Hawks' Joe Smith ready to come back

Smith said he expects to play in Tuesday's game against Cleveland after dislocating his left thumb Dec. 9.

After practicing Monday, Smith said he'll see how the thumb responds Tuesday morning.

"I went through some contact stuff today, got it beat up a little bit a couple times, but it bounced back pretty good," Smith said. "I think I'll be ready."

Smith said the thumb is still painful when it gets hit, but that he can play through it and that he can catch and shoot "pretty much my normal way now."

Stat of the day

When center Al Horford registered 25 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks against Indiana Saturday, he became just the second player to hit those marks in one game in the last five years, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The other, Orlando's Dwight Howard, has done it twice, once in overtime.

"If you look at it, you have a lot of great centers and power forwards, Pau Gasol, (Tim) Duncan, all those guys," who have not matched those numbers in a game in that span, Horford said. "I do feel pretty good about that."

Now it can be told

Horford acknowledged the scope of the ankle injury that hobbled him against Cleveland in last year's playoffs. He sat out one game and scored just 10 points in 81 minutes in the other three games. After the season, Horford needed about a month and a half to heal.

"I shouldn't have been playing, to be honest," Horford said. "I tried to go the first game and by the start of the second half, I could barely get up and down the court. ... I don't know if I would do that again if I'm in that position because I could have gotten injured worse."

Pep talk for Teague

Coach Mike Woodson said he planned to sit down with rookie guard Jeff Teague Monday. The coach said Teague has "a ways to go" defensively and that he has to be more of a "nuisance" when defending the ball.

"We've just got to keep pushing him and showing him film and showing him some love when he gets out on the floor, to push him to play harder," Woodson said. While acknowledging Teague's scarce minutes of late, the coach said, "He's got to take what minutes he gets and turn them into more minutes by the way he plays and he's not doing that yet."

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