Hawks guard Joe Johnson will return to the lineup two weeks ahead of schedule after having right elbow surgery. Th efour-time All-Star will start Friday night against Charlotte at Philips Arena.
“The therapy just went great, the swelling’s gone down,” Johnson said. “We’ve just been shooting (with) no pain. It’s just feeling great, so I just didn’t feel like it was necessary to wait another two weeks and leave the guys hanging out there like that when I can really get out there and give ‘em everything I got.”
Johnson had surgery to remove a loose body from his elbow at the beginning of December. He had been expected to be out four to six weeks. His return was so unexpected that coach Larry Drew thought trainer Wally Blase was kidding when he told Drew that Johnson could go Friday.
The Hawks went 5-4 in his absence but have lost three of the last four.
The return comes at a fortuitous time. Guard Jamal Crawford will miss his second consecutive game with a back injury.