The last time the Atlanta Hawks were at Philips Arena, Al Horford took one of the nastiest spills you'll ever see. Four days later, the Atlanta center hopes to get back into another NBA game.
Horford and the Hawks look to extend their home winning streak to 15 of their last 17 games when the middling Philadelphia 76ers come to town on Tuesday night (7:00 pm., SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
Atlanta (33-18) has been on a bit of a tear of late, posting wins in four out of its last five games, including a 99-92 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at the Verizon Center. However, the Hawks played that one without one of their captains as Horford missed the game with a back contusion.
The former Florida Gator injured his back in a violent collision with the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin in the final second of Atlanta's 101-100 win. As Horford went to the bucket for the potential go-ahead score, he was ripped out of the air by Griffin, who was assessed a flagrant-1 on the play. Shaking off the obvious pain, Horford drained both free throws to give the Hawks the win.
Horford is not the only Hawk who is ailing. Josh Smith missed Monday's practice with a knee injury and Joe Johnson was given the day off. While Smith and Johnson should play on Tuesday, Horford's status is less clear. However, the Atlanta big man told the AJC's Michael Cunningham that he hopes to play after participating in the team's morning shootaround.
"I think I should be OK for the game," he said. "I think as long as I go out there and feel OK and I feel right, I think you can play through some pain."
Take whatever Horford says with a grain of salt. Ever the warrior, Horford had vowed to play on Saturday against Washington. Coach Larry Drew and the Atlanta training staff will have the final word on whether he plays or not, no matter what Horford says about his condition.
Atlanta will be taking on a Sixers team that was on a bit of a roll, posting wins in six of their last seven games before they were derailed by the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Elton Brand had 28 points in the 117-103 setback, but it wasn't nearly enough to offset a terrific performance by New York's Amare Stoudemire, who posted 41 points in the contest.
If there's one number to look at in this one, it is 100. Philadelphia is 1-16 this season when allowing opponents to eclipse the century mark. With the Hawks proclivity to run and gun and the matchups somewhat favorable, it's likely that Atlanta will bump that total by the end of the evening. If they do, they should win the game.
Atlanta has taken four of the last give meetings between the two clubs, including a 104-101 win in Philadelphia on Oct. 29.