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Hawks 105, Trail Blazers 99

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ATLANTA — A giant number 18 flashed on the scoreboard. Fans were dancing in the stands. The red-hot Atlanta Hawks have turned Philips Arena into an all-out party.

All-Star forward Paul Millsap led six Hawks in double-figures, fueling Atlanta’s 18th straight win, a 105-99 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.

The Hawks survived a 37-point performance from Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge to notch their ninth straight win at home and 12th straight over a Western Conference foe. Atlanta (39-8) is undefeated in January.

The Hawks tied the 1969-70 New York Knicks, 1981-82 Boston Celtics and 1995-96 Chicago Bulls with 18-game win streaks.

The Blazers took a 74-69 lead into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold off a closing surge by the Hawks. A 3-pointer by forward Mike Scott tied the game, 76-76, with 10 minutes to play. Scott followed it up with a breakaway dunk that caused Philips Arena to erupt.

Korver and Millsap also hit 3-pointers in the fourth, helping Atlanta take control. Millsap’s three put the Hawks up 97-91 with 3:34 to play and caused Portland to call timeout.

Fans were on their feet from that point on, transforming Philips Arena into a raucous environment that hasn’t been seen in Atlanta since Dominque Wilkins was rocking the old Omni decades ago. The chant of “Let’s go Hawks!” was deafening as Atlanta came out of a timeout in the final seconds up 103-99.

A sloppy turnover by Atlanta forward Al Horford gave Portland an opportunity, but Portland guard Wesley Matthews missed a corner three, and guard Korver out-scrapped the Blazers for a loose ball. Korver then hit two free throws to ice the win.

Horford finished with 17 points, and Korver added 16.

Hawks point guard Jeff Teague had a big all-around game, scoring 13 points with eight rebounds and seven assists to help Atlanta overcome Aldridge’s barrage.

A week ago, it looked like Aldridge would be gone for an extended period with a left thumb injury. Initial estimates had him out for two months, after surgery. But the free-agent-to-be elected to put surgery on hold and returned to the lineup after missing only one game. It’s looked like a good decision to this point. He had 21 points at half on 9-of-12 shooting the help the Blazers take a 51-50 lead into halftime.

Matthews had 16 for the Blazers, and point guard Damian Lillard finished with 13 on 6-of-20 shooting.

The Hawks played without starting forward DeMarre Carroll and lost his replacement, forward Thabo Sefolosha, early in the first quarter. Sefolosha suffered a right calf strain on a drive to the basket and limped off to the locker room. He was unable to return.

Guard Kent Bazemore got extended minutes, in the absence of Carroll and Sefolosha, and chipped in 12 points, including a deep 3-pointer as the shot clock expired late in the third quarter.

The Hawks’ bench outscored Portland’s reserves 38-18.

NOTES: Hawks Fs Al Horford and Paul Millsap and PG Jeff Teague were selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, marking the first time since 1980 that Atlanta put three players on the team. … Portland PG Damian Lillard was perhaps the most notable omission from the Western Conference All-Star team. … Trail Blazers F Nicolas Batum, who is battling a sprained right wrist, was in the starting lineup. … Hawks F DeMarre Carroll was held out of the game with a strained left Achilles.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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