Blazers' Damian Lillard (hamstring) planning on returning to action on Tuesday

The away team were without their best player in Damian Lillard, and without his knockdown shooting and general ballhandling wizardry, the Blazers were left with a rather toothless attack that the Hawks thoroughly sussed out with a great defensive effort on Lillard's backcourt mate C.J. McCollum.

Lillard has not played since Dec. 20 due to a hamstring injury, so he was not dressed for the game.

Atlanta ranks 21st in points in the paint per game (41.8) while Portland ranks 25th (40.8).

"It starts with us always talking about getting back in transition, getting our defense set, taking care of the ball, not adding fuel to their fast break, and then rebounding, which was obviously an issue late for us (Sunday) night". Most likely, the same thing occurs when CJ is out. Those 20 games in Portland last season are starting to look more and more like an anomaly. A technical foul was called on Portland's Shabazz Napier early in the second quarter after he elbowed Atlanta's Isaiah Taylor.

Nearly half of Portland's game this season have come down to the wire. The fact that he turns the ball over at a high rate (2.8 per game) and doesn't stretch the floor by shooting 3-pointers also hurts. Dennis Smith Jr. scored 11 of his 19 points in the final 1:39 of the fourth quarter in a thriller against OKC.

Portland comes into the contest with records of 18-16 straight up (SU) and 16-15-3 against the spread (ATS).

Still, Portland fell to 18-17, and the Hawks improved to 10-26. Jerryd Bayless made a 3-pointer on the other end — but it was later ruled no good because of a shot clock violation.

Nurkic finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Portland won its fourth straight against the Sixers at the Moda Center. On the season, Portland has defeated opponents by an average of 1.4 points.

But even with the disappointing results that December produced, the Blazers find themselves in a better place than they've been in previous years. But since forward Nikola Mirotic has returned from the facial injuries sustained in a preseason fight with teammate Bobby Portis, Chicago is 10-3 and one of the hottest teams in the league.

Head to head, the under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings, the road team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings and the Trailblazers are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Chicago.

The Celtics are now 30-10 (they went 63-25 in regular season play during the 2017 calendar year).

Jusuf Nurkic, Al-Farouq Aminu and several others have missed games this season with minor injuries.

QUOTABLE: "We just need to be accountable". It might be time to establish his role on the team as a rebounder and defender. Ersan Ilyasova and Tyler Cavanaugh added 13 points apiece while Taurean Prince scored 12 by draining 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

76ers: The Sixers beat the Blazers 101-81 in Philadelphia on Nov. 22.

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