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Reunion for Joe Johnson as Nets march into Georgia

Going home: Joe Johnson returns to the scene of his previous triumphs, including a $127 million contract.


It's Joe Johnson's first return to Atlanta where he played for seven years, six of them as an All-Star. It will also be the first time former Nets Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson and Johan Petro will face their former teammates ... even if in street clothes. But truth be told, Hawk fans have something else to be concerned about: their team is in free fall. losing six of their last seven and two straight.

Johnson says, matter-of-factly, that he has no animosity towards his former team, for whom he averaged 20.7 points and from whom he got a $124 million contract. "I understand in this game of basketball, it’s a business and they done what they had to do," Johnson said. "I’m glad they were able to trade me and put me in a great situation."

In the last 10 games, (3-7), the Hawks look like they could use some Joe Johnson. Over that stretch, they rank 27th in both points scored at 90.3 and margin of victory, -7.3, a stat helped enormously by their historic 39-point loss to the Bulls two nights ago. They scored a franchise low five points in the second quarter, a franchise low 20 points in the first half and a near franchise low 58 points for the game. They're also 29th in rebounding as well as 23rd in turnovers over the last 10 games.

They've also been plagued by injury. Morrow, who's had nagging hip issues, hasn't played in January. Stevenson has a bad right knee. The two are questionable. Petro, however, is healthy, but even in the Bulls blowout, he logged only seven minutes. Devin Harris has been his typical self, showing flashes of brilliance mixed with mediocrity and injury. Of course, they still have Josh Smith, Al Horford and Lou Williams, but after a great start, they've been in a bad funk.

For the Nets, it's possible that Gerald Wallace's bruised knee could be ready for game action. He did some light practice before the Nets game vs. the Raptors. One thing to be sure of: Mirza Teletovic won't be in street clothes if healthy.

[Update: Josh Smith has been suspended for tonight's game.]