Hawks notes: Horford hopes to play through fouls

Hawks coach Larry Drew said he had no second thoughts about his decision to sit center Al Horford for more than 20 minutes of the team’s Game 2 loss to Orlando on Tuesday.

Drew removed Horford from the game after he was called for two fouls within the first three minutes and left him on the bench until after halftime. The Hawks struggled to rebound and score over that time, and Horford is the team’s best rebounder and most efficient scorer.

Horford, a two-time All-Star, played just 26 minutes in the 88-82 loss and finished with the two fouls. Drew almost always handled Horford the same way during the regular season.

“It’s one of those things you hate to come out of the game and sit out for a whole half because you are not in a rhythm,” Horford said. “The third quarter comes around and you try to get into the flow of things. It’s one of those things that we learn from that, and if we are in this position again, hopefully Coach puts me in in the second quarter and we just play and see what happens.”

Horford has the lowest foul rate among NBA centers who played at least 1,000 minutes this season, and he has fouled out of four of his 335 career games, including the playoffs.

Drew said he had planned to send Horford back in Game 2, but didn’t because the Hawks led for most of the second period. The Magic went on a 14-3 run over the final five minutes of the half.

Trust the offense

After the Magic defense pressured the Hawks in Game 2, Drew said he told players they didn’t trust the offense.

Orlando’s double teams against guard Joe Johnson caused the Hawks’ offense to stagnate because he held the ball instead of quickly passing to force the defense shift. The Hawks settled for lots of jump shots, but said they planned to focus on swinging the ball and driving to the basket in Game 3 on Friday night.

“Trust means making the right plays,” Drew said. “We surely had opportunities to get the ball out much sooner against double teams. We didn’t swing it fast. We were much slower getting into our sets. We didn’t have the sharpness.”

Foul mood?

Hawks center Jason Collins has said more than once that he and his backups need to be physical with Magic counterpart Dwight Howard. That prompted Howard and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to react in the media, and then the Hawks felt officials’ calls favored the Magic in Game 2.

“We have to keep playing regardless of whatever calls there are or aren’t,” Collins said. “We know going into this series we have to put pressure on the referees to make calls. Dwight is trying to clear space in the paint. We have got to keep a body on him and continue to be physical.”


Horford (knee) and forward Josh Smith (elbow) both said they would start Friday. Horford said he plans to wear a knee pad to protect a bruised bone. ... Drew said center Etan Thomas was excused from practice Thursday because of the death of his grandfather and may miss Game 3. Thomas was inactive for Game 2.