NBA Playoff Picture: Lakers, Clippers grab important wins, Warriors lose out West

Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The two teams from L.A. took important steps in their playoff pushes on Wednesday, while the Warriors suffered a setback.

The Lakers, Clippers, Spurs and Thunder were the only Western Conference playoff teams to win on Wednesday night, so that quartet made up some ground on the Nuggets, Grizzlies, Warriors and Rockets in the standings. The Clippers moved past the Nuggets and to take the No. 3 spot, while the Lakers made up some ground in the race for the seventh and sixth seeds.

The Lakers maintained their one-game lead over the Utah Jazz -- who outscored the Suns 56-32 in the paint to earn a win on Wednesday -- and gained a half-game on the idle Mavericks with a just-enough-to-win effort against the Timberwolves. Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 31 points on 12-21 shooting and came on strong in the second half. He dropped in 16 of his points during the third quarter, and then he nailed a big jumper late in the fourth to give the Lakers a 116-111 lead. L.A. still almost collapsed down the stretch, but escaped with a 120-117 win to push their record to 37-35. Read more about the game at Silver Screen and Roll.

Meanwhile, the Rockets lost to the Pacers and the Warriors suffered a setback against Sacramento. That means the Lakers are just 3.5 games out of the No. 6 seed in the West and 2.5 games out of the No. 7 spot. The Kings entered Wednesday with a 6-30 record on the road, but Golden State could not stop Isaiah Thomas (31 points on 10-18 shooting, 7-12 from three) and the Warriors lost a game everyone expected them to win.

The good news for the Warriors is that they have just three games left against +.500 teams, and six of their nine games are at home. The Rockets still play five +.500 teams and have six of 11 games on the road. For the Lakers and Jazz, the schedule breaks down like this: five games against +.500 teams, six of the last 10 contests at home.

Western Standings

San Antonio Spurs 71 54-17 .761
Oklahoma City Thunder 72 53-19 .736
Los Angeles Clippers 72 49-23 .681
Denver Nuggets 73 49-24 .671
Memphis Grizzlies 71 47-24 .662
Golden State Warriors 73 41-32 .562
Houston Rockets 71 39-32 .549
Los Angeles Lakers 72 37-35 .514
Utah Jazz 72 36-36 .500
Dallas Mavericks 71 35-36 .493
Portland Trail Blazers 71 33-38 .465
Sacramento Kings 72 26-46 .361
Minnesota Timberwolves 70 25-45 .357
New Orleans Hornets 72 25-47 .347
Phoenix Suns 72 23-49 .319

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