Highlights: Wizards 106, Pistons 99
No more hoping for the best in Atlanta: Al Horford is done for the season.
The Hawks center will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Tuesday after tearing his right pectoral muscle on Thursday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
As we wrote about last week, losing their best big man is quite the blow to Atlanta, one of only three teams in the Eastern Conference along with the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks with winning records (I'm still shocked every time I write that nugget). The Hawks have other talents, namely Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver, but any hopes of a stunning playoff run ended with Horford injury.
Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin wrote that Horford, 27, "had been playing the best ball of his career this season" noting his 18.6 points a game on 56.7 percent shooting with 8.4 rebounds a game.
The Hawks split two games since Horford's injury, an overtime win over Charlotte and 109-102 loss at Orlando on Sunday. Elton Brand, who replaced Horford in the starting lineup, had seven points and two rebounds in 14 minutes. Backup center Pero Antic also picks up more minutes in the new setup. Right now nobody is giddy over such developments. Atlanta faces Boston on Tuesday afternoon.
At this point the Wizards haven't been mentioned in this post, but they're obviously one of the potential beneficiaries. Washington, currently fifth in the East, needs one more win to join the over .500 club.
John Wall and company will have to wait until the 2014 for the chance with their next game New Year's Day against the Dallas Mavericks. The Hawks will have to wait a lot longer before their best big man returns.