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Ingles’ Utah Jazz extend their NBA rise

Joe Ingles and the Utah Jazz appear on track for another NBA playoffs appearance after notching their fifth win from their last six games to be on the fringe of the Western Conference top eight.

The Jazz played a second straight second game without top three point guards, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto due to injury, but still beat the Chicago Bulls 110-102 at home on Saturday night.

Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points, his third straight game with 30 or more, while Australian veteran Ingles added 16, including four three-pointers.

Mitchell’s hot form has corresponded with the Jazz (22-21) finally rising above .500 after a slow start to the season.

Centre Rudy Gobert scored 15 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had a career-high eight assists for the Jazz while sharpshooter Kyle Korver scored 16 points and passed Jason Terry to move into fourth place in NBA history with 2284 three-pointers.

The upset of the day came in Phoenix, where the Suns toppled the visiting Denver Nuggets 102-93.

The Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference and the Suns have the worst and the Suns were without scoring leader Devin Booker.

Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career high with 26 points and tied his career best with 11 rebounds for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the hosts.

In Orlando, Australian centre Aron Baynes was missing for an 11th straight game with a fractured finger as his Boston Celtics lost 105-103 to the Magic.

Jayson Tatum missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have tied it.

After starting the season strongly the Celtics are down to fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Aaron Gordon had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Magic while Kyrie Irving scored 25 points for the Celtics, 10 of them from the foul line in the final 4:31 as Boston made a late charge.

In Los Angeles, Blake Griffin seized his first opportunity to show his former fans what they’re missing, scoring 44 points to lead the visiting Detroit Pistons to a 109-104 NBA victory against the LA Clippers.

Griffin was drafted No.1 overall by the Clippers in 2009 and spent his first eight seasons with them, helping the team reach the playoffs in six straight years from 2012-17.

Griffin, who had signed a five-year, $173 million contract six months before he was surprisingly traded to Detroit last January, didn’t shake the extended hand of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during warmups at Staples Center.

“There was a lot of hype coming into this game and I was looking forward to it, but I’m glad that it’s over,” Griffin said. “The next time I come it won’t be as crazy.”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 27 rebounds as the host Minnesota Timberwolves held off the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106.

The Timberwolves bounced back from their first loss under interim head coach Ryan Saunders a night earlier to improve to 2-1 since he replaced the fired Tom Thibodeau.

Dennis Schroder scored all of his 19 points in the second half to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 122-112.

Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City, which bounced back from a 154-147 loss in double-overtime loss to the Spurs on Thursday.

Elsewhere the Miami Heat beat the Memphis Grizzlies 112-108 and the Sacramento Kings beat the Charlotte Hornets 104-97.

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