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NBA Atlanta Hawks

Al Horford Rises To Occasion, Atlanta Hawks Improve to 2-2

Al Horford

Kelley L. Cox – USA TODAY Sports

With Josh Smith gone, the Atlanta Hawks are Al Horford’s team. There is just simply no denying that fact at this point. Many believed the two-time All-Star would deliver a statistical uptick this season but doubted his ability to carry a team. Now four games in Horford is making those doubters appear foolish and is knocking on the door to superstardom.

Horford put up his highest scoring game of the season thus far in Tuesday’s 105-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings. He finished the night with 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks as the Hawks were able to withstand a fourth quarter rally from the home team to even up their record at 2-2.

This is the type of player the franchise had envisioned that Horford would become when they drafted the former Florida Gator with the third overall selection of the 2007 draft and then signed him to a five-year, $60 million extension in 2010. Although he has been a very solid contributor since day one, the 27-year-old center routinely played second fiddle to the likes of Smith or former Hawks’ All-Star Joe Johnson. Well, those days have come and gone.

Horford will lead the Hawks into the Rocky Mountains on Thursday night for a battle with the surprisingly winless Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. If he can continue to build upon his 18 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, the team should have a great shot at climbing over the .500 mark for the first time.

Nate Miller is an Atlanta Braves writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoRant, add him to your network on Google or like him on Facebook