Jazz holds off late Blazer rally, 86-77

SALT LAKE CITY — When all else fails, the Utah Jazz just clear the way for Al Jefferson.

Jefferson had 21 points, including two one-handed shots in the lane, to help the Jazz beat Portland 86-77 on Friday night.

"You get him the ball in the post one-on-one against anybody in this league and we feel good about our chances," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said.

Paul Millsap added 15 points for the Jazz, who have won eight of their last nine home games.

"We pretty much controlled the whole game," said Jefferson, who had 10 rebounds for his 22nd double-double of the season. "They made a little run and we knew before long they were going to do that."

That little run put a scare into the Jazz. LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds, made a putback to cap nine consecutive points by the Blazers and draw Portland within six at 78-72 with 5:28 remaining.

Alec Burks finally snapped the string of seven straight missed shots by Utah with a tip-in, but Damian Lilliard hit a 3-pointer make it 80-75 with 3:57 to play.

"Portland is an explosive team," Corbin said. "They are capable of scoring a lot of points in a short period of time."

But that's all the Blazers could muster down the stretch. Though the Jazz struggled to score, the Blazers came up empty on six straight possessions with two turnovers and four missed shots.

"We fought so hard to get back that I think we ran out of gas when it was time to turn it up again," said Lilliard, who played collegiately at Weber State in nearby Ogden and finished with 26 points.

Lakers 111, Timberwolves 100

At Minneapolis, Pau Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup and Kobe Bryant nearly had a triple-double in leading Los Angeles past Minnesota.

Bryant had 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and Steve Nash added 17 points and seven assists for the Lakers, who played without Dwight Howard due to a sore right shoulder. They have won four of their last five games and beat the Wolves for the 20th straight time, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Pacers 102, Heat 89

At Indianapolis, David West scored 30 points and Paul George added 15, leading Indiana past Miami.

The Pacers (28-19) have won 13 in a row at home and two straight overall since losing three straight on the road. Indiana and the New York Knicks are the only teams in the league to beat the defending NBA champs twice this season.

Raptors 98, Clippers 73

At Toronto, Rudy Gay wowed a sellout crowd by scoring 20 points in his Toronto debut, leading the Raptors to a rout of the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers.

Amir Johnson had 19 points and matched his career high with 16 rebounds for the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan also scored 19 as Toronto welcomed Gay with a winning effort two days after he was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade that also included Detroit.

Knicks 96, Bucks 86

At New York, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, Amare Stoudemire had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to three games.

J.R. Smith had 17 points and Tyson Chandler pulled down 20 rebounds in New York's fourth straight win over Milwaukee.

Celtics 97, Magic 84

At Boston, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each had a double-double, and the Boston Celtics responded to yet another blow to their lineup with a win over the Orlando Magic, who lost their eighth straight game.

Pierce had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists despite sitting out the fourth quarter. Garnett finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who learned early in the day that promising rookie Jared Sullinger will miss the rest of the season following back surgery.

Grizzlies 85, Wizards 76

At Memphis, Tenn., Mike Conley scored 18 points and Tayshaun Prince added 14 in his Memphis debut, including a pair of key fourth-quarter jumpers, as the Grizzlies defeated the Washington Wizards.

Marc Gasol added 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Nets 93, Bulls 89

At New York, Brook Lopez scored 20 points through three quarters, then the Brooklyn Nets turned to their bench to beat the short-handed Chicago Bulls.

Andray Blatche scored all of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and MarShon Brooks had nine of his 13 as the reserves scored the Nets' first 20 points. A starter didn't score until Joe Johnson's 3-pointer gave Brooklyn an 86-80 lead with 2 minutes to play. Johnson finished with 13 points for the Nets, who bounced back from a loss to Miami on Wednesday by beating another top Eastern Conference team.

76ers 89, Kings 80

At Philadelphia, Thaddeus Young had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 21 to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past Sacramento.

Nick Young scored 20 points to help the Sixers win consecutive games for the first time since they had a three-game winning streak from Nov. 25-30.

Nuggets 113, Hornets 98

At Denver, Ty Lawson had 21 points and 13 assists, Andre Iguodala scored 24 and the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Hornets for their sixth straight victory.

The Nuggets won 12 of 15 games in January, including a 10-2 mark at home, and got February started strong.

Mavericks 109, Suns 99

At Phoenix, O.J. Mayo scored 20 points to lead six Dallas players in double figures and the Mavericks, despite the absence of Dirk Nowitzki, added to their mastery of Phoenix with a victory over the Suns.

Darren Collison added 19 points and Vince Carter 17 for the Mavericks.


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