- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

ATLANTA (AP) - Joe Johnson scored 35 points, Josh Smith had 19 points and eight rebounds, and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 98-80 on Sunday for their fifth consecutive victory.

Brandon Roy finished with 29 points for the Blazers, who have lost two of three. Portland dropped a half-game behind Denver for the Northwest Division lead and fell out of a three-way tie with the Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Johnson, who scored 15 points in the third quarter, shot 15-for-27 from the field in his fourth straight 30-point game. He handed out six assists, but missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

Atlanta improved to 25-7 at home. The Blazers have lost seven of eight on the road.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 13 of his 19 points in the third for Portland, which had won three straight and 12 of 13 against Atlanta.

Roy hit seven straight shots from the beginning of the second quarter until he missed a layup that led to Aldridge’s turnover late in the third. The Hawks then began to pull away, with Al Horford’s three-point play with 9:44 left in the period giving them their first double-digit lead at 50-39.

Smith drove past Aldridge and Nicolas Batum for a hard dunk from the left baseline late in the third to give the Hawks an eight-point lead.

Notes:@ Blazers rookie G Rudy Fernandez returned after missing two games with chest and hip injuries. Hospitalized after a foul by the Lakers’ Trevor Ariza last Monday, Fernandez went scoreless in 18 minutes. … The Hawks improved to 12-1 with G Mo Evans in the starting lineup. … Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, who improved to 2-8 against Portland, had no update before the game on the status of F Marvin Williams. After sustaining a severe lower back injury in a March 7 win over Detroit, Williams has missed four straight games.

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