Al Jefferson said he felt "useless" as a pesky sprained ankle kept him sidelined for the last three games.

The Jazz’s leading scorer was reduced to a spectator for cruel back-to-back losses this week. One in overtime, the other after a layup did a bossa nova dance with the rim before popping out.

Now, Jefferson is on the verge of returning, saying he is "pretty confident" he will play against the Bulls on Friday in Chicago.

While the losses didn’t help Jefferson’s spirit, the Jazz center said he was already in a funk due to missing time, something injuries have rarely forced him to do since he tore his ACL while with the Timberwolves.

Jefferson leads the Jazz with 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

And while the Jazz eagerly espouse the virtues of a team, the life of an injured NBA player is a solitary one.

"It sucks, man," Jefferson said. "I felt useless, attitude’s messed up. Didn’t really feel like talking to nobody. I just go into this dark place because if you ain’t playing basketball — for me, I can’t speak for anybody else — I love it."

In three seasons with the Jazz, Jefferson has missed just nine games. In 2010-11, his first year in Utah, he played all 82 games.

"I take a lot of pride in not missing games," he said.