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Trail Blazers v. Hawks preview: Portland looks to reverse fortunes in Atlanta

01/17/12
  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    The Portland Trail Blazers turned around their recent fortunes Monday, breaking a three-game losing streak with an 84-77 win in New Orleans.

    Wednesday in Atlanta, the team will look to turn around a more long-term trend. The Hawks have won the last five games between the two teams, the longest active winning streak of any team against the Trail Blazers, including a 2-0 series sweep last season.

    Wednesday night's game can be seen locally on CSN and nationally on ESPN starting at 5 PM. 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the radio call.

    Atlanta (10-4) is riding a three-game winning streak, the latest a 93-84 win over Toronto Monday, and sits percentage points behind Orlando for the top spot in the Eastern Conference Southeast division.

    The Hawks have been led by shooting guard Joe Johnson with 18.5 points per game, followed by forward Josh Smith with 17 points and just more than nine rebounds per contest.

    Smith pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds Monday against Toronto and has been particularly effective scoring the basketball lately, averaging more than 22 points in his last seven games.

    Portland (8-5) will hope that Jamal Crawford can recover from his recent shooting woes in the familiar confines of Philips Arena. Crawford played 155 games for Atlanta from 2009-11 and was the highest scorer on either team in last season's series between the Trail Blazers and Hawks with a 21.5 point average including 50 percent shooting (8-16) from beyond the arc.

    For Crawford, the Trail Blazers formula for building on the win over the Hornets and increasing the effectiveness of the team's play is a simple one.

    "Playing as a team, continuing to have each other's back, continuing to stay aggressive. Not over think things, just play," he said after the win in New Orleans Monday.

    The Hawks will look to veterans Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse off the bench and have platooned Jason Collins and Vladimir Radmonovic in the starting five since the recent injury to starting center Al Horford (torn left pectoral muscle).

    Portland center Marcus Camby is still listed as day-to-day with a left ankle sprain and the time frame for his return to the starting lineup remains unclear. In his absence the Trail Blazers have turned to Kurt Thomas, who scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds in his second start Monday in New Orleans.

    Notes:

    • The Hawks have won fi ve straight games against the Trail Blazers for the first time since a six-game win streak in the series from 1995-97.
    • Portland went 13-1 against the Hawks from 2002-2009 prior to Atlanta’s current five-game streak.
    • Despite Atlanta’s 90-83 win last season at the Rose Garden on Feb. 27, the Trail Blazers have won nine of the past 12 meetings in Portland.
    • Each team is looking for its 50th win in the series, which stands as a 49-49 tie. Each team also owns a 32-17 home record in the series.
    • LaMarcus Aldridge led all Trail Blazers in the 2010-11 series against Atlanta with 20.5 points (83.3% FT) in two games. Aldridge tied a career high by dishing seven assists on March 12 at Atlanta last season. Wesley Matthews added 15.5 points on 50.0 percent field goal shooting in two contests.

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