Paul Millsap, Bojan Bogdanovic

Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4) guards Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the first half of an NBA game Friday, May 7, 2021, in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

SALT LAKE CITY — Bojan Bogdanovic is flourishing in a larger offensive role. His renewed confidence in his shot is opening the door for Bogdanovic to take over games by scoring at will.

Bogdanovic scored a career-high 48 points to rally the Utah Jazz past the Denver Nuggets 127-120 on Friday night. Nothing the Nuggets did against him defensively mattered. He attacked the rim and rained down outside shots in equal measure.

Bogdanovic went 16 of 23 from the field — making a career-high eight 3-pointers — to lead the NBA-leading Jazz to their fourth straight victory. He also had eight rebounds.

When the Utah forward scored his final points on a pair of free throws with 12.3 seconds left, amid chants of “Bogey! Bogey!” from the crowd, he felt like he had taken another big step forward on the path back from a wrist injury that prematurely ended his season a year ago.

“I’m playing better. I’m shooting the ball better,” Bogdanovic said. “So I’m getting in the right shape in the right moment right before the playoffs.”

Many of his shots came at critical moments to help the Jazz weather an early flurry of Denver baskets. Bogdanovic’s playmaking skills steadied Utah’s offense.

“What didn’t we see from him tonight?” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “He was making great reads. He really scored every way possible.”

Jordan Clarkson added 21 points and eight assists. Rudy Gobert had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Georges Niang chipped in 13 points – all in the second half.

Michael Porter, Jr. scored 31 points for Denver. Nikola Jokic added 24 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds, Paul Millsap had 20 points and Austin Rivers 18.

76ERS 109, PELICANS 107: Joel Embiid had 37 points and 13 rebounds to the tune of “MVP! MVP!” chants and the Philadelphia 76ers inched closer toward securing the top spot in the East with a 109-107 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Embiid made two free throws with 1:39 left to bring the Sixers within one, then grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end to set up Tobias Harris’ 3 with 1:10 left that made it 109-107. Philadelphia forced two turnovers to seal the victory.

The Sixers (46-21) won their season-high seventh straight game and increased their lead to three games over Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference. Barring a crazy collapse over the final five games, the Sixers will win the conference and home-court advantage through the conference playoffs. The Sixers are 26-7 at home this season and they won another tight one against a Pelicans team playing without Zion Williamson (finger).

Don’t necessarily count Coach Doc Rivers among those impressed with winning the conference.

“I don’t look at being a No. 1 seed as this great achievement,” he said. “I just think it’s great to have because of home court. The achievement is winning it (all). Everything else is what you need to do to try and win.”

Embiid and the Sixers are rolling as they head toward a postseason series with the winner of an East play-in tournament. Harris scored 17 points.

Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe both scored 18 points for the Pelicans.

HEAT 121, TIMBERWOLVES 112: Tyler Herro returned after a six-game absence and scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler had 25 and Miami moved back into the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, beating visiting Minnesota.

Goran Dragic added 23 points for Miami. Herro, who had been out because of right foot soreness, was 10 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 from 3-point range for Miami (36-31).

The win, combined with a loss at Chicago by Boston (35-32), allowed the Heat to pass the Celtics in the standings. Miami opens a two-game series in Boston on Sunday, the teams battling to avoid having to be part of the play-in tournament that awaits the teams finishing between No. 7 and No. 10 in each conference.

BUCKS 141, ROCKETS 133: Brook Lopez had 24 points and Khris Middleton scored 21 of his 23 in the second half to help Milwaukee beat short-handed Houston for its fifth consecutive victory, in Milwaukee.

The Bucks (43-24) tied Brooklyn for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks also have the tiebreaker advantage over Brooklyn because they won two of their their three regular-season meetings.

HORNETS 122, MAGIC 112: Terry Rozier scored 28 points, LaMelo Ball added 27 points and Charlotte inched closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament by beating visiting Orlando.

MAVERICKS 110, CAVALIERS 90: Luka Doncic scored 24 points in 23 minutes and Dallas kept the prime spot in a tight race to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament by breezing to a win at home.

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