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NBA Charlotte Hornets

Al Jefferson Shows He Can Lead in Kemba Walker’s Absence With Dominating Performance

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Al Jefferson entered the Charlotte Bobcats‘ franchise with high expectations headed his way, and all of those had to be fulfilled if he wanted to live up to his fat contract.

With a bumpy start to begin (sat several games out nursing a nagging ankle injury), fans are finally coming around on the 29-year-old center. Tonight was possibly his best performance as a member of the hopeful playoff team.

As Kemba Walker will be sidelined for the next 10-14 days, it was widely known that someone had to step up their game big time. Losing a humongous contributor like Walker and having nobody else excel to be a better player in the time of absence would prove nothing. Jefferson answered the call tonight and played some of the best ball he is capable of.

In just one quarter of play against the Toronto Raptors Monday afternoon, Jefferson compiled a double-double. His strong first quarter shed light on his performance the rest of the contest as the former Utah Jazz big man posted an unbelievable stat line of 22 points (9-of-18 shooting), 19 rebounds and a surprising seven assists.

This was nearly “Big Al’s” second 20-20 game this season (one rebound shy) and his third consecutive game of over 20 points and 14 rebounds. These last three games have shown Charlotte how much of a force Jefferson can be and the exact reason why Michael Jordan decided to give him a huge contract. He can go out there and be one of the main reason a team wins ball games.

Without the highly-balanced big man (despite some defensive struggles) today, the Cats probably would not have rose to victory! His ability to do all the tricks of the trade (pass, rebound, score) proved that he can lead the Bobcats to a successful run even without their star point guard by his side

With Walker still out for most likely the next two weeks, watch for Jefferson to play some of his best basketball so far this year. If Charlotte wants to stay in the playoff picture over the next 10-14 days, he will need to play more like this on a nightly basis. What a phenomenal three-game span for the nine-year veteran.

Daniel Carney covers the Charlotte Bobcats for rantsports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_jcarney, subscribe to him on YouTube where he talks sports, and add him on Google+.