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Al Jefferson helped off court after spraining ankle during exhibition game

The Bobcats big guy sprained his right ankle during the third quarter and couldn't leave the court under his own power.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Bobcats' brand new star center Al Jefferson injured his leg during the exhibition game against the Miami Heat Friday night. He had to be helped off the court to the locker room, reports said. Miami Heat beat writer Ira Winderman said it looked like a knee injury. UPDATE: The Bobcats say Jefferson sprained his right ankle and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Jefferson finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds before suffering the injury.

Jefferson's role as the new centerpiece of the Bobcats' offense is key to their upcoming season, and a significant injury to him could devastate the team's scoring punch and depth in the frontcourt, further escalated because of a long-term injury to bench center Brendan Haywood.

Jefferson had been quite consistently healthy in recent years, missing a total of 14 games in the past four seasons.