Trail Blazers-Hawks Preview
Facing some of the league’s top teams, the Atlanta Hawks keep
After another ugly second-half performance, the Hawks will try
to avoid losing their fifth straight for the first time in three
years Saturday night when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
Atlanta (37-28) matched its longest losing streak of the season
with a 94-76 loss at Chicago on Friday. The Hawks, who have dropped
four straight for the first time since November, scored only 26
points and shot 31.3 percent after halftime, continuing a
Atlanta is averaging 38.5 points and shooting 38.2 percent in
the second half during its skid, which also includes defeats to
playoff contenders Oklahoma City and New York.
Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 16 points Friday while Josh Smith
added 15 and Jamal Crawford scored 14. Smith and Crawford, however,
combined for six points after the break.
The losing streak has left Atlanta just 2 1/2 games ahead of
sixth-place New York and three games in front of seventh-place
Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks haven’t lost five
in a row since a six-game slide Feb. 8-20, 2008.
“We still have a lot more basketball left,” Johnson said. “We’ve
just got to stay positive and get out of this little rut we’re
Johnson has been in a rut individually as well, averaging 13.7
points in his last three games – well off his 18.9 season mark.
A visit from the Trail Blazers might help him and his teammates.
Atlanta has played well against Portland (37-28), defeating the
Blazers 90-83 on Feb. 27 at the Rose Garden for its fourth straight
win in the series. Johnson has averaged 27.8 points during that
streak, and scored 22 while shooting 9 of 16 from the floor in last
Portland (37-28) is trying to bounce back from a 97-92 loss at
Charlotte on Friday, which snapped a four-game winning streak.
Face his former team for the first time since the Bobcats dealt
him to the Blazers last month, Gerald Wallace had 13 points and
nine rebounds but fouled out in the closing seconds.
He wasn’t the only Portland player who failed late. Wesley
Matthews, who finished with 20 points, missed one of two free
throws with 5.6 seconds remaining. Patty Mills missed two more free
throws in the final seconds.
The Blazers, who went 9 of 16 at the line, couldn’t contain
Stephen Jackson, who scored 18 of his 29 points in the fourth
“Of course Jackson got hot, but we play much better than that,”
Portland coach Nate McMillan said.
LaMarcus Aldridge shot 6 of 17 and finished with 15 points. He’d
averaged 24 during the winning streak.
The Blazers are tied with New Orleans for sixth in the West, but
only three games ahead of ninth-place Phoenix.