USA TODAY Sports
The Hawks fell to the Blazers 104-93 due to a poor fourth quarter performance and poor defense as they allowed Wes Matthews to score 28 points.
Defensive breakdowns and poor shot selection, especially late, were the deciding factor in the 104-93 loss for the Hawks as they allowed Portland to score 31 points in the fourth quarter. The two teams were tied at the half 45-45 and the Hawks jumped out to as much as an 11 point lead in the third quarter, but fourth quarter struggles at both ends of the floor let the game slip away from Atlanta.
Wes Matthews had 28 points to lead all scorers and shot 5-of-8 from the three point line, and scored 14 points to help the Blazers comeback in the third quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 13 rebounds and Damian Lillard had 22 points, with eight coming in the fourth quarter. Most of Portland's offense came from the paint and behind the three-point arc as they scored 48 points in the paint and shot 10-of-18 (55.6%) from the three-point line. After the game, Hawks head coach Larry Drew pointed to the defensive breakdowns as the Hawks' biggest issue.
"We have turned into a team that's trying to outscore people, which is not who we are. It's not who we want to be...We're not a team that can just constantly put points on the board and outscore people. Tonight our defense let us down. We did not do a good job. We had too many breakdowns across the board."
As for the offense, it wasn't much better for Atlanta. The Hawks shot just 44.6% from the field and a dismal 7-of-24 (29.2%) from behind the arc. The only players that shot 50% or better were Jeff Teague (8-for-11), Ivan Johnson (3-for-4), and Dahntay Jones (1-for-2). Josh Smith scored 24 points along with 10 rebounds, but it took him 21 shots (making nine) to get there. Smoove was having a very solid night from the field through the first three quarters, but went 0-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter including a few ill advised long jumpers.
Al Horford had a big night on the glass grabbing 17 rebounds and added 15 points for his 40th double-double of the season, but he seemed out of rhythm offensively shooting just 7-of-18 from the field. Kyle Korver also had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night going just 2-for-7 for six points, but did extend his consecutive games with a made three-point basket to 62.
The prevailing thought in the locker room after the game was that they had let a game the should have won slip away. As Drew said, "We had an opportunity to gain some ground on some teams that lost tonight, but we did not take advantage of that, and that is the most disappointing thing. Now we have to go out on the road and we have to make this game up."
The Hawks will head out tomorrow on a four-game road trip that begins Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee and ends next Friday night in Boston. Three of the four games come against fellow Eastern Conference playoff teams (Bucks, Pacers, and Celtics) and the outcome of the road trip could have major playoff seeding implications.