The Los Angeles Lakers boosted their playoff hopes Tuesday, grabbing a much-needed 104-96 home win over the New Orleans Hornets to take a half-game lead over the Jazz for the West's final playoff spot.
After the Utah Jazz suffered a 90-80 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier in the night, the Lakers took a percentage-points lead in the conference, with the night's results either moving Los Angeles half a game up or half a game back of Utah.
The Lakers are now 41-37, half a game up on the 40-37 Jazz. Utah has three games remaining, and Los Angeles has four. The Lakers play at the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, then they close the season against three playoff teams, all at home: the Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets.
The Hornets held a 50-45 halftime lead Tuesday, but Los Angeles took its first lead of the second half within five minutes. New Orleans' latest lead was an 82-80 advantage with 7:31 left in the fourth on a pair of Eric Gordon free throws. Gordon led New Orleans with 22 points.