NBA playoff picture: Jazz benefit from Lakers, Mavericks losses, Pacers move past Knicks

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe and Lakers suffered a loss on Thursday night and the Mavericks followed suit, so the idle Jazz received a gift in the Western Conference playoff race. Will they take advantage?

Nobody seems to want the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks both lost on Thursday night, and Kobe Bryant now has a bone spur in his left foot that will need to be examined. The Utah Jazz made the biggest moves on Thursday, and they didn't even play a game. The Lakers hold a half-game lead over Utah for the final playoff spot, while the Mavs sit 1.5 games out of the No. 8 seed.

ESPN playoff odds now peg the Lakers with a 50.5 percent chance of taking the last spot, but that doesn't account for any injury that could slow down Kobe. The Jazz (35.4 percent odds) and Mavericks (12.3 percent odds) are still very much alive in the playoff race.

The Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks were the only two Eastern Conference playoff teams to play on Thursday, and both teams won. The Bucks were responsible for knocking off the Lakers, and with the win they pulled within two games of the Boston Celtics for the No. 7 seed. The Bucks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so if they match Boston they will avoid a date with the Heat.

Meanwhile, the Pacers knocked off the Mavericks to move a half-game ahead of the Knicks for the No. 2 spot. Indiana announced that Danny Granger (knee) will be shut down for the remainder of the season, but they have played well without him for most of the year. The Knicks and Pacers are in a battle to see who will start the playoffs on the opposite side of the bracket from the Miami Heat.

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 73 37-36 .507
Utah Jazz 72 36-36 .500
Dallas Mavericks 72 35-37 .486
Portland Trail Blazers 71 33-38 .465
Sacramento Kings 73 27-46 .370
Minnesota Timberwolves 70 25-45 .357
New Orleans Hornets 72 25-47 .347
Phoenix Suns 73 23-50 .315

Eastern Standings

Miami Heat 71 56-15 .789
Indiana Pacers 73 46-27 .630
New York Knicks 70 44-26 .629
Brooklyn Nets 71 42-29 .592
Chicago Bulls 70 39-31 .557
Atlanta Hawks 72 40-32 .556
Boston Celtics 71 37-34 .521
Milwaukee Bucks 71 35-36 .493
Philadelphia 76ers 71 28-43 .394
Toronto Raptors 71 26-45 .366
Washington Wizards 71 26-45 .366
Detroit Pistons 72 24-48 .333
Cleveland Cavaliers 70 22-48 .314
Orlando Magic 72 18-54 .250
Charlotte Bobcats 71 17-54 .239

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