- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Michael Jordan’s Bobcats enter the post-NBA All-Star break with their playoff hopes largely riding on the old-school game of big man Al Jefferson.

Jefferson and his back-to-the-basket style of play has helped the Bobcats win more games than they did all of last season and position themselves for their first postseason appearance since 2010. Charlotte (23-30) is currently the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of the Detroit Pistons. The two teams will play Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jefferson is in the midst of one of the most productive seasons of his 10-year career, averaging 20.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

And he’s doing it his way.

Unlike the vast majority of big men in the league today who are focused on their perimeter game and running the floor, the 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson camps out in the low post, using his muscle, agility, size and basketball knowledge to methodically wear down opponents.

“I blame Dirk Nowitzki,” Jefferson said with a laugh when asked about the lack of NBA low-post scorers.

Maybe he should be thanking him.

Opponents say Jefferson’s unique style makes him difficult to defend because it’s not something you see on a nightly basis.

“He has a great jump hook and great pump fakes to get you off your feet,” said Spurs forward Boris Diaw. “When you play Al you have to change your reflexes and the way you defend. It’s not easy.”

Diaw should know.

Earlier this month Jefferson scored 10 quick points against Tim Duncan in the first 5 minutes, prompting Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call timeout and put Diaw on Jefferson because he was less apt to fall for pump fakes.

“His pump fakes are maybe the best in the league. They’re ridiculous,” Popovich said.

“Big Al” joined the league as the 15th overall pick by the Boston Celtics in 2004 out of tiny Prentiss (Miss.) High School.

“When I first arrived I remember teams having a big four and a big five, kind of like the David Robinson-Tim Duncan era. Slowly the league started changing,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson never did.

Story Continues →