Chicago • Al Jefferson cut the multi-layered tape job off his ankle and tossed it aside.
"It’s a lot of tape man," Jefferson said. "It feels like a cast."
But if that’s what it takes — and for Friday’s game against the Bulls at the United Center — Jefferson will happily endure a lengthy taping process to play his first game in nine days since spraining his ankle in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Jefferson is used to heavy tape jobs. In Minnesota he had ankle problems and said he "used to get the famous Karl Malone tape job ... Tape to the leg."
After going through a full practice on Thursday at the Moody Bible Institute, as well as Friday’s shoot around, Jefferson is listed as a game-time decision, but all signs point to him playing.
Jefferson’s likely return, two days after Mo Williams played his first game in two and a half months, would mean the Jazz would have their full roster available for the first time since Dec. 22, when Williams tore ligaments in his thumb against Miami.
"It would be great, it would be great to have all the guys back and get everybody on the floor and see where we are and as we continue to grow and build back used to each other," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It would be great to have all your assets that you thought you’d have at the beginning of the year."
It’s been a long time coming.
The Jazz weathered the 32-game stretch without Williams, finishing 18-14. They lost Wednesday in Cleveland after Williams’ layup in the final seconds rimmed out.
"We’ve had some guys step up and play some great basketball for us," Corbin said.
Alec Burks has seen an increased role, and Gordon Hayward has played the best basketball of his three-year career since the All-Star Break.
Getting Jefferson back should be a boost to the Jazz. He leads the team with 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds. He said he made a couple of moves in practice on Thursday that tweaked the ankle, but that they weren’t enough to deter him from playing.
"Paul, who just came off an ankle injury, said the same thing for the first couple of games," Jefferson said, "but soon it’s going to go away. But as long as it’s not keeping me from jumping and moving and cutting, I generally can tolerate pain."
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