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NBA -- Jazz win five straight, stay ahead of Lakers


PhilBoxing.com


CHICAGO -- As they continue to fight tooth and nail for the 8th and last playoffs spot in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz couldn't have picked a better time to put together their longest winning streak of the season.

On the strength of 6-foot-10, 289-pound center Al Jefferson's 24 points and 10 rebounds, the Jazz built a comfortable 87-73 advantage after three quarters and then coasted to a 112-102 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City.


It was the Jazz's fifth consecutive victory, putting them at 39-36 and a half-game ahead of the 38-36 Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoffs berth in the talent-rich West. The Jazz also holds the tie-breaker over L.A., which means if both teams end the regular season with identical won-lost records, Utah advances to the postseason.

At 36-37, the Dallas Mavericks are also in the tight playoffs race, just 1 1/2 games behind the Lakers and two full games behind the Jazz. The Mavericks visit the Lakers tonight at the Staples Center in one of the most interesting showdowns of the gruelling 82-game schedule.

The Blazers were once in the thick of this race but after losing five in a row and now dropping to 33-41, their chances of getting past the Mavericks, Lakers and Jazz are extremely nil.

"We're just playing like we want to be in the playoffs and that's the difference. We just got to continue to play well. We got a long way to go," Jefferson told NBA.com after his team's well-earned win where Mo Williams finished with 20 and Derrick Favors chipped in 18 and seven rebounds.

Weslet Matthews led the Blazers with 23 points while rookie sensation Damian Lillard had 17 points, five assists and five rebounds. Portland played without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge for the third consecutive outing. (Homer D. Sayson)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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