The availability of star point guard Damian Lillard won’t be determined until close to gametime on Saturday as the Portland Trail Blazers visit the Atlanta Hawks. Lillard has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury and is considered questionable to play against the Hawks.
Portland scored just 85 points against Denver in its first game with Lillard on the sidelines before bouncing back for consecutive wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia. CJ McCollum picked up the slack in Thursday’s 114-110 victory over the 76ers by scoring 34 points, hitting all 14 of his free-throw attempts. Atlanta, which owns the worst record in the NBA, lost 111-98 to Toronto on Friday to halt a modest two-game winning streak. “You’re always disappointed when you lose, but I think we competed for most of the game,” Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder told reporters after the loss.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN Northwest (Portland), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (18-16): Fourth-year pro Shabazz Napier has averaged 19.3 points during Lillard’s absence, including efforts of 21 points against the Lakers and 23 versus Philadelphia. Napier fueled the victory over the 76ers by scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter and making 5-of-6 shots from the field. “I just got to continue to play and think positive,” Napier told reporters. “The good thing about basketball is, they say you’ve got another game the next day, but you also have two halves. I felt like I was kind of lethargic out there in the first half. Basically it couldn’t get any worse, so I just went out there and tried to be positive about it and look forward to the next half.”
ABOUT THE HAWKS (9-26): Forward Taurean Prince had the best outing of his 94-game tenure in the NBA by scoring a career-best 30 points on Friday and matching his top effort with five 3-pointers. Prince, who also collected 10 rebounds, was a stellar 12-for-16, including 5-for-6 from 3-point range, after being just 14-for-42 over his previous four games. “Pretty bad games, in my opinion,” Prince told reporters of his shooting woes. “I was due for a good game.”
1. The teams split last season’s two meetings.
2. Schroder scored just 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting against Toronto after averaging 27 during the consecutive victories.
3. Portland C Jusuf Nurkic recorded 21 points and 12 rebounds against the 76ers for his seventh double-double of the season.
PREDICTION: Hawks 103, Trail Blazers 100