Hawks try to slow down Lillard, McCollum vs. Blazers
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks will look for a way to slow down two players who have been troublesome for them — and do it on short rest.
The Hawks, who lost at Toronto on Friday, will have a rough back-to-back when they host the Portland Trail Blazers (18-16) on Saturday at Philips Arena.
Atlanta (9-26) will be tested defensively by Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who both averaged 24 points in two games against the Hawks last season.
Lillard has missed the last three games with a strained right hamstring, but is expected to play against the Hawks. Lillard tested the injury in pregame warm-ups Thursday, but opted out of the game against Philadelphia.
“It doesn’t make sense to have that amount of time to get back healthy and then go out there if I’m not feeling 100 percent,” Lillard said. “I feel like it made the most sense.”
Lillard’s replacement in the starting lineup Thursday was Shabazz Napier, who scored 23 points against the Sixers, and has topped 20 in back-to-back games. He averages 9.2 points this season.
McCollum averages 21.1 points and scored 34 against the Sixers. Lillard averages 25.2 points (seventh-best in the NBA), 6.4 assists and five rebounds.
Atlanta had its two-game winning streak stopped Friday in a 111-98 loss against the Raptors. The Hawks wasted a career-high 30-point effort from second-year forward Taurean Prince. The Baylor product was 12-for-16 from the field, including 5-for-6 on 3-pointers. He has made a 3 in 17 straight games.
“If you check the last two games, I was 1-for-7, 2-for-8 … pretty bad games in my opinion,” Prince said. “I was due for a good game.”
But the Hawks got little help from point guard Dennis Schroder, who leads the team with 19.9 points per game. Schroder scored only 14 against the Raptors and was 6-for-20 from the field and 0-for-3 on 3s.
The Trail Blazers may be without reserve Noah Vonleh, who has missed the last two games with a dislocated finger on his right hand. The Hawks remain without forward Mike Muscala, who is on a G League rehab assignment, and forward Luke Babbitt continues to deal with back issues that kept him out again on Friday.
Atlanta did get center Dewayne Dedmon back on the active roster Friday, although he did not play. Dedmon has been out since Nov. 25 with a left tibia stress fracture.
“Getting back on the court is a good feeling,” Dedmon said. “I’ve been counting down the days.”
Portland and Atlanta split the two-game series last year, with each winning on the other’s home court.