Al Horford may have been down, but he was not out.
Moments after Horford sunk the game winning free throws with .6 seconds left in the Atlanta Hawks thrilling 101-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night at Philips Arena, the team announced that the Atlanta star suffered a back contusion. He will be reevaluated on Saturday ahead of the club's contest against the Washington Wizards.
Horford, who was selected to his second All-Star Game on Thursday, played like one on Friday, posting 23 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
But he saved his biggest heroics for last.
Down one with 3.3 seconds left, Joe Johnson fed Horford the ball from the Atlanta sideline. The two-time Florida Gator national champion faked as if he was going to return the ball to Johnson before driving the lane. He met Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin at the bucket.
Griffin violently collided into the Atlanta big man as the two landed on the court with a thump. Horford immediately rolled over and grabbed his back in pain while the officials called time out and assessed Griffin with a Flagrant-1 foul. Rather than leave the game and have Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro select the shooter, Horford picked himself up, regained his composure and sunk a pair of free throws to win the game.
"I'm OK," Horford told the team's TV broadcast afterward. "We checked everything out. ... I actually kind of thought I was going to be able to turn the corner. He came in late. "
Horford later tweeted that he was receiving treatment on his back, presumably on the team plane to Washington, D.C.
If Horford is unable to go in Washington, expect Jason Collins to take his place at center, while Josh Smith and Marvin Williams get the start at the forward position.