Hawks-Trail Blazers Preview
The Portland Trail Blazers are on the verge of their longest
home losing streak in nearly six years. If recent history is any
indication, the Atlanta Hawks are in good position to make that
Atlanta seeks its seventh consecutive win over Portland, which
may be without LaMarcus Aldridge again Saturday night when the
teams meet at the Rose Garden.
The Hawks (19-11) have only three victories during an
inconsistent eight-game stretch overall, but they won for the fifth
time in six road games Wednesday with a 101-99 come-from-behind
victory over Phoenix.
Atlanta trailed by as many as 15, but Josh Smith matched his
season high with 30 points and added 17 rebounds to aid the
Willie Green scored a season-high 20 off the bench, helping the
Hawks overcome an off night from Joe Johnson, who finished 2 for 10
from the field for six points.
“I just wanted to be a little aggressive,” Smith said. “I know
they were keying on Joe and we needed offense somewhere else and me
and Willie picked up the slack tonight.”
Coach Larry Drew lauded Smith, who played nearly 45 minutes.
“(Johnson) said, ‘Leave him out there. He’s young,'” Drew said.
“I thought he was tired and he played (nearly 33 minutes Tuesday
against the Los Angeles Lakers). I wanted to give him a quick blow.
He wanted to stay in and I am glad he did because he played a
phenomenal game. Inside and out and defensively he was all over the
Smith scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Johnson
scored a game-high 24 in a 92-89 home win over Portland on Jan. 18
– the Hawks’ sixth straight win in the series after dropping 13 of
the previous 14 meetings.
Jamal Crawford scored a team-high 22 points off the bench in
that contest for the Blazers (16-15), who blew an 18-point
third-quarter lead Thursday in a 74-71 home loss to the Los Angeles
“It was a collapse. A total collapse,” said Crawford, who along
with Nicolas Batum scored a team-high 19 points. “In the fourth
quarter, it felt like we started playing like we were playing from
behind, and we were up. They became the aggressors. We were the
aggressors the first three quarters.”
Aldridge sat out his second straight game after spraining his
left ankle in Tuesday’s loss to visiting Washington. Portland’s top
scorer is questionable for Saturday’s contest as the Blazers hope
to avoid losing five consecutive home games for the first time
since March 20-April 1, 2006.
Without Aldridge on Thursday – and with the team playing its
third game in as many nights – Portland was outrebounded 47-35
while scoring its fewest points since a 72-65 loss to San Antonio
on April 6, 2008.
The Blazers may look to Crawford – who spent the last two
seasons with Atlanta before signing with Portland as a free agent –
to pick up the scoring slack if Aldridge is sidelined again.
Crawford has averaged 23.2 points in his last five games against
the Hawks, hitting 16 of 30 3-point attempts in that stretch.
Johnson has averaged 25.6 points in his last 10 against the
Blazers, while Smith has four straight double-doubles versus
The Hawks’ recent victories in the series haven’t been blowouts
– the last five meetings were each decided by nine points or