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DeMarre Carroll returns to practice; could play Friday against Pistons

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Atlanta Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll returned to practice on Wednesday, representing an optimistic sign for his availability on Friday against the Detroit Pistons.

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The Atlanta Hawks have struggled violently on the defensive end in losses to both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers this week, but help could be on way. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that starting small forward DeMarre Carroll returned to practice on Wednesday, and that is certainly a positive sign toward the prospect of Carroll returning to lineup on Friday against the Detroit Pistons.

Carroll is one of the team's best perimeter defenders (alongside Thabo Sefolosha), and the veteran forward has missed the past four games as a result of a groin injury. While the team did manage to garner wins over Utah and Miami, Carroll's absence has been felt defensively in the last two games, as the team has allowed a total of 241 points with defensive ratings of 130.0 points per 100 possessions against Cleveland and 120.4 points per 100 against Los Angeles.

Prior to the injury, the 28-year-old Carroll was building on his breakout success from last season, shooting 45.8% from three (on 4.0 attempts per game), and averaging 12.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest. Thabo Sefolosha has gotten the start in all four contests, but the team's depth has been tested with Carroll in the lineup.

There is no definitive word on DeMarre Carroll's availability for Friday, but given the team's two days off between games, it appears to be a safe bet that he'll be returning to action. Stay tuned.