Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points and added 12 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Hornets for their fifth straight win.
Chauncey Billups added 21 points for Denver, who now have a two-game advantage over Utah for third place in the Western Conference.
That is because the Jazz went down 95-87 to the Milwaukee Bucks, who racked up a fifth straight win with a late charge.
The game was tied with 28 seconds left, but after Ersan Ilyasova scored on a putback it was all Milwaukee.
John Salmons had 24 points and Brandon Jennings added 23 for the Bucks.
The Charlotte Bobcats recorded their fifth win in a row as they held off a rally to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 106-98.
Stephen Jackson scored 24 points to keep the Bobcats on course for their first play-off appearance in franchise history.
The Los Angeles Lakers gave one lead away before rallying to top the Phoenix Suns 102-96.
The Suns came from 15 points down to lead in the final quarter, but the Lakers came back once more.
Kobe Bryant led the way with 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but was also guilty of seven turnovers.
LeBron James made his return from a two-game absence to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 100-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
James, who has been suffering with an ankle injury, collected 23 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
Kevin Durant recorded his franchise-record 36th 30-point game of the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder needed all of his 32 points to hold off the New Jersey Nets 104-102.
Durant sealed the win from the free-throw line after Devin Harris missed a chance to put the NBA-worst Nets on top in the final seconds.
Paul Pierce scored 20 points and Rajon Rondo added 16 and 11 assists before both took a breather in the final quarter as the Boston Celtics easily snapped a two-game losing streak, routing the Indiana Pacers 122-103.
The Miami Heat remain on course for the play-offs after beating the ailing Chicago Bulls 108-85.
Jermaine O'Neal scored 25 points and Quentin Richardson added 23.
Richard Jefferson led the San Antonio Spurs to a 103-85 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, with 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists in his first start in seven games.
Will Bynum dished out a career-best 20 assists to help the Detroit Pistons to a 101-87 win over the Washington Wizards.
Zach Randolph's 24 points and 11 rebounds lifted the Memphis Grizzlies to a 119-112 win over the New York Knicks.
Brandon Roy scored 28 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 110-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings.