Once the hoopla of All-Star weekend is over and the NBA goes back to work, the Hawks will have 27 games left in the regular season.

They also will have no good reason not to become a true contender in the Eastern Conference, both of the team's All-Star representatives said this weekend.

"I think all of the excuses are out the door," Hawks guard Joe Johnson said. "We can't hang our hat that we are a young team anymore. We can't say it's a new coach. It's just put up or shut up."

The Hawks (34-21) stand one game behind Orlando for fourth place in the East. The top four teams in each conference earn home-court advantage in the first round.

The Hawks staggered into the break, losing three of four games. Center Al Horford said he agreed with Johnson that the team has no excuse not to do better.