The Atlanta Hawks rode a three game winning streak into a Friday night matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers at State Farm Arena, fresh off of a road win in New Orleans on Tuesday night.
Taurean Prince (foot) was held out of the contest, though it doesn’t appear to be an overly serious issue. Omari Spellman (ankle), Miles Plumlee (knee) and Alex Poythress (ankle) continue to be out as well for Atlanta.
Portland comes into town with injury issues of their own, with starting shooting guard C.J. McCollum (knee) and starting center Jusuf Nurkic (leg) going down in the past couple of weeks. McCollum last played Mar. 16, while Nurkic went down with a gruesome lower body injury Monday against Brooklyn.
Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce elected to go with Justin Anderson in the Prince’s place in the starting lineup, rounding out the opening unit with regulars Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon. Portland head coach Terry Stotts countered with Damian Lillard, Jake Layman, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Enes Kanter.
Atlanta won the tip and started the evening in highlight fashion, with Collins hammering home and lob from Young.
Portland answered with a three-pointer from Lillard, but Young responded quickly with a long three of his own.
Young continued his hot start, getting inside for a couple of floaters, making him responsible for the first nine Atlanta points (the lob to Collins and seven of his own).
Lillard kept cooking early as well, with another three as well as a baseline jumper to give him eight points in the early going. Portland as a whole started 8-for-11 from the floor and a mid-quarter 7-0 run stretched the lead out to nine at the 6:30 mark in the first.
Collins swatted Kanter on Portland’s first possession on offense out of the timeout, leading to a transition dime from Young to Deyonta Davis, who recently inked his second 10-day contract with the Hawks.
Collins was active early on the offensive end in the early moments as well.
John Collins does his I-know-that-rim-is-around-here-somewhere dunk. pic.twitter.com/TuKOuIOVF8— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 29, 2019
Young’s third floater of the contest cut the margin back to six at 25-19 in favor of the Blazers. The rookie point continues to develop his game all over the floor. He scored the next Atlanta basket as well with an 18 foot jumper.
The Hawks got within four late in the period before Seth Curry answered immediately with a three from the wing to extend the deficit back to seven.
Lillard got inside for a layup around the 14 second mark, giving him 18 points in the first quarter. Young also scored 18 points in the twelve first quarter minutes, adding two assists and two rebounds. The 18 first-quarter points is a career high for Young.
Lillard led a dominant Portland attack, with the team shooting 70% from the floor and getting out to a 38-30 lead after one.
Vince Carter cut the the deficit to five at the 7:50 mark in the second with his second three-pointer in the period. The 42 year-old continues to be Atlanta’s best shooting weapon off of the bench.
Portland quickly fired back with a 5-0 run to push the lead back to double-digits.
Young cut the lead back to nine, getting to the rim in transition to give him 20 first-half points. Collins hit a corner three to cut it to six momentarily, but Lillard hit a three to push the margin back to nine on the next Portland possession.
Despite not shooting the ball well in the first start of the season, Anderson made waves on the defensive end of the floor with an astounding rejection on an alley-oop attempt by the Trail Blazers as the second quarter ticked away.
Justin Anderson just killed a dunk attempt. pic.twitter.com/tzdtYdThVu— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 30, 2019
Portland maintained the nine-point lead into halftime, with the Hawks unable to put together enough stops to close the gap. Lillard finished the half with 23 points (9-for-13, 3-for-5 from three-point-range), three assists and two rebounds.
Young was again the story for Atlanta, notching 20 points (7-for-13 from the floor, 5-for-5 from the free-throw line), four assists and three rebounds. Collins finished the first-half of play with nine points and one block.
Anderson broke the seal with a three for Atlanta after they went the first two minutes of play in the third without registering a point. Huerter hit a three on the ensuing Atlanta possession to cut Portland lead to five.
Atlanta came out with energy in the third, with a dunk from Collins (assisted by guess who) keeping them within five after they trailed by as much as 11 in the first half.
Lillard got to the line at the 5:27 mark in the third, making both and pushing the lead back to nine. With Young off the floor, the Hawks were at risk of losing control of the game. Portland extended the run to 16-0 in the ensuing moments, getting out to a 88-67 lead with under four to play in the third. The Hawks went from the 6:20 mark to the 2:24 mark in the third without scoring, going 0-for-7 from the floor over the four-minute stretch.
Portland maintained control of the game through the end of the third, carrying a 14 point lead into the fourth at 90-76.
Young opened the closing period hot again, scoring four points in the early moments. The guests were able to keep pace, however, maintaining their substantial lead into the thick of the final quarter.
The Hawks were unable to close the gap down the stretch, with both teams struggling offensively for the majority of the fourth period.
Lillard finished with 36 points, seven assists and three rebounds, leading the way for the Trail Blazers as he normally does. Aminu finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the metro Atlanta area.
Young finished with 26 points (10-for-25 from the floor, 1-for-8 from three), with nine rebounds and seven assists in 29 minutes of action. Collins added 20 points, with Huerter scoring 11 (5-for-14 from the floor, 1-for-6 from three) to go with his four rebounds and four assists.
The loss halts the brief three game winning streak for Atlanta, who fell to 27-49 with the loss. Portland moves to 48-27, bolstering their chances at home court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Hawks will be back in action Sunday afternoon for a 12:30 PM ET tip against the Milwaukee Bucks and MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.