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Bulls At Hawks: Josh Smith Out With Sore Right Knee, Kirk Hinrich To Start

Bad news Atlanta Hawks fans, Josh Smith will not play in Wednesday night's matchup against the Chicago Bulls according to team spokesman Arthur Triche.

The Atlanta forward sprained the MCL in his right knee in Monday night's contest against the Denver Nuggets when he banged knees with J.R. Smith with 7:44 left in the second quarter. After briefly returning to end the quarter, he sat out the second half. The Hawks lost that one 100-90.

The team opted not to have an MRI on Josh Smith's knee and declared him day-to-day. Today's not one of those days where Josh Smith can answer the bell.

Atlanta can ill afford to lose Josh Smith -- a prolific defender and shot blocker -- for an extended period of time. It's going to be rough enough for Atlanta to deal with Joakim NoahCarlos Boozer and Luol Deng in Smith's absence tonight.

But the schedule doesn't get much easier after that for the Hawks, who are in the midst of playing 10 of their next 11 at home. After playing the Bulls, the Hawks have home matchups against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The news wasn't all bad for Atlanta, point guard Kirk Hinrich is expected to suit up and make his Philips Arena debut against his former team on Tuesday. Hinrich, who was acquired in a trade deadline deal that sent Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans, Jamal Crawford and a first round pick to the Washington Wizards, missed Monday's game with a sore right calf.

The AJC's Michael Cunningham Ken Sugiura reports that Hinrich is expected to start at the point on Wednesday. Jason Collins will get the start at center, while Al Horford fills in for Josh Smith at power forward. The rest of the lineup is the same: Joe Johnson at the two and Marvin Williams at the three.

Since the trade, Bibby was bought out of his contract by Washington. He's expected to sign with the Miami Heat sometime today.

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