Looking like a team on a six-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers fell short in Atlanta against the short-handed Hawks, losing by 3. Marcus Camby was dressed tonight but did not play, but the big story was the loss of Nicolas Batum, who left for the hospital for x-rays due to a left eye injury before halftime (details below).
Jamal Crawford, returning to Atlanta, led the Blazers in scoring with 22, Raymond Felton led in assists (8), and LaMarcus Aldridge led in rebounding (11) while adding 20 points for a double-double.
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Remember the first half against New Orleans, where we all talked about trying to forget it? The Blazers forced us to have flashbacks in the first half tonight. They had no alibi, they were ugly, and the Hawks led by 9 at the half. To make matters worse, the aforementioned Batum was poked in the eye, then headed to the locker room and, shortly after, the hospital for x-rays.
Portland heated up to start the third quarter, scoring the first nine points to cut the lead to one. Atlanta tried to push the lead back up, but Aldridge kept the Blazers close. With a nice pass from Felton to the Rhino, the Blazers finally captured the lead. Then they ran out of energy again, as a Tracy McGrady three-point play bumped the lead to 13 on a 14-0 run to finish the third.
Both teams play to a standstill at the start of the fourth, but the Blazers break through when a Wallace layup cut the lead to 8, and Atlanta needed a timeout. Before you knew it, Crawford and Kurt Thomas pulled the Blazers into a tie, completing a 13-0 run! But after the Blazers took a quick lead, Joe Johnson wrested control of the game, hitting a three for a 4-point lead. Portland stayed close, still within 2 at the two minute mark. But it wasn't enough, as Blazer turnovers and missed free throws helped throw the game away.
The box score is here, but you're not missing much. Stay tuned for Dave's recap, and we'll see you in Friday night's game thread, as the Blazers are in Toronto. Hang in there everyone. -- Tim