Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 3/1/12
In one of the more surprising developments of this season, All-Star center Al Horford has been cleared to begin rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. Horford was expected to miss the remainder of the regular season but could be in the process of making a return much sooner than anyone expected, including coach Larry Drew. "It's still a little too early to know exactly what's in store for Al this season," Drew said. "But I'd be lying if I didn't tell you it was a pleasant surprise, a much-needed surprise, given the way we've struggled in his absence." NOTES, QUOTES -An extra day in February wasn't the best idea for a team dealing with the sort of month the Hawks have in this Leap Year. A team that has been reeling for weeks found themselves at odds with what works yet again in their 85-82 loss t0 the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night. After compiling an impressive 8-1 home record to start the season, the Hawks are just 2-5 in their last seven games at Philips Arena and in danger of not only losing their place in the Eastern Conference standings but also the remaining fans that show up on any given night to watch one of the most maddening teams in the league go about their business. The Hawks shot a season-low 33.7 percent from the floor, missing 61 of their 92 shots from the field, plenty of them from long distance but even more from point-blank range. Coach Larry Drew didn't hesitate to toast his team afterwards for what was clearly some spotty shot selection. "We settled tonight, particularly the first half," Drew said. "I thought we settled for way too many jump shots. We've got to be smarter and understand the flow of the game. It's one thing if you're making shots, but if you're not making shots from the perimeter you can't just settle for jump shots." The Hawks were particularly brutal with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. They made just seven of their 25 shots. Josh Smith was 2-for-11 in the fourth and paved the way for the Warriors to execute their offense and exit the premises with a win. "We shot a lot of jumpshots and we weren't making it, so it was tough," said Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson, who returned after a two-game and All-Star Weekend break where he rested his sore left knee. "I thought we missed a lot of point-blank shots with nobody around. I'm sure we'll bounce back and have to get the next one, but it was definitely a tough loss for us." -Joe Johnson's return from his two-game absence before All-Star Weekend didn't get off to the sort of start he had hoped. He made a shot on the Hawks' first possession and then proceeded to miss everything else he put up before halftime. But he later nailed three straight shots to get the Hawks back into the game. "I wouldn't say I was 100 percent, but I was decent," Johnson said. That's apparently good enough for the Hawks, who need all hands on deck for the remainder of this season. QUOTE TO NOTE "Take nothing away from Golden State. They played extremely hard. But it was a combination of both (our offense and their defense). Guys kind of buckled in and got stops when they needed to get stops." -- Hawks forward Marvin Williams after the loss.
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