Carmelo Moves Into 10th In Scoring But Winning Streak Ends In Atlanta

by Casey Holdahl
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The Trail Blazers had their four-game winning streak snapped Monday night with a 123-114 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back in front of a crowd of 3,091 at State Farm Arena.

“This was a tough back-to-back,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was a tough game last night in Boston, the travel obviously. I thought the guys that played the minutes last night and then tonight, they put it all out there.”

The Trail Blazers are now 36-2 overall and 20-13 on the road this season. And after entering Monday’s game in a three-way tie for fifth, the loss drops Portland down to seventh with seven games to play.

“The NBA season is a long season, there’s highs and lows, you’ve got to fight through the tough times,” said Stotts. “I think one of the things that we’ve done in Portland is we’ve kept competing. The fact that we won four-in-a-row on the road, as I said even during the losing streak, is I trust the character of this team. We came out and competed for five games, we won four of them.”

After starting a six-game road trip by winning the first four contests by an average of 17.7 points, the Trail Blazers didn’t seem to have the same level of energy, particularly on the defensive end, Monday night in Atlanta. Perhaps that was due to playing their fifth game in seven nights, their second game in as many nights or the fact that they had to spend some time in a tornado shelter at the hotel Monday morning.

Regardless of the reason, the Blazers simply couldn’t seem to summon the same intensity that had typified the first four stops of the trip.

But while they didn’t have the same pop, they still managed to make a game of it for the first three quarters. But eventually, Atlanta’s assault from the three-point line -- the Hawks scored almost half their points on threes on 48 percent shooting -- was too much for the Trail Blazers to endure. Both Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari netted seven threes, the the former doing his damage in the first half and the later taking over in the second.

“You’ve got to give them credit, Bogdanovic was hot in the first half and Gallinari was hot in the second half,” said Stotts. “Those two guys made the difference from the three-point line. We tried to be aggressive with Young, obviously when you commit two guys to a ball it’s going to open up some opportunities. To be honest, I thought some of their threes were decently contested, so you’ve got to give them credit for shooting the ball really well. But it comes and goes.”

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the third, Portland cut the lead to seven by the start of the fourth quarter. But the Hawks all but put the game away for good early in the fourth, outscoring Portland 14-4 in the first four minutes of the quarter to take a 116-99 lead. If they faced that kind of fourth-quarter deficit to start the trip, perhaps they’re able to pull off another comeback. But given the circumstances, Stotts opted to put in his deep bench down 19 with just over five minutes to play.

“Both teams were scoring and we came out of the locker room saying the first team to defend is going to win this game,” said Damian Lillard. “In the third quarter I thought we had a really solid run going, we had a really good stretch going. They were still making some contested ones, we were scoring as well and then in the fourth quarter they kind of pulled off on us and that was that.”

Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting, eight assists, two steals and two rebounds in 34 minutes. CJ McCollum went 8-of-18 for 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 33 minutes. Norman Powell added 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 32 minutes.

With 14 points, Carmelo Anthony passed Elvin Hayes to move into 10th all-time in NBA history in scoring with 27,318 points.

“This moment is a little bit special,” said Anthony. “The other moments was just coming, it was just fast. It was happening, you have a moment then it’s on to the next game, on to the next thing. Top 10 in anything of all-time is a special moment. I don’t want to take this moment for granted.”

Anthony, in the midst of his 18th NBA season, now trails Moses Malone in ninth all-time with 27,409.

Gallinari led the Hawks with 28 points off the bench in 32 minutes. Bogdanovic finished with 25 points and Trae Young put up a double-double with 21 points and 11 assists in 35 minutes.

The Trail Blazers will now have Tuesday off before facing the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday in the last game of a six-game trip. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.


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