The Blazers were led by the returning Aldridge's 25 points, 16 rebounds and 2 assists, with support from Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, and Robin Lopez. The bench also had nice contributions, especially Mo Williams and Thomas Robinson.
First Half: Aldridge reminded everyone of his presence with 6 quick points, settling the Blazers down before they could have another early-game meltdown. Portland used his presence to keep a slim lead all quarter, despite more sub-30% three-point shooting. A rare made three-pointer at the buzzer from Mo Williams gave the Blazers a 6 point lead after the first, helped by Atlanta struggling to score just 16 points.
Some old-school pick and rolls gave Robin Lopez 7 quick points, and a Lillard three-pointer finally swished, leaving Portland with a 14 point lead. They couldn't keep their collective foot on the gas pedal though, and some awful, awful Blazer D helped the Hawks close within single digits again. But the Blazers played strong at both ends, and a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Matthews put Portland ahead by 16.
Portland 53, Atlanta 37
IT'S BEEN YEARS SINCE WE LAST HAD A LEAD IN A GAME
Second Half: An immediate run for the Hawks, as the Blazer shots stopped falling again. Atlanta outscored Portland 15-5 in the first 5 minutes of the quarter. But Portland fought back, stepping up their defense and pulling ahead by 13 again. Atlanta pulled within 11, and Lillard shot a three-pointer at the buzzer. If you have to ask if it went in, you didn't read the first half recap.
Lillard from NYC!
Williams and Lopez hooked up for a pick-and-roll dunk that restored the Blazer 16 point lead, only for a Blazer turnover and foul-fest to quickly cost them half of that lead. As Portland again could not hit a shot, Atlanta cut the lead to 6 with 8 minutes left. But with 5 minutes left, Portland kept control, leading by 11. Despite the usual hot shooting from Lou Williams (would he be an All-Star if he played the Blazers 82 times?), Portland maintained a 10 point lead with 3 minutes left. With under 2 minutes left, an Atlanta three-pointer cut the lead to 9, but it was too little too late, as the Blazers scored 5 straight points to hold on for a win they both expected and needed.
Batten down the hatches, the Blazers finish this forgettable road trip in Chicago tomorrow night. But in the meantime, stay tuned for more from Dave later tonight.
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