The Blazers (2-5), who once started the season 2-1, are reeling a bit as their weaknesses have been exposed and opponents are now taking advantage. Portland continues to descend in the standings, now 3.5 games back of Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City (6-2).
The Blazers' bench was again unspectacular and their interior presence was basically nonexistent against the Hawks. Portland is now an unimpressive 1-3 at the Rose Garden—once a place feared by opposing teams.
Here are the grades, breakdown and analysis of the Blazers' loss.
Player of the game
J.J. Hickson: 19 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals, 8-14 FG
Hickson's energy kept the Blazers in the game when they struggled mightily at the start.
He totaled seven offensive rebounds, and his 19 points and 18 rebounds were the first time he's achieved those numbers in his career (via the Trail Blazers' PR on Twitter).
Hickson is averaging a double-double this season, and is one of the few bright spots for a season that is spiraling downward a little bit.
Portland grabbed an 87-85 lead with 2:49 left in the game off LaMarcus Aldridge's three-point play.
Unfortunately, those were the final points the Blazers would score for the night. Atlanta went on a 10-0 run to finish off Portland as Al Horford and Jeff Teague combined to score eight points over the final two minutes.
Rookie Damian Lillard again struggled with his outside shot as opposing teams are continuing to pressure him on the perimeter.
Lillard is shooting just 35 percent from the field (21-for-60) over the past four games. He had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists against Atlanta.
With teams starting to adjust to Lillard's game, it's now up to the rookie and the Blazers' coaching staff to counter and make adjustments of their own to allow Lillard to be the player who many believed to be the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award.
Tweets of the Night
Damian Lillard having one of those rookie nights. He's taken unnecessary long 3s, forced a few drives to the hoop and looked rattled.
— Joe Freeman, The Oregonian, November 12, 2012
Just wondering. For all those people three weeks ago telling me how much fun it was going to be to watch this team... Still feel that way?
– Dwight Jaynes, Comcast SportsNet Northwest, November 12, 2012
The #Blazers' first non-sellout attendance count in five years announced as 19,095. Capacity is 19,980.
— Mike Tokito, The Oregonian, November 12, 2012
Final Grade: D
The Blazers' bench was again awful, contributing six points total—well under NBA standards of at least 20 points per game.
Rookie Meyers Leonard led the reserves with a measly four points. What's the answer to the bench problem? At this point, it is what it is.
The starters are doing their part as each scored in double-digits. If Portland could get anything from its bench offensively, it would be above .500.
That said, Atlanta did anything it wanted on offense. It's a familiar theme for the Blazers now, as those wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets to begin the year seem like a distant memory.