We were not expecting to see Joe Johnson return to the Hawks lineup after elbow surgery until we had all sung Auld Lang Syne and then the next morning tried to remember through the blur what we had done the night before for New Year’s Eve.
But there he was Friday night, starting for the Atlanta Hawks against the Bobcats.
Johnson — the team’s leading scorer and clutch go-to-guy last season who signed a six-year max extension this summer — started this season struggling with his shot. His field goal percentage had fallen .50 points, his three point shooting was down to 25.6 percent (from 36.9 percent last season). After looking for a cause he had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow.
In his absence, the Hawks were 5-4, but have lost their last two. If the playoffs started today the Hawks would be the sixth seed in the East.