Jazz, Blazers try to stay alive in playoff race

Both the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers will try to keep their playoff hopes alive on Friday night when they meet at the Rose Garden.

The Jazz have won two straight and only trail the Los Angeles Lakers by one- half game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Blazers are headed in the other direction. They've dropped two straight and trail the Lakers by three games for that postseason berth. Portland also has the Jazz and Dallas Mavericks between them and the Lakers.

The Jazz swept a recent two-game homestand with victories over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday and the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

Against the Suns, Utah jumped out early and never looked back. They won the first quarter 34-23 and won by 15.

"The main thing is we won the ball game," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We didn't play a great game. But I thought we played well enough to win the ball game."

Gordon Hayward and Al Jefferson both played about 42 minutes Wednesday and shared top scoring honors with 25 points apiece. Paul Millsap and Randy Foye notched 12 points each.

Mo Williams handed out 10 assists and Derrick Favors grabbed 13 rebounds off the bench.

The Jazz are without backup center Enes Kanter, who is out with a dislocated left shoulder.

The Blazers appeared to have a lot of momentum after back-to-back road wins over the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, but fell in Oklahoma City on Sunday, then returned home and got blown out by the Brooklyn Nets.

Against Brooklyn, the Blazers trailed after the first quarter, 37-17, and that was about it for the game. The final score was 111-93 as Portland didn't have an answer for Reggie Evans of all people. Evans scored 22 points and grabbed 26 rebounds.

"He's active. He doesn't stop. Basically, that's it," J.J. Hickson said of Evans. "He has a nose for the ball. We knew that going into the game, but he just outworked us tonight."

Portland was led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 24 points. Rookie Damian Lillard added 15 and Meyers Leonard chipped in 11.

The two Northwest Division foes have split their two meetings this season with each team winning at home. The Jazz have won five of their last seven in Portland.