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Hornets' Al Jefferson cleared to play, begins 5-game suspension Wednesday

Thursday, December 17, 2015 9:25:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

The Charlotte Hornets have been one of the fun stories during the first six weeks of the season. They've been one of the best defenses and their newfound offense has been explosive most nights. They've been able to keep this going even though their big man Al Jefferson has missed the last six games with a calf strain.

They'll have to keep it going once he's healthy to return from injury because Jefferson was recently suspended five games for violating the drug policy in the NBA. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo, Jefferson has been cleared to play, which makes him an active player. Now that the injury is behind him, he can begin serving the suspension, which will start Wednesday night in Orlando.

During the six games Jefferson has missed, the Hornets have gone 4-2. If you count the game he got injured after playing almost seven minutes, that record is 5-2 in his absence. That's helped them get off to a 14-9 start, which is tied for fourth with Indiana and Miami in the Eastern Conference.

With Jefferson now serving the suspension, he'll miss games at Orlando, Toronto, Washington, Houston, and then at home against Boston. That could end up being a pretty tough stretch for Charlotte, but they should be fine. They've actually been much better without Jefferson on the floor than with him. They're a plus-1.9 points per 100 possessions with him playing, and a plus-8.3 per 100 possessions when he's not on the floor.

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