With the Utah Jazz losing earlier in the night to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers had a chance to take over the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference if they could secure a win over the New Orleans Hornets. The Lakers did just that, with Kobe Bryant's huge fourth quarter propelling them to a 104-96 victory.
Bryant scored 23 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to help secure the big victory, pushing the Lakers a half game ahead of the Jazz. Los Angeles has four games left on the docket, while Utah has just three games remaining.
The Thunder's victory over the Jazz moved Oklahoma City to a half game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the West. The Memphis Grizzlies moved to a half game behind the Denver Nuggets for the No. 3 seed with a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
At the bottom of the playoff picture, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets both clinched playoff spots thanks to their victories on Tuesday. The Warriors are one game ahead of the Rockets for the No. 6 spot, and this marks Golden State's second playoff berth in 19 years.
Here are the full playoff standings in the West:
|San Antonio Spurs||77||57-20||.740|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||78||57-21||.731|
|Los Angeles Clippers||77||51-26||.662|
|Golden State Warriors||78||45-33||.577|
|Los Angeles Lakers||78||41-37||.526|
|Portland Trail Blazers||77||33-44||.429|
|New Orleans Hornets||78||27-51||.346|
More from SB Nation: