The who-wants-it-less race to be the eighth and final playoff participant from the Western Conference continued Monday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers lost while the Utah Jazz won to cut the Lakers' lead down to just one game with 11 games remaining in the regular season for each squad.
The results were somewhat to be expected heading into Monday night's action: L.A. had the Golden State Warriors, easily a playoff team and fighting to move higher on the playoff ladder, while Utah had the Philadelphia 76ers, whose season has slowly faded away in the Eastern Conference. And each game quickly went to plan. The Jazz jumped out to a 10-0 lead in their game, while the Lakers quickly trailed 32-16 and were down 23 to the Warriors at the halftime break. Utah was hot from deep, with Randy Foye and Gordon Hayward each drilling three, while a weak performance by everybody besides Kobe Bryant, who had 36, and Steve Nash, who had 21 points, nine boards, and seven assists, spoiled the night for Los Angeles.
The Lakers have now dropped three straight, while the Jazz had lost four in a row heading into the game. Although this should be a fun race -- especially for everybody who has ridden the wave of schadenfreude for the typically wildly successful Lakers all season long -- it's hard to imagine either team makes noise in the first round against the San Antonio Spurs.
Golden State's win put it a full game up on the Houston Rockets for the sixth spot with the Houston Rockets idle. The Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies each failed to capitalize on weak losses by the other, with the Nuggets having a 15-game win streak snapped by the New Orleans Hornets, oddly led by Brian Roberts' 18 assists, and the Grizzlies falling to the Washington Wizards on a night John Wall had 47 points.
Here's a look at the full Western Conference standings:
|San Antonio Spurs||70||53-17||.757|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||71||52-19||.732|
|Los Angeles Clippers||70||48-22||.686|
|Golden State Warriors||72||41-31||.569|
|Los Angeles Lakers||71||36-35||.507|
|Portland Trail Blazers||70||33-37||.471|
|New Orleans Hornets||71||25-46||.352|