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Bobcats' Jackson is ailing but ready

Stephen Jackson turned 32 Monday. He's been feeling about twice that age recently.

Jackson, the Charlotte Bobcats' leading scorer who's nursing a long list of injuries, plans on playing tonight against the Atlanta Hawks at Time Warner Cable Arena. But it will likely be a chore for Jackson.

"I feel like I'm older than that," Jackson said Monday of those 32 years.

As the Bobcats (40-36) push toward their first playoff berth in franchise history, Jackson is dealing with a strained hamstring, a turned ankle and a sore hand and elbow. He pulled himself from the game in the fourth quarter of Charlotte's loss Saturday in Chicago.

"It's something I have to get through," said Jackson after sitting out practice Monday.

Jackson said he paid a huge physical price in the Bobcats' overtime victory against Milwaukee the night before, when he played 41 minutes.

"Milwaukee took so much out of me," said Jackson. "I just didn't have any gas left for Chicago. I couldn't even break a sweat, I was in so much pain."

The call on whether Jackson plays tonight will go to coach Larry Brown, who knows Jackson wants to play, even if it might not be in his best interests.

"He cares a lot," said Brown. "He knows, in his mind, that our best chance of winning is with him in there. He's too important. But they all are. I don't want to play somebody who's not physically able to play as well as he's capable. I don't think that's fair."

Pain, though, is something Jackson seems prepared to deal with.

"I want to be out there to help my team; I know we're a better team with me out there," he said. "The biggest thing is I have to be more mentally tough now. I'm not feeling my best (physically), so mentally I have to do what I do. I have to out-think, rather than out-physical, guys now.

"But it's all part of the game. I've dealt with injuries a lot, but not of this magnitude and not at this point of the season."