Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer returned to Utah's lineup and helped the Jazz rout the Nuggets, 114-104, last night in Denver.
The Jazz, seeking their first division title since 2000, beat the Nuggets for the sixth straight time and increased their Northwest Division lead over Denver to a whopping 9 1/2 games.
Williams scored 26 points and dished out 14 assists. The Jazz's top assist man, Williams strained his left groin in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge game All-Star weekend and missed one game.
Boozer, Utah's leading scorer and rebounder, returned after missing eight games with a hairline fracture in his left leg. He scored 10 points in 12 carefully managed minutes.
Just as they returned, however, another two Jazz starters went down.
Center Mehmet Okur was inactive because of back spasms, ending his streak of 233 straight starts, and forward Andrei Kirilenko left the game with a bruised knee after banging into Carmelo Anthony in the first half. Kirilenko finished with no points and one assist in nine minutes.
Still, the Jazz were hardly threatened by a Nuggets team that still fancies itself a division contender despite a lineup that's been juggled all season because of injuries, illnesses, trades, and suspensions.
Coach George Karl's latest tinkering had Allen Iverson playing the point, Linas Kleiza moving into the starting lineup at off-guard, and Steve Blake coming off the bench. The move was made to put the ball in Iverson's hands more often, and he did rebound from a season-worst 9-point effort at San Antonio Tuesday night to score 33 points against the Jazz.
Grizzlies 103, Trail Blazers 102 -- Pau Gasol had 23 points, Mike Miller added 19 points and seven rebounds, and visiting Memphis survived a strange ending to beat Portland.
Zach Randolph had 25 points and seven rebounds for Portland, which had a chance to tie after Lawrence Roberts was called for a loose-ball foul.
Portland had pulled within 102-101 on a 3-pointer from Brandon Roy, then immediately fouled Damon Stoudamire with 0.8 seconds left.
Stoudamire made the first free throw and missed the second on purpose. Ime Udoka grabbed the rebound and appeared to stumble, but Roberts was called for the foul.
Time expired but the officials huddled, put 0.8 back on the clock, and sent Udoka to the free throw line. He made his first shot but the second one bounced off.
Knicks 95, Bucks 93 -- Channing Frye made two free throws after a video review put 0.8 seconds back on the clock, and host New York handed Milwaukee its season-high seventh straight loss.
The Knicks overcame 23 turnovers and a quiet night from Eddy Curry (10 points, 11 rebounds) by capitalizing on a second chance after they seemed headed for overtime.
Stephon Marbury (22 points) was short on a jumper as time was running out, but the officials called a loose-ball foul on Bucks center Andrew Bogut. After reviewing video, the officials found the foul came with time remaining, and Frye made both free throws.
Bulls 105, Wizards 90 -- Luol Deng tied a career high with 32 points and Kirk Hinrich added 20 points and 12 assists to help host Chicago win its third straight since the All-Star break.
Gilbert Arenas scored 36 points for the Wizards and had 18 straight points during one second-half stretch. His 3-point play got Washington within 4 in the final quarter, but then the Bulls took off.
Bobcats 102, 76ers 87 -- Adam Morrison, Matt Carroll, and Gerald Wallace each scored 19 points and host Charlotte, minus its sick coach, beat Philadelphia for its team-record-tying fourth straight win.
The third-year Bobcats, who won four in a row to end last season, were never threatened by the 76ers despite coach Bernie Bickerstaff leaving the bench late in the first quarter with flu-like symptoms. That left Bickerstaff's son, John-Blair Bickerstaff, 27, in charge.
Hawks 105, Rockets 99 -- Joe Johnson scored 31 points and host Atlanta overcame a 37-point effort by Tracy McGrady to beat Houston.
Josh Smith and Marvin Williams each had 20 points for the Hawks, who hit seven free throws over the final 75 seconds to seal the victory.
Nets 109, Kings 96 -- Jason Kidd got his 84th career triple-double and host New Jersey ended a three-game losing streak.
Kidd had 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists despite playing with a cracked rib that the Nets revealed Thursday. It was Kidd's ninth triple-double of the season.
Hornets 98, SuperSonics 97 -- David West had 23 points and 11 rebounds to help host New Orleans move into the eighth spot in the Western Conference with a victory over Seattle.
Suns 116, Timberwolves 104 -- Shawn Marion scored 27 points, Leandro Barbosa added 24, and Amare Stoudemire had 23 to help visiting Phoenix beat Minnesota. Steve Nash added 9 points and 15 assists in his third game back after missing four starts with right shoulder inflammation.
Raptors 110, Pacers 88 -- Chris Bosh had 23 points and 12 rebounds to lead host Toronto over Indiana. Jorge Garbajosa added 16 points for the Raptors, who have won nine of their last 10 at home.
Pistons 94, Magic 89 -- Chauncey Billups scored 28 points and Richard Hamilton added 22 to give visiting Detroit the win over Orlando. The Magic didn't score a field goal in the first 10:30 in the final period, squandering a 71-67 lead.