The Atlanta Hawks continued their unlikely surge to the top of the Eastern Conference Saturday, when they topped the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center, 115-107. It was Portland’s first home loss since Nov. 28. 

The Blazers have been shorthanded with Robin Lopez missing from the lineup, but with fill-in center Joel Freeland in foul trouble most of the night before injuring his shoulder and leaving the game for good in the fourth quarter, Atlanta was able to get whatever they wanted offensively at the rim. 

Paul Millsap was the biggest beneficiary, posting 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting, but even that stat line doesn’t depict how easy it was for the 6’8″ forward to succeed against the Blazers, who had the second-best defensive efficiency in the NBA entering Saturday. 

Jeff Teague added 22 points and six assists, while Kyle Korver bounced back from a slow start to register four threes, 14 points and eight boards. Thabo Sefolosha put together a great all-around game, going for 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals. 

Portland’s early turnover issues—they gave it away 18 times—granted Atlanta with countless chances early on that allowed them to build an early lead. The advantage ballooned to 20 in the third, before the Blazers went on a number of ill-fated runs to steal back the lead.

LaMarcus Aldridge put together a 30-point game in addition to his 12 boards, and despite totaling just 16 points, Damian Lillard contributed several key buckets, including a 30-foot, running buzzer-beater to end the third quarter. Wes Matthews contributed four threes and Nicolas Batum scored 16. 

Now with a full game advantage over the Toronto Raptors in the East standings, the Atlanta Hawks will look to complete a sweep of their Western Conference trip Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Portland Trail Blazers look to rebound that night against the Los Angeles Lakers at home. 

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