Brand to start for Horford

The Hawks will start Elton Brand at center tonight against the Bobcats in the first game without Al Horford.

Coach Mike Budenholzer said he wasn’t prepared to say if Brand will remain as the starter going forward. He also would speculate if other players, such as Gustavo Ayon or Pero Antic, could assume the starting role.

“We’ll probably go with that for now,” Budenholzer said. “We’ll see how the group fits and what is best for our group going forward. … I’m not comfortable saying what it is going to be. Elton is starting tonight. I feel comfortably say that for sure.”

On the Horford injury, Budenholzer said: “It’s a tough break. Most importantly and first, for Al. Al is having a great season. Al cares about our group and wants to complete and play and perform. We all feel for him. As a group we’ll pull together and we’ll move forward.”

DeMarre Carroll, who suffered a right thumb sprain (shooting hand) Thursday, will be a game-time decision.

“He’s pretty sore and tender but he wants to play all the time,” Budenholzer said. “We have to be smart and look at the big picture.”

Carroll said his thumb got bent back when he tangled with Tyler Zeller fighting through a screen.

“They want me to rest right now,” Carroll said.

Cartier Martin would be the likely replacement if Carroll is ruled out.

Without Horford and if Carroll can’t play, Jeff Teague will be the only Hawks player to start all 30 games.

John Jenkins remains out as he deals with nerve pain in his leg related to his back problem.

* I will have more reaction and analysis of the Hawks minus Horford later.