FAST START PORT­LAND SINK AT­LANTA

Trail Blaz­ers go ag­gres­sive in first quar­ter to stymie Hawks

New Straits Times - - Sport - LOS AN­GE­LES

THE Port­land Trail Blaz­ers con­tin­ued their quest to se­cure the fi­nal play­off spot in the West­ern Con­fer­ence with a 113-97 win over At­lanta, that also snapped a five-game los­ing skid to the Hawks.

Port­land, who are try­ing to over­take the Den­ver Nuggets in the post­sea­son race, led by 23 points just 10 min­utes into the game and rolled to vic­tory be­hind 27 points from Damian Lil­lard and 22 from fel­low guard CJ McCol­lum.

“Well, the un­der­state­ment is that the first quar­ter was re­ally an out­stand­ing quar­ter for us at both ends,” Trail Blaz­ers coach Terry Stotts said.

The Trail Blaz­ers, who are 7-2 in March, made 13 of their first 15 from the floor and shot 76 per cent in the first quar­ter to 16 per cent for the Hawks while go­ing up 40-18.

Er­san Ilyasova tal­lied 23 points. He started in place of Paul Mill­sap who ex­pe­ri­enced left knee tight­ness warm­ing up and was a late scratch.

The Trail Blaz­ers, who made 13 of their first 15 from the floor, shot 76 per cent in the first quar­ter to 16 per cent for the Hawks and led 63-46 at half­time.

“It was the first quar­ter that we couldn’t re­cover from,” Hawks coach Mike Bu­den­holzer said.

“I thought we were poor de­fen­sively. I thought we were poor of­fen­sively.”

Else­where, Cody Zeller scored 19 points and the Char­lotte Hor­nets snapped a three-game los­ing streak with a 98-93 win over the Wash­ing­ton Wizards.

The Hor­nets trailed at half­time but built the lead up to as many as nine mid­way through the fourth quar­ter and then held for the vic­tory.

The Wizards got as close as three in the fi­nal 20 sec­onds, but the Hor­nets’ Marvin Wil­liams hit four free throws with less than 10 sec­onds left.

John Wall led the Wizards with 19 points and eight as­sists.

In Den­ver, James Har­den had 40 points, 10 re­bounds and 10 as­sists, and the Hous­ton Rock­ets beat the Den­ver Nuggets 109105.

Har­den has 11 games of 40 or more points and did it on con­sec­u­tive nights. He also notched his 19th triple-dou­ble of the sea­son.

RE­SULTS: Golden State 117 Mil­wau­kee 92, Hous­ton 109 Den­ver 105, Chicago 95 Utah 86, Mem­phis 104 San An­to­nio 96, LA Clip­pers 108 Cleve­land 78, Char­lotte 98 Wash­ing­ton 93, Port­land 113 At­lanta 97, Ok­la­homa City 110 Sacra­mento 94. AFP

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