ATLANTA (AP) -- Portland coach Terry Stotts and his staff were having an informal meeting in the hallway outside their locker room when LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a postgame TV interview.
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 Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 100-85 on Thursday 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."
Damian Lillard added 21 points for the Trail Blazers, who had lost seven of 10 and were in danger of falling out of the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.
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
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