The worst fears for the Hawks have been confirmed.
Guard Lou Williams suffered a torn right ACL on Friday against the Nets, the team announced Saturday.
Williams will miss the rest of the season following surgery and then will be given a timetable for return.
Williams injured the knee in the second quarter of Atlanta's 94-89 loss. It was a non-contact injury as the knee buckled during a hard drive to the basket. Williams left the floor in a wheelchair.
The team initially called the injury a right knee sprain, but an MRI on Saturday changed the diagnosis.
"We are extremely disappointed for Lou, and our thoughts and support will be with him during his recovery," said Danny Ferry, the Hawks' president of basketball operations and general manager in a statement. "He has been a complete professional in every sense of the word and know that approach, along with his work ethic, will serve him well in his rehabilitation."
Williams, 26, is averaging 14.1 points, 3.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 28.7 minutes. He has become an extremely valuable piece to the team's depth, adding a serious weapon to the bench. His creating and isolation scoring ability had him emerge as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
The Hawks are sixth in the East at 22-17 but, without Williams, will face a serious uphill battle. Their backcourt is now much thinner, and the Hawks will likely rely more on playing two point guards in Devin Harris and Jeff Teague as well as using rookie John Jenkins and marksman Anthony Morrow more.