally make because I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on it,” Jefferson said. “It was an uncomfortable feeling.”
Jefferson, who had 10 rebounds, received pain-killing shots when he sustained the injury and again at halftime.
“When it happened, it was a lot of pain,” he said. “As the game went on, it eased up. I’ve got to suck it up. I’ll be fine for the remainder of the playoffs. I don’t know all of the details, but I know I’ll be OK. Just something you’ve got to play through.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made Jefferson move around more by replacing Udonis Haslem with James Jones 4:09 into the third quarter, forcing Jefferson to chase Chris Bosh to the three-point line and allowing the Heat to spread the floor.
“You could tell [Jefferson] was out there playing on one leg,” Bosh said. “Once we saw that, we wanted to go at him.”
“He wasn’t close to himself” after the injury, Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford said. “I don’t know if there is one team in the league that is more dependent on one guy than how we are dependent on him. So much of his game is his quickness and pivoting. It changes his post moves. You could see it slow down his game, but he fought hard.”