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 past 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 to 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.
Also on Friday:
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 the Los Angeles Lakers to a victory over Minnesota.
INDIANAPOLIS — David West scored 30 points and Paul George added 15, leading Indiana past Miami.
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.
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, Amare Stoudemire had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and New York extended its winning streak to three games.
BOSTON — Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each had a double-double, and Boston recorded a win over Orlando, who lost its eighth straight game.
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 Washington.
NEW YORK — Brook Lopez scored 20 points through three quarters, then Brooklyn turned to its bench to beat short-handed Chicago.
PHILADELPHIA — Thaddeus Young had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 21 to lead Philadelphia past Sacramento.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Brandon Knight had 20 points and 10 assists, and Detroit never trailed against Cleveland.
DENVER — Ty Lawson had 21 points and 13 assists, Andre Iguodala scored 24 and Denver beat New Orleans for its sixth straight victory.
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.