Joe Johnson did one of those routine things that every basketball player does -- grab a rebound. He banged hands with the New Jersey Nets' Anthony Morrow and awkwardly bent back his right thumb. He will miss at least one more game with a sprained right thumb.
Johnson was hurt in the early minutes of the third quarter of the Atlanta Hawks' playoff-clinching 98-87 win over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday. Writhing in pain, Johnson played a few more sequences on the court, clearly favoring the injured thumb before Atlanta called a 20-second time out.
The Atlanta guard briefly went to the bench, met with head trainer Wally Blase and headed to the locker room for X-rays.
Johnson was officially listed as questionable.
However, with Atlanta cruising by as many as 30 against the lowly Nets, coach Larry Drew dared not put Johnson back in the game. With a Sunday evening tilt against the even lowlier Cleveland Cavaliers looming, the Hawks told him not even to bother making the trip.
Johnson, who signed a max contract with the Hawks in the offseason, has been criticized in some circles of late as his game sagged on the court. After posting an average of 20 points per game over the last five seasons, Johnson is netting 18.6 points per game this year.
Ironically, the Atlanta All-Star was having one of his better games, posting 12 points, dishing four assists and grabbing three boards before he left the game.