Utah takes care of Nurkic-less Blazers
The Utah Jazz became the second team in two nights to take advantage of the shorthanded Trail Blazers.
Utah beat visiting Portland 106-87.
The Blazers didn't shoot well from 3-point range (6 of 26, 23.1 percent), didn't get much inside on offense, didn't rebound well, and defended well only in spurts.
The Blazers fell to 38-40, 1-2 since losing center Jusuf Nurkic to what has been termed a hairline fracture of his right fibula.
Denver, meanwhile, won 134-131 in come-from-behind fashion at New Orleans.
The Nuggets improved to 37-40 — a half-game behind Portland but in reality 1 1/2 games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot because the Blazers own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 3-1 season series edge.
Denver has by far the more difficult remaining schedule, but Portland needs to play better at one end of the court, at least, while waiting for Nurkic's leg to heal, which may or may not happen in time for the postseason.
Utah scored the first 11 points on Tuesday, but the game was reasonably close until the fourth quarter. The Jazz led 24-17 after one quarter, trailed only once (31-30), led 47-41 at the half and were on top 75-64 through three quarters.
Utah center Rudy Gobert and forward Gordon Hayward carried the home team to victory. Gobert used his size to net 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Hayward scored 30 points.
CJ McCollum led Portland with 25 points, and Damian Lillard scored 16.
The Jazz led in rebounds 47-28.
Portland shot 39.8 percent from the field. Utah hit 53.4 percent.
The Blazers started Al-Farouq Aminu with Moe Harkless at forward — and Noah Vonleh at center, but foul trouble limited Vonled to 21 minutes, and he was 0 for 4 from the floor and had just two points and one reobund.
Center Meyers Leonard went 23 minutes off the bench and had nine points and three rebounds.