During the fourth quarter of a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday evening, the Atlanta Hawks suffered a personnel loss as a result of injury. Starting small forward Taurean Prince was forced to the sideline as a result of an ankle issue, as the third-year player landed on the foot of Shaun Livingston and was immediately taken to the locker room.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, head coach Lloyd Pierce expressed both frustration and annoyance with what transpired in the game, indicating that he believed the visiting Warriors should have been whistled for a flagrant foul. On the injury front itself, Pierce admitted that Prince was “going to probably miss some time” and, on Tuesday morning, he expressed similar sentiment in speaking with reporters at Atlanta’s practice.
With that as the backdrop, the Hawks issued an official release with regard to Prince’s status on Tuesday evening and, after an MRI, it was revealed that Prince has a ligament sprain, bone bruise and associated soft tissue inflammation. As a result, he’ll be sidelined for at least three weeks before re-evaluation.
Prince missed two games in mid-November with what the team described as right Achilles pain but, aside from that, the 24-year-old has been a fixture in the team’s starting lineup. There have been moments of inconsistency, particularly on the defensive end, but the Hawks do rely on Prince for shot-making and size on the wing, even in a world in which the rest of their rotation is largely healthy at the moment.
In his absence, Pierce and his staff will likely turn to Kent Bazemore as a replacement in the starting lineup, as the veteran only recently moved into a reserve role (with rookie Kevin Huerter in the opening five) on the heels of a lengthy losing skid. Bazemore is, of course, quite capable of filling in admirably but the Hawks will be pushed to lengthen their rotation in other ways, which could lead to further deployment from Justin Anderson, two-point guard lineups featuring Jeremy Lin, or even rotation minutes from Tyler Dorsey and/or Daniel Hamilton.
Prince’s status will be interesting to monitor moving forward but, in the meantime, the Hawks will be short-handed for a run that could extend through Christmas and beyond.