Al Horford injury: Hawks big man won't return for postseason

Mike Lawrie

If the Hawks hang on to the No. 8 seed and get into the playoffs, Horford won't be participating due to his right pectoral injury.

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford won't attempt to return to the court if the Hawks make the playoffs this season, according to the Associated Press.

Horford has been out since tearing his right pectoral muscle on Dec. 26. While Horford tore his left pectoral muscle early in the 2011-12 season only to return later in the year, he says it's different this time:

"No. I think it would be hard. This injury, honestly, was a little more severe than the other one," he explained Thursday in his first meeting with reporters since the injury. "And it's my right side, shooting arm, and I need to feel 100 percent confident with it, so I think it's going to be a little bit slower."

Horford was off to one of the best starts of his career when he got hurt. The 27-year-old was averaging 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 56.7 percent from the field at the time of the injury.

Atlanta had a 16-13 record when Horford went down. The Hawks were able to survive at first without their star big man in the lineup, going 9-8 over the next 17 games. But during a stretch from Feb. 4 to March 8, Atlanta went 1-14 as other injuries also took their toll.

The Hawks have righted the ship, at least briefly, notching two wins in a row. However, a playoff spot still may be in jeopardy, as the New York Knicks have won five games in a row and are just 3½ games behind Atlanta.

While the Horford injury was a major blow to the Hawks' season, some good may come out of it. Horford said the injury has forced him to use his left hand more often, something he has neglected in the past. If Horford can return with a more versatile offensive game, he and Paul Millsap will make for an even more potent frontcourt duo.

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