ATLANTA -- Portland coach Terry Stotts and his staff were having an informal meeting in the hallway outside their locker room when LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a postgame TV interview. Wholesale Cheap Jerseys . The assistants greeted Aldridge with compliments and high fives. Stotts had only one word for his high-scoring forward: "Thanks." Aldridge had 25 points and 16 rebounds in his return after missing seven games with a lower back contusion, and the Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 100-85 on Thursday night to end a three-game losing streak. "It felt good to be back," Aldridge said. "I didnt feel 100 per cent but I did what I could do and luckily I made shots." Damian Lillard added 21 points for the Trail Blazers, who had lost seven of 10 and were in danger of falling out of the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff standings. Lillard said Aldridge, who posted his team-leading 37th double-double of the season, made the difference. "Were a whole different team with him," Lillard said. "Hes our best player. He brings balance to our team. We had an inside presence and we were able to play inside-out, like we have all year. I just think with him out there we just got more quality shots. "Having him back allows everybody to fall into place. The game just comes easier for everybody." Aldridge said the win was "very important, just for our mental psyche, our confidence ... the standings." The Hawks have lost five straight. They lead the Knicks by only 1 1/2 games in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Jeff Teague, who was scoreless in Wednesday nights loss at Minnesota, led the Hawks with 22 points. Lou Williams had 16 points, including 13 in the final period when Atlanta closed the deficit to six points. Atlantas Kyle Korver missed his fifth straight game because of back spasms and centre Pero Antic sat out after he twisted his right ankle at Minnesota. The Trail Blazers led 53-37 at halftime. The Hawks narrowly avoided their season low for points in the opening half. Atlanta opened the second half with a 15-5 run, capped by DeMarre Carrolls 3-pointer, to trim the lead to 58-52. Williams had eight points in Atlantas 10-0 run that again cut Portlands lead to six points at 80-74. A three-point play by Aldridge pushed the lead back to double digits at 87-76. Korver, the 3-point specialist, has not played since March 18, when Atlanta beat Toronto for its fifth straight win. The Hawks have not won since losing Korver. Its only the latest in a string of ugly losing streaks for Atlanta the last two months. Atlanta has lost 19 of 25 and had streaks of eight and six straight losses in that span before the latest slump. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said "there were stretches where we really competed" against the Trail Blazers. "We cut some leads and got it to six at one point," Budenholzer said. "The whole group, in trying times and trying circumstances, has given a lot. Jeff Teagues energy throughout the game allowed us to be close. Were finding ourselves. We need to be disciplined and focused. In those stretches where were not, it can hurt us and it can bite us." Portland closed each of the first three periods with 3-pointers -- by Mo Williams, Wesley Matthews and Lillard. Officials needed a review to confirm there was time remaining in the first half when Matthews launched his long 3. Nicolas Batum had 12 points for Portland and Robin Lopez and Matthews each had 11. Mo Williams had 11 assists and eight points. NOTES: The Trail Blazers, who beat Atlanta 102-78 in Portland on March 5, won their first season series over the Hawks since the 2007-08 season. ... Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson attended the game. ... Elton Brand had 11 points and 12 rebounds as the fill-in starter for Antic... The Hawks season low for first-half points was 34 against San Antonio on Jan. 24. ... The Hawks are 10-20 against the Western Conference. Jeff Walker Jersey Retro . Setting United on its way to a 2-0 victory, Rooney sent the ball high from inside the halfway line over goalkeeper Adrian after just seven minutes. "Its just instinct, Ive turned and had a quick look and seen the goalkeeper off his line," Rooney said. Matt Szymanski Jersey Retro . Louis Blues and back into top spot of the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings. The Sharks had been ranked No. PITTSBURGH -- Since Jerome Bettis retired after the 2005 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have searched for a big, bruising running back in his mould. The list of hopefuls has been long, if not particularly distinguished. Verron Haynes, Najee Davenport, Carey Davis, Gary Russell, Frank Summers, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman all failed to consistently provide production in short-yardage and goal line situations. Enter LeGarrette Blount. The 6-foot, 250-pound veteran certainly looks the part. And while he has a long way to go to be mentioned with the likes of Bettis, there have been plenty of flashes during his four seasons in the league. Blount averaged 5.0 yards per carry while splitting time with Stevan Ridley in New England last season, and gashed the Indianapolis Colts for 166 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs. Though second-year back LeVeon Bell remains the starter, Blount is confident he can make an impact no matter what situation. "I know they brought me in here to run the football, so I hope there are plenty of carries to go around," Blount said Wednesday. "I know that LeVeon is going to get his fair share, so I hope theres enough for all of us." Bell, last years second-round pick, missed the opening three games while recovering from a preseason foot injury. But he still played nearly 700 snaps, a heavy workload the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Bell managed with ease. Still, the Steelers will find opportunities to go from the patient and pragmatic Bell to the bruising Blount, with the emphasis on bruising. "Thats my running style," Blount said. "Thats how I run the football, and I feel like (Bell) is also a big, tough running back, too. So, thats just how this team is built, with a physical running game, and I think thats what theyre trying to get back to. So, hopefully, we can do that." Blount noted a balannced offence is needed to make a run to the Super Bowl such as the ones by Seattle and Denver last year. Buy Cheap Jerseys. The champion Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch running the ball and Russell Wilson throwing it, while the Broncos ran the ball with Knowshon Moreno when Peyton Manning wasnt breaking NFL passing records. "I think its huge for us to (sign Blount), because Ive always said that we need to be a balanced offence," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "So, we need to run the ball. We need to be great at running the ball, and weve got guys that want to be great at running the ball. So, hopefully, we can do it and do it successfully." Blount added that while his body type and size make him an ideal power back, he has a variety of skill sets, such as catching the football and running away from defenders in the open field. But he certainly has proven he can run over them as well. Those attributes, combined with Bells slashing style, should give the Steelers a solid one-two punch. "I think we have a really good mix of running backs," Blount said. "(But) Ive seen the NFL Network, and they have these top 10 or top five running back duos in the NFL. I noticed that were not one of them, and I dont like it. In all honesty, I believe theyre downgrading the skill level that we have in our backfield. . I think thats kind of disrespectful." Does that mean Blount and Bell have something to prove? "Were not going to go out here and go on about how were not in that group," Blount said. "But were going to go out there and show that we belong there with our performance." NOTES: RB Dri Archer has missed the opening two OTAs, just like linebacker Jordan Zumwalt from UCLA, because his school is on the quarters system and their class has not yet graduated. . OTAs continue Thursday and also run Tuesday through Thursday next week. ' ' '
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