LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 16 rebounds in his return from a back injury, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 100-85 on Thursday night to end a three-game losing streak.
Damian Lillard added 21 points for the Trail Blazers, who had lost seven of 10 and were in danger of falling out of the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.
The Hawks have lost five straight. They lead the Knicks by only 1 ½ games in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Jeff Teague, who was scoreless in Wednesday night’s loss at Minnesota, led the Hawks with 22 points. Lou Williams had 16 points, including 13 in the final period when Atlanta closed the deficit to six points.
Atlanta’s Kyle Korver missed his fifth straight game because of back spasms and center Pero Antic sat out after he twisted his right ankle in Wednesday night’s loss at Minnesota.
After a couple misses, Aldridge quickly found his shot in his return after missing seven games with a lower back contusion.
The Trail Blazers led 53-37 at halftime. The Hawks narrowly avoided their season low for points in the opening half.
Atlanta opened the second half with a 15-5 run, capped by DeMarre Carroll’s 3-pointer, to trim the lead to 58-52.
Williams had eight points in Atlanta’s 10-0 run that again cut Portland’s lead to six points at 80-74. A three-point play by Aldridge pushed the lead back to double digits at 87-76.
Korver, the 3-point specialist, has not played since March 18, when the Hawks beat Toronto for their fifth straight win. The Hawks have not won since losing Korver.
Portland closed each of the first three periods with 3-pointers — by Mo Williams, Wesley Matthews and Lillard. Officials needed a review to confirm there was time remaining in the first half when Matthews launched his long 3.
NOTES: The Trail Blazers, who beat Atlanta 102-78 in Portland on March 5, won their first season series over the Hawks since the 2007-08 season. … Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson attended the game. … Elton Brand had 11 points and 12 rebounds as the fill-in starter for Antic… The Hawks’ season low for first-half points was 34 against San Antonio on Jan. 24.
( Courtesy AP……Source……Our Freelance Sports Contributor in Atlanta & New Africa Business News )