Portland snaps three-game losing streak
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 visiting Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks, 100-85, last night to end a three-game losing streak.
"It felt good to be back," Aldridge said. "I didn't feel 100 percent but I did what I could do and luckily I made shots."
Lillard said Aldridge, who posted his team-leading 37th double-double of the season, made the difference.
"We're a whole different team with him," Lillard said. "He's 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 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.
Atlanta's Kyle Korver missed his fifth straight game because of back spasms and center Pero Antic sat out after he twisted his right ankle at Minnesota.
In other games* At Dallas, Chris Paul scored 31 points, Blake Griffin added 18 points and 13 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Mavericks, 109-103.
The Clippers swept the contentious three-game series with second-half rallies in each game. Yesterday, the teams combined for six technical fouls charged to players on the floor, three on each team.
* At Milwaukee, Brandon Knight scored 30 points, Ramon Sessions added 22 and the Bucks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-105, to break an eight-game losing streak. The Lakers played without Pau Gasol, who was out with vertigo for the second straight game, and Steve Nash, who has missed 18 of the team's last 19 games with nerve irritation.
In Bucks news, forward Ersan Ilyasova is likely to miss the rest of the season because of a sore right ankle.