Kenny Anderson had 30 points and 12 assists Friday night as the Portland Trail Blazers brushed aside suggestions that their coach might be fired and beat the Utah Jazz 115-105.
The Blazers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, shot a season-high 58 percent from the field.
Isaiah Rider scored 26, including a spectacular 40-footer in the third quarter, while Clifford Robinson and Rasheed Wallace added 20 apiece for the Blazers.
Portland’s starting backcourt of Anderson and Rider outscored Utah’s starters John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek 56-19.
Despite two published reports that P.J. Carlesimo is on his way out, Portland Trail Blazers president Bob Whitsitt said there are no immediate plans to replace the coach.
“P.J. has not been fired,” Whitsitt said at the team’s shootaround.
Whitsitt said he expected Carlesimo, in the third year of a five-year contract, to coach through the rest of the season. But he wouldn’t absolutely rule out the possibility Carlesimo would be dismissed.
“I don’t do anything categorically,” Whitsitt said. “I never get into that. That’s like asking me to evaluate, which I never do publicly.”
The New York Daily News and The Columbian of Vancouver, Wash., both quoted sources in Portland as saying Carlesimo could be fired after Friday night’s game with Utah. The Columbian said the change would almost certainly come before Sunday’s home game with Philadelphia.
But Whitsitt said, “There won’t be a different coach coaching the Blazers on Sunday unless P.J. gets sick or something.”
The Daily News said there is concern among management that the young players, such as Wallace (22), Gary Trent (21) and Jermaine O’Neal (18), wouldn’t re-sign because they don’t like Carlesimo’s loud, aggressive style.
Coach Adubato wins in ‘debut’
Penny Hardaway scored 20 points and the Orlando Magic extended their season-high winning streak to six games with a 94-73 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Orlando.
The Magic remained unbeaten under coach Richie Adubato, who replaced Brian Hill on Feb. 18 and had the word “interim” removed from his title before the game.
Hardaway was 7-for-12 from the field and had five rebounds and eight assists for Orlando.
Orlando has held an opponent under 90 points in every game under Adubato after giving up 107 per contest in their last five outings - all losses - under Hill.
Elsewhere on the courts
At Atlanta, Dikembe Mutombo, taking advantage of Shaquille O’Neal’s absence, scored a season-high 27 points and Steve Smith hit two key 3-pointers down the stretch as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 86-75.
Los Angeles, second in the Pacific Division, has lost 5 of 8 since O’Neal suffered a hyperextended left knee on Feb. 12.
Mark Jackson had a franchise-record 19 assists in his fourth game since being reacquired by Indiana, matching the team total of Milwaukee, as the Pacers defeated the Bucks 101-85 in Indianapolis.
Michael Jordan scored 35 points and Scottie Pippen added 29 as the Chicago Bulls rebounded from a rare loss to beat the Sacramento Kings 126-108 in Chicago.
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