(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers will try to take another step toward the postseason Saturday night when they host the Denver Nuggets at the Moda Center.
The Blazers are 5 1/2 games clear of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Northwest Division title. By virtue of winning their division, the Blazers would host a first-round series, despite having a worse record than the Los Angeles Clippers, who are one game better in the standings.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points with nine rebounds, and he led a late charge from the Portland Trail Blazers in an 87-81 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
Robin Lopez had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Damian Lillard added 11 points for the Blazers, who have won two straight following a five-game losing skid.
"I was really proud how we continued to compete," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "(Aldridge) obviously made a lot of clutch shots late in the game that turned the tide for us."
Eric Bledsoe's free throw gave the Suns a 74-70 lead with under six minutes left in the game, then Aldridge got going and helped Portland take control.
Aldridge followed Bledsoe's make with a layup that kicked off a 15-2 run. He scored the final 10 points of the late surge that put the Blazers up 85-76 with 1:04 remaining.
The Blazers host the Suns and Los Angeles Clippers after Saturday's tilt with the Nuggets.
The Nuggets won their second in the last three on Friday with a 107-91 home demolition of the Utah Jazz.
Ty Lawson had 18 points and nine assists to lead the Nuggets. Jameer Nelson added 18 points and Will Barton had 12 and 10 rebounds, both in reserve roles, to help the Nuggets take a 2-1 lead in the season series.
"Everyone played hard and did the little things," Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried said.
Denver scored the game's first six points and never trailed, but a 6-0 Utah run late in the first made it 20-20. Nelson beat the buzzer with a 13-footer, jumpstarting a 15-1 run that stretched more than 4 1/2 minutes into the second.
The Jazz cut it to single digits midway through the fourth, with Hayward's jumper making is 59-52, but Lawson and Wilson Chandler scored at the other end around a Randy Foye triple to put Denver back in the driver's seat.
Denver heads to Utah and San Antonio on this trek.
The Trail Blazers have won seven in a row over the Nuggets and three straight as the host.