Aldridge returns, leads Blazers past Hawks
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a seven-game hiatus and looked like he didn't miss a beat.
Aldridge, who missed the past couple of weeks due to lingering back issues, scored 25 points with 16 rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 100-85 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
"(Aldridge) looked very good," said Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We planned on playing him 32 minutes. I thought he made the most of the minutes he had. Obviously he rebounded the ball extremely well. I liked the way he took the ball to the paint. He competed inside."
Damian Lillard contributed 21 points and Nicolas Batum netted 12 with seven rebounds for the Blazers, who snapped their three-game losing streak.
The Hawks, meanwhile, lost for the fifth straight time and now lead the idle New York Knicks by 1 1/2 games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta was led by Jeff Teague's 22 points and Elton Brand deposited an 11- point, 12-rebound double-double. Louis Williams finished with 16 points off the bench in the setback.
"That's what we're looking for, one win, one break," said Brand. "We'll be fine. We have been playing hard. As long as we compete like we did all season long, we feel like the chips will favor us."
Mo Williams nailed a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Trail Blazers a 22-16 lead at the end of one. Robin Lopez then scored Portland's first seven points to begin the second quarter, part of a 10-2 run to open the frame. Lillard followed Lopez's hook shot with a three to stake the visitors to a 32-18 lead with just over nine minutes left before halftime.
A pair of Paul Millsap free throws trimmed Atlanta's deficit to nine, 42-33, with just over three minutes remaining in the half. Portland proceeded to outscore Atlanta 11-4 over the rest of the second quarter to take a 53-37 margin into the break.
DeMarre Carroll capped a 13-3 run with a 3-pointer at the 7:10 mark of the third quarter that brought the Hawks within six, 58-52. However, Lillard followed with a pair of free throws before knocking down a trey, then Aldridge put back his own miss to push the lead back to double digits.
A Lillard three capped the scoring in the period, with Portland holding a 78-64 lead heading into the fourth.
Louis Williams scored eight points during a 10-0 run that cut the deficit to 80-74 with over eight minutes remaining in the game. A Batum trey minutes later stretched the lead back to 13, 90-77, but Louis Williams followed a Teague jumper with a trey to make it an eight-point game with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
Aldridge responded with two straight buckets that made it a double-digit game once again, and the Blazers held on to halt their late-season skid.
Portland wraps up its five-game road trip at Chicago on Friday ... The win gave the Blazers their first season sweep of Atlanta since taking both meetings in 2007-08 ... Portland owned a 47-39 edge on the boards ... Millsap scored 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting ... Carroll netted 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the setback ... Thomas Robinson scored 10 points off the bench for Portland ... Mo Williams had a game-high 11 assists off the bench for Portland.
03/27 22:49:10 ET