Coach defends move to protect Horford

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ATLANTA --- Hawks coach Larry Drew said Wednesday big man Al Horford is too valuable not to have available late in a playoff game against Orlando.

Horford said he is too valuable to sit out most the first half against the Magic.

The coach sat the All-Star for all but 2 minutes of the first half in Atlanta's 88-82 loss to Orlando on Tuesday night. Drew said Wednesday it was the right call.

Horford said his track record indicates maybe it wasn't.

Drew said Horford would have played if the Hawks had "a bad stretch" in the second quarter.

"I wanted to roll the dice with that," Drew said. "I thought we were playing well."

The Magic outscored the Hawks 32-20 in the period to lead 48-42 at halftime.

Horford never picked up another foul in the game and has not fouled out this season. Asked if those were good reasons to leave him in the game, Horford said "I'd agree with that."

"It's one of those things coach felt like it was going OK for us, keeping me on the bench," Horford said. "It's something to consider for the future."

Horford finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday.

The Hawks tend to struggle when Horford is not on the floor, especially at home.

Horford missed only five games this season, including two of the team's most lopsided losses of the season.

He was out with a sprained ankle when New Orleans crushed the Hawks 100-59 in Atlanta on Jan. 21. He was out with a sore back when Philadelphia won by 34 points in Atlanta, 117-83, on Feb. 8.


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