Blazers top Hawks to end skid

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PORTLAND, Ore. — LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a left ankle injury and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 97-77 on Saturday night to snap a four-game home losing streak.

Nicolas Batum had 22 points, including a decisive dunk in the fourth quarter that made it 82-63. The Trail Blazers avoided losing five straight at home since the 2005-06 season. They also ended a six-game losing streak to the Hawks.

Joe Johnson had 19 points for Atlanta, and Josh Smith added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Hawks have lost six of their past nine games.

Aldridge, Portland's top scorer who will play in his first All-Star game next weekend, sprained his left ankle Tuesday night in a loss at home to Washington. He started and had eight points and three assists in the first 10 minutes.

The Blazers were motivated from the start and took a 24-17 lead on Batum's put-back layup. Gerald Wallace extended the lead to 12 at 31-19 with a 3-pointer.

Raymond Felton capped the first half with a running jumper that made it 52-37 at the break. Atlanta made just three field goals in the second quarter to help out Portland.

The Blazers pushed the lead to 19 points midway through the third quarter when Felton hit a 3-pointer to make it 61-42.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan has shuffled the starting lineup of late, as the team dealt with Aldridge's injury and losses in five of its previous seven games.

Batum has started the last four games and has been in double figures in all of them. His 3-pointer as the game drew to a close made it 92-72.

Portland was coming off a dismaying 74-71 loss at the Rose Garden to the Los Angeles Clippers, during which the Blazers blew an 18-point third-quarter lead.

Felton, who went scoreless against the Clippers, had 14 points and eight assists against the Hawks.

Johnson was wearing a soft brace on his left knee because of tendinitis, but it didn't appear to cause him too much trouble. Coach Larry Drew said Johnson tried to rest it over the past few days while the Hawks had a break in the schedule.


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