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June 24, 2017

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Bryant has 47 as Lakers beat Blazers

PORTLAND, Oregon -- Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 47 points as the Los Angeles Lakers pulled closer to a playoff berth with a 113-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

The Lakers moved a game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Portland, missing the playoffs for the second straight season, has lost nine straight games, the most since an 11-game skid in the 2005-06 season. Rookie Damian Lillard led the Blazers with a career-high 38 points.

Pau Gasol had 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Dwight Howard added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Bryant was 18 of 18 from the free throw line.

At Washington, Ray Allen scored 23 points while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade relaxed on the bench as the Miami Heat's B-squad beat the Wizards 103-98 to give the resting A-team the gift of home-court advantage throughout the playoffs by clinching the best record in the NBA.

With James (right hamstring) and Wade (sprained ankle and bruised knee) injured and Chris Bosh at home with flu-like symptoms, plus Udonis Haslem getting the night off because of a sore right ankle, the what-was-left-over of the Heat committed 25 turnovers but still managed the win that assured they'll finish better than the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.

The Heat, who have won four straight games, also set a club record for victories with 62, moving one ahead of the 1996-97 team.

Denver's Wilson Chandler scored 29 points and Corey Brewer had 28 the Nuggets overcame a slow start to down the San Antonio Spurs 96-86 and post their club -record 21st straight home win.

The Nuggets (54-24) also equaled their club record for victories in an NBA season, with four games remaining, including two at home, where they improved to a league-best 36-3.

Andre Iguodala recorded a triple-double with 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who haven't lost at home since Jan. 18 against Washington.

Deron Williams had 29 points and 12 assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets over the Boston Celtics 101-93.

Brook Lopez scored 21 points and Joe Johnson added 20 for Brooklyn, which won for the 12 time in 18 games overall and beat the Celtics for the third time in four meetings this season.

P.J. Tucker scored 17 points for Phoenix, including two key baskets in the closing minutes, as the Suns helped eliminate the Dallas Mavericks from postseason contention for the first time since 2000 with a 102-91.

At Los Angeles, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led seven players in double figures with 19 points each as the Clippers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-95 for their club-record 31st home win of the season.

Paul added 11 assists, and Willie Green had 15 points in breaking the old mark of 30 wins by the 1974-75 team, when it was known as the Buffalo Braves.

In other games, the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 124-101, the Orlando Magic had a 113-103 overtime in over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Detroit Pistons downed the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-104 and the Sacramento Kings were 121-110 winners over the New Orleans Hornets.

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