Trail Blazers Make Amends By Blowing Out Hawks At Home

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- When the Trail Blazers and Hawks faced off less than a week ago in Atlanta, Portland gave up a double-digit lead in the second half on the way to arguably their worst loss of the season.

They weren’t about to let the same thing happen in the rematch on their home court.

After taking a six-point lead into the intermission, the Trail Blazers outscored the Hawks by 15 points in the second half to come away with a 110-89 blowout victory in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 Friday night at the Moda Center.

“I was really pleased with primarily the second half,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I thought the first half was solid but our focus and energy in the third quarter was really good, got hands on a lot of balls, got out in transition. Surprisingly (Atlanta) went small and we stayed with the lineup we had and kind of broke it open, which was good to see. It’s nice to have one of these at home.”

With the victory, the Trail Blazers improve to 20-18 overall and 9-10 at home this season. The Blazers and Hawks have now split their 2017-18 season series 1-1.

The Trail Blazers, coming off two of their best offensive performances of the season, looked like the better team from the start of Friday’s contest. After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, Portland went on a 12-2 run to take a 20-12 lead before taking a 30-22 advantage into the second quarter.

Portland took a 14-point lead after a Zach Collins free throw with 9:43 to play in the first half gave the home team a 38-24 advantage. But Atlanta would outscore Portland 22-9 over the next seven minutes to cut the lead to 47-46 with 2:27 to play in the second quarter, and at that point, it felt like perhaps the Trail Blazers were going to squander another opportunity to get an easy victory against the team with the worst record in the NBA.

But after turning the ball over 11 times for 16 Atlanta points in the first half, Portland took much better care of the ball in the second half, resulting in far fewer easy opportunities for the road team. Between committing just seven turnovers and shooting 55 percent from the field in the third and 50 percent in the fourth, the Trail Blazers were able to go up by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter before putting in the bench and still coasting to a 21-point victory.

“I just thought we tightened up," said Damian Lillard, who sat out of the first game versus Atlanta with a right hamstring strain. "To start the third quarter, we came out right. We got our hands on balls, we contested shots, we continued to get to spots and share the ball offensively and we was able to sustain that."

TOP SCORERS

Seven Trail Blazers finished Friday night’s game in double figures for just the second time this season. CJ MCollum led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-6 from three for 20 points to go with six assists, four rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.

Damian Lillard, playing in his second game since returning from a right hamstring strain, went 6-of-15 from the field and 2-of-6 from three for 14 points, six assists, two steals and a block in 29 minutes.

Jusuf Nurkić came one rebound short of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds while also handing out three assists in 23 minutes.

Ed Davis went 5-of-6 from the field for a season-high 12 points to go with five rebounds in 18 minutes. Pat Connaughton added 11 points three rebounds and two assists and Evan Turner went 4-of-5 for 10 points.

LISTEN UP

QUOTABLE

“It’s three games in a row where our passing has been improved and we’ve just got to continue that. Our passing has been below average for most of the season, so it’s encouraging between Chicago and Cleveland and tonight, that we’re making some passes. That being said, I thought our turnovers in the first half – we had 11 and a lot of those led to their offense. But the assists were there all night.” -- Terry Stotts on Portland's recent improvement in ball movement

NOTABLE

• Portland’s 21-point margin of victory makes tonight’s win the second-largest victory of the season (48, 10/18/17 at Phoenix).

• The Trail Blazers had seven players score in double figures for the second time this season (10/28/17 vs. Phoenix).

• Portland outscored Atlanta in the paint, 48-34, and in fast break points, 16-9.

• The Trail Blazers out-rebounded the Hawks, 44-39.

• Portland shot 43-of-80 from the field (53.8%), the second-best team field goal percentage of the season.

• The Trail Blazers recorded an assist on 30 of their 43 field goals, the most assists the team has had this season.

• Portland shot 13-of-30 (43.3%) from beyond-the-arc. It is the third straight game that the Trail Blazers made at least 13 three-pointers.

NEXT UP

Before heading back out for yet another extended road trip, the Trail Blazers host the San Antonio Spurs for the second time this season Sunday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.