Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers lost a heart-breaker to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, and Kobe suffered a severely sprained left ankle in the process, but the Utah Jazz failed to take advantage of the situation.
In fact, the Jazz did more to prove they don't belong in the playoff conversation. Even if Kobe misses games for L.A., the Jazz aren't going to get by if they play like they did against the Thunder on Wednesday.
Utah started the game 10-44 from the field (22.7 percent) against OKC and scored 28 points in first 24 minutes of the game, which set the stage for an uninspiring 110-87 loss to keep them a half-game out of the No. 8 seed, behind the Lakers. L.A. had a shot to tie its game in the closing seconds, but Kobe couldn't add to his game-high 31 points and came up empty on a potential game-tying shot.
To add injury to insult, he landed on Dahntay Jones' foot and sprained his ankle. The injury could change the complexion of the playoff race out West, as Kobe is "out indefintely." Then again, it's Kobe Bryant -- he isn't in the business of missing big games.
Next next five games for the Lakers are: at Pacers, vs. Kings, at Suns, vs. Wizards and at Warriors. The Jazz have a tough upcoming schedule, including the next five: vs. Grizzlies, vs. Knicks, at Rockets, at Spurs and at Mavericks.
ESPN playoff odds have the Lakers at 58.0 percent to take the No. 8 seed, while the Jazz have just a 39.4 percent chance. Basketball-Reference odds gives the Lakers a 71.1 percent shot to just 27.2 for Utah
While the Jazz and Lakers both lost, the Rockets and Warriors each secured victories to help create some separation from the bottom of the pack in the Western Conference playoff bracket. Golden State is three games up on Lakers for the No. 6 seed, while the Rockets are 1.5 games ahead of L.A. for the No. 7 slot.
In the top half of the bracket, the Spurs and Thunder are separated by just one game at the top, and Memphis moved a half-game ahead of the Clippers for the No. 3 seed with a head-to-head win on Wednesday night.
|San Antonio Spurs||65||49-16||.754|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||65||48-17||.738|
|Los Angeles Clippers||66||45-21||.682|
|Golden State Warriors||66||37-29||.561|
|Los Angeles Lakers||66||34-32||.515|
|Portland Trail Blazers||63||29-34||.460|
|New Orleans Hornets||65||22-43||.338|