2013 NBA standings: Lakers gain ground as Jazz, Rockets stumble on Wednesday night


The Los Angeles Lakers moved up in the Western Conference playoff race without lifting a finger on Wednesday night. They have the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks to thank for knocking off the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.

The Los Angeles Lakers didn't play on Wednesday night, but if Kobe Bryant and company decided to watch any of the action they would have come away encouraged by the results. The Lakers currently trail the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference playoff race, but both teams faltered at home against Eastern Conference foes last night. Even the No. 6-seeded Golden State Warriors managed to squander a 54-point outburst by Stephen Curry at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.

The Rockets suffered a heartbreak loss at the hands of Monta Ellis and the Bucks. Ellis scored a game-high 27 points, dished out a game-high 13 assists and swiped a game-high six steals to lift Milwaukee to a surprise win on the road. Larry Sanders helped Milwaukee take the lead with a late block on James Harden and a tip-in at the other end of the floor, but it was Ellis who inserted the dagger. Brandon Jennings tossed the ball to Ellis 27 feet from the hoop with less than one second on the game clock, and Monta delivered an off-balance, one-footed game-winner to stun the Rockets.

Utah got blitzed by the Hawks. Al Horford scored 34 points and Josh Smith added 24 of his own as Atlanta never relinquished the lead during the second half of the game. Utah dropped its third straight contest despite a career-high 15 rebounds from Derrick Favors in a rare start for the former No. 3 overall pick.

The Lakers now sit just 2.5 games back of the Rockets for the No. 8 seed and 3.0 games back of the Jazz for the No. 7 spot. L.A. has upcoming home games against the Timberwolves and Hawks, away games against the Thunder and Hornets and another home game against the Raptors. Kobe's squad is running out of time to make a move, but a few wins would put immense pressure on the less-seasoned teams higher in the standings.

Western Standings

San Antonio Spurs 59 45-14 .763
Oklahoma City Thunder 57 42-15 .737
Los Angeles Clippers 59 41-18 .695
Memphis Grizzlies 56 38-18 .679
Denver Nuggets 59 37-22 .627
Golden State Warriors 58 33-25 .569
Utah Jazz 58 31-27 .534
Houston Rockets 59 31-28 .525
Los Angeles Lakers 58 28-30 .483
Portland Trail Blazers 57 26-31 .456
Dallas Mavericks 57 25-32 .439
Minnesota Timberwolves 54 20-34 .370
Phoenix Suns 59 20-39 .339
New Orleans Hornets 59 20-39 .339
Sacramento Kings 59 20-39 .339

In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors did themselves no favors by turning in a terrible performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Cleveland was playing without superstar point guard Kyrie Irving and was finishing a stretch of four games in five nights, but Toronto found a way to lose a game it absolutely needed to win. Meanwhile, the No. 8 Bucks picked up a big victory over the Rockets and moved to six games up on Toronto in the standings. The eight playoff teams in the East have likely emerged.

Eastern Standings

Miami Heat 55 41-14 .745
Indiana Pacers 57 36-21 .632
New York Knicks 54 34-20 .630
Atlanta Hawks 56 33-23 .589
Brooklyn Nets 58 34-24 .586
Chicago Bulls 57 32-25 .561
Boston Celtics 57 30-27 .526
Milwaukee Bucks 56 28-28 .500
Philadelphia 76ers 55 22-33 .400
Toronto Raptors 58 23-35 .397
Detroit Pistons 60 23-37 .383
Cleveland Cavaliers 58 20-38 .345
Washington Wizards 56 18-38 .321
Orlando Magic 58 16-42 .276
Charlotte Bobcats 57 13-44 .228

More in the NBA:

How Bradley Beal broke out

Watch the Warriors and Pacers brawl

Stephen Curry breaks George Hill’s ankles

Is Doug Collins trying to get fired?

NBA Power Rankings: Can Heat overtake Spurs?

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