Blazers catch fire, rally past Hawks

ATLANTA — The Portland Trail Blazers credit improved defense for back-to-back road wins that have kept their playoff hopes alive.

The Atlanta Hawks say they must revive their defense to have any hopes of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Wesley Matthews scored 28 points to lead three Blazers with at least 20 points and Portland beat the Hawks 104-93 Friday night for their second road win in as many nights.

Damian Lillard scored 22 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 13 rebounds, giving him at least 20 points in seven straight games. Aldridge scored 28 points in the Blazers' 99-89 win at Chicago on Thursday night.

"We've been playing a lot better defense in the last two games," Lillard said.

The Hawks and Bulls are fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference standings. Atlanta trails fourth-place Brooklyn by 21/2; games in the race for home-court advantage in the first round.

"That was a quality road win against a very good playoff team," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "I was very pleased with our defense, particularly in the second half. With back-to-back wins like this on the road against Chicago and Atlanta, I'm very proud of my team."

The Blazers are 10th in the Western Conference, three games behind the eighth-place Lakers.

"We're going to keep on fighting until we're mathematically eliminated," Matthews said.

The Hawks led by 11 points in the third quarter before Matthews rallied the Trail Blazers.

"This team never quits playing, whether during a game or during the course of a season," Stotts said.

The Hawks completed a disappointing 1-2 homestand. Josh Smith led Atlanta with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Jeff Teague scored 21 points and Al Horford added 15 points with 11 rebounds.

The Blazers made 10 of 18 3-pointers, including five of eight by Matthews and four of five by Lillard. Nine of the 3-pointers came in the second half.

Hawks coach Larry Drew said that was proof his defense wasn't doing the job.

"That's breakdown. That's major, major breakdown," he said. "We've got to get back to that blue-collar mentality with our defense. We've got to get back to an almost training camp-like attitude."

Horford said the Hawks must regroup in their final 13 regular-season games.

"We just had too many defensive breakdowns," Horford said. "I told the guys we just have to figure out who we are and where we are at this point of the year.

"By this point of the year, I think we should know. Now we have these games that are remaining to put it together."

Drew said the Hawks have "turned into a team which is trying to outscore people" instead of making defensive stops.

J.J. Hickson also posted a double-double for Portland with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Portland led 52-51 early in the third quarter before Smith's basket on a pass from Horford started a 15-3 run for the Hawks. Smith had two jams — each set up by Teague — in the run, which left the Hawks leading 66-55.

Stotts called two timeouts during Atlanta's run. The Blazers began their comeback following the second timeout with 5:26 remaining in the third period.

The Blazers' only points during Atlanta's run came on a 3-pointer by Matthews. The third-year guard from Marquette added a jumper and two more 3s in a stretch of 11 straight points for Portland, cutting the Hawks' lead to 76-73 at the end of the third period.

Portland went up 82-78 with a 9-0 run early in the final period. The Hawks came no closer than two points the rest of the way.

Heat 103, Pistons 89

At Phoenix, LeBron James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and the Miami Heat extended their winning streak to 25 games by pulling away in the second half and beating the Detroit Pistons.

Kyle Singler turned in a solid performance in defeat for Detroit, scoring 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with eight rebounds — five coming on the offensive end.

Wizards 103, Lakers 100

At Los Angeles, Trevor Ariza hit a career-high seven 3-pointers on his way to 25 points, John Wall added 24 and Washington rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat Los Angeles in Kobe Bryant's return from a two-game absence with a sprained left ankle.

Wall had 16 assists, and Nene scored 15 points for the Wizards, who won their second straight while improving to 7-26 on the road.

Thunder 97, Magic 89

At Orlando, Fla., Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook had 19 points and Oklahoma snapped a two-game skid by beating Orlando.

Knicks 99, Raptors 94

At Toronto, Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, Kenyon Martin added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and New York clinched a playoff berth by sending Toronto to its third straight loss.

Martin shot 9 of 10 from the field and didn't miss until 1:40 remained in the game, J.R. Smith scored 14 points and the Knicks earned their 41st win. That guaranteed they'll reach the playoffs for the third straight season.

Spurs 104, Jazz 97, OT

At San Antonio, Tony Parker had 22 points in his return from an eight-game absence, Tim Duncan added 19 points and 16 rebounds and San Antonio sent Utah to its third straight loss.

Kawhi Leonard added 21 points, including five in overtime, and Danny Green had 15 points for San Antonio, which remains 21/2; games ahead of Oklahoma City in the West.

Mavericks 104, Celtics 94

At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Shawn Marion had a double-double in his return from a calf injury to spoil Jason Terry's return to Dallas.

Terry scored eight in his first game in Dallas since leaving for Boston in free agency. He was the latest key piece the Mavericks decided not to keep since beating Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals.

Pacers 102, Bucks 78

At Indianapolis, Tyler Hansbrough had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead Indiana to its third straight win.

Paul George added 20 points and had Roy Hibbert had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks for the Pacers.

Rockets 116, Cavaliers 78

At Houston, James Harden scored 20 points, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik added 13 apiece and Houston routed cold-shooting Cleveland.

Thomas Robinson scored 15 points and Greg Smith grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds off the bench for the Rockets, who stayed in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. Asik also grabbed 11 rebounds for Houston, which has won four of five games on its current homestand.

Hornets 90, Grizzlies 83

At New Orleans, Robin Lopez had 23 points, including a key putback and a pair of free throws in the final 1:11, and New Orleans won its second straight.

Lopez also had 10 rebounds for New Orleans, Anthony Davis added 18 points and 15 boards, and Greivis Vasquez had 12 points and nine assists.


Marc Gasol had 16 points for the Grizzlies, while Zach Randolph added 14 and Jerryd Bayless 12.

Timberwolves 117, Suns 86

At Phoenix, Andrei Kirilenko scored 20 points and Minnesota routed slumping Phoenix to snap a nine-game road losing streak.

Reserve Dante Cunningham added 18 points, Greg Stiemsma had 14 and four others were in double figures for the Timberwolves.


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