Hawks increase streak to franchise-best 18 with win over Trail Blazers
The Atlanta Hawks keep finding new ways to extend the longest winning streak in franchise history. This time, Kent Bazemore was the surprise star off the bench.
Atlanta overcame 37 points by Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge to win its 18th straight game by overpowering the Trail Blazers in the final period for a 105-99 victory Friday night.
The big lead for each team was only six points. There were four ties in the fourth quarter before the Hawks took the lead for good midway through the period on a basket by Al Horford, who had 17 points.
"We got stops when we needed to and really got into a rhythm offensively," Horford said.
The Hawks overcame a sudden shortage of wing players to keep their streak alive before a sellout crowd.
Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll missed the game with a left Achilles strain. His replacement, Thabo Sefolosha, lasted only two minutes before leaving with a right calf strain.
The Hawks' depth came through again. Bazemore, the team's third option at small forward, didn't miss a beat. Bazemore made his first three shots and finished with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
Bazemore, who usually plays about 12 minutes per game, logged almost 40 minutes.
"With Thabo going down and DeMarre already hurt," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said, "for Kent Bazemore to come in and play the way he did and play as many minutes as he did ... it was just a team effort, everybody contributing."
Another bench player, Mike Scott, added 11 points.
"We're confident in one through 15 here," Horford said. "Guys really put in the time, guys work every day. They just don't get the opportunity because we're so deep."
Portland, which has lost four of five, led after each of the first three quarters but was outscored 36-25 in the final period.
"If I could explain it then it wouldn't happen," Aldridge said of the fourth-quarter letdown. "It's part of the season. We just have to stick with it."
The Hawks have not lost in 2015. The winning streak began after a loss to Milwaukee on Dec. 26.
"They're good," Aldridge said of the Hawks. "We could have played better, but they're good.
"Defensively, they're definitely better than what people think."
Paul Millsap scored 21 points to lead six Atlanta scorers in double figures.
Trail Blazers: Aldridge had a game-high 11 rebounds. Wesley Matthews had 16 points and Damian Lillard had 13 points with 11 assists and six turnovers. ... Portland is 18-5 against the Eastern Conference, including two losses to Atlanta.
Hawks: Atlanta improved to 13-2 against the Western Conference, including a franchise-record 12 straight wins. The Lakers were the last Western Conference team to beat Atlanta — 114-109 at Los Angeles on Nov. 18. ... Attendance was 19,018, a sellout.
Portland coach Terry Stotts was not pleased commissioner Adam Silver on Friday selected Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins instead of Lillard to replace injured Lakers star Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference All-Star team.
"I don't understand why or how he was not voted to the team to begin with," Stotts said. "I don't understand why or how he wasn't named a replacement."
Lillard made only 6 of 20 shots from the field, including only one of nine 3-pointers, but insisted he wasn't pressing.
"I didn't want to go out of my way to try to prove a point," Lillard said. "I just tried to do what I always do to try to give our team a chance to win."
Aldridge, who has continued to play with a torn ligament in his left thumb, again showed why he'll be a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star team. He scored 10 straight points late in the first half, including a turnaround 3-pointer that started the run. He closed the half with a three-point play to give the Trail Blazers a 51-50 lead at the break.
Trail Blazers: At Milwaukee on Saturday.
Hawks: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.