Hawks-Trail Blazers Preview


After a productive start to the season, the Atlanta Hawks have appeared to lose their scoring touch in the last three games. A matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers might help them regain it.

The visiting Hawks will try to take advantage of Portland's defensive woes and avoid a third consecutive loss Monday night.

Atlanta topped 100 points in each of its first two games, recording a 104-95 victory at Oklahoma City without Josh Smith on Nov. 4. The Hawks pulled out an 89-86 win over Indiana three days later but haven't gotten enough scoring over the last two games.

They recorded a season low for points in the opener of a four-game West Coast trip, an 89-76 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Only three players reached double figures with Smith scoring a team-best 13.

Lou Williams and Al Horford had 11 apiece for Atlanta, which committed 22 turnovers and was 7 of 16 from the free-throw line. Smith was 0 for 4 at the stripe, where he's shooting 14.3 percent (2 for 14) this season.

The Hawks (2-3) scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter, their fewest in a final period and second-fewest in any quarter this season.

"I thought our guys followed our game plan for 2 1/2 quarters. But midway into the third, it was like we totally forgot what had put us in the position we were in and we abandoned it," coach Larry Drew said.

Drew's club will seek a better effort against what's been one of the worse defensive teams in the league. Portland (2-4) is allowing a Western Conference-worst 104.3 points per game and has given up an average of 109.7 points on 57.3 percent shooting during a three-game losing streak.

"We've just got to be more deliberate, more attention to detail in some of our coverages and we've got to get back to work," coach Terry Stotts said.

The Blazers couldn't hold a 14-point lead Saturday in a 112-109 loss to visiting San Antonio despite getting a career high-tying 33 points from Nicolas Batum and a season-best 29 from LaMarcus Aldridge.

"For a young team, one of the hardest things is to learn how to win games late," said Aldridge, who also matched a career high with seven assists and blocked four shots. "I think that's the transition we're going through right now."

Portland didn't need to pull out a late victory in Atlanta's most recent visit to the Rose Garden on Feb. 18. The Blazers routed the Hawks 97-77 to snap a six-game losing streak in the series.

Batum scored 22 points in that victory while Aldridge had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Aldridge also recorded a double-double (20 points and 11 boards) in Atlanta on Jan. 18, but the Hawks prevailed 92-88 with help from Smith's 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Smith has posted five consecutive double-doubles against the Blazers, averaging 15.8 points and 12.0 rebounds.

Atlanta hasn't dropped three straight in the regular season since Feb. 18-22.