Oh. My. Goodness.
The Portland Trail Blazers blew the doors off Philips Arena in the first quarter, then fended off every run to beat the Atlanta Hawks with relative ease Saturday night, 113-97. The Hawks, without the injured Paul Millsap, struggled at both ends of the court, and the Blazers were happy to take advantage. Portland also enjoyed the return of Evan Turner, who had a muted game in his first appearance after a broken hand.
Before the Atlanta Hawks had time to shake out the cobwebs, the Blazers had raced to a 40-18 first quarter lead. Lillard scored 13, but the scoring was spread out around seven different Blazers, who simply out-classed the Hawks while shooting 76%.
Alas, it couldn’t last, and Atlanta promptly went on a second-quarter run. They closed the gap to 12, but the Blazers stepped on the gas. Allen Crabbe swished a three-pointer to push the lead back to 19. Atlanta did their best to keep things close afterward, leaving Portland ahead by 17 at the half.
More of the same in the second half, as the Blazers simply stretched out their arm to hold the Hawks back while they swung their fists wildly. Nonetheless, Atlanta mounted a late run to close the gap to 12 after three.
Atlanta attempted a run to open the fourth, but they just didn’t have the firepower. In the first five minutes, the Blazers restored their 20 point lead, and the game was effectively over. The bench players got a well-earned run.
In a team effort, the Blazers saw good nights from Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Moe Harkless, Noah Vonleh, and Allen Crabbe off the bench.
No rest for the Blazers, who hop right onto a plane to Miami. They play the Heat tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 pm PDT. Stay tuned though, we’ll have more of today’s game from Dave Deckard.