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Thunder At Hawks: Josh Smith Out, But Kevin Durant May Play

Kevin Durant laced up the shoes and headed to shootaround. The Atlanta Hawks wish that they could say the same about Josh Smith.

Smith will miss his second game with a sore right knee as the Hawks take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at Philips Arena (7:30 p.m., SportSouth, 97.9 FM).

Atlanta. which in the midst of successive games with the Thunder, the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers, can ill afford to lose Smith, who is the team's defensive anchor and shot blocker. Thanks to Al Horford, however, the Hawks managed to steal a win against the Chicago Bulls.

Horford stepped his game into beast mode in Atlanta's 83-80 win over Chicago on Wednesday. The Atlanta center tied a career high with 31 points and posted 16 boards in an effort where he scored as many points (13) as the Bulls in the third quarter.

The Hawks rallied from a 14-0 Chicago start and a 19 point deficit to finally overtake the Bulls on Horford's dunk with 29 seconds left. He stole the ball that bounced off the hands of Derrick Rose and dished it to Joe Johnson for the final score of the game.

Oklahoma City is coming off of a 113-89 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday -- a game where Durant tweaked his ankle in the third quarter. The NBA's leading scorer was initially was listed as doubtful on Friday. But the Thunder star participated in pre-game shootaround and told Fox 5's Buck Landford that he hoped to play this evening.

That's very bad news for Hawks fans.

Durant has wreaked all sorts of havoc against the Hawks, posting an average of almost 31 points over the team's last four games, including 33 in the Thunders' 103-94 win in Oklahoma on New Year's Eve.

The former Seattle SuperSonics will also be without backup point guard Nate Robinson, who is out for four-to-six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The Hawks should, however, see a good deal of Oklahoma City's other big deadline acquisition -- former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins -- for this one.

The Thunder also boast Russell Westbrook, who has stepped up when Durant has been out this season. He's averaging 32.5 points in the two games that Durant has not played in.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.