The Lakers have been disappointing this year, but it's clear that Kobe Bryant will do everything in his power to make sure the team reaches the 2013 NBA Playoffs. On Wednesday night, L.A.'s sieve-like defense ceded 38 points and nine assists to Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard, but Kobe turned that into an afterthought by pouring in a season-high 47 points on 14-27 shooting and 18-18 from the free throw line. Bryant exploded for 28 of his 47 in the first half and then came up with some big plays down the stretch to help seal the game.
With the win, the Lakers moved one full game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the No. 8 spot in the West. The Lakers have home games against the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets left on the schedule. The Jazz own the head-to-head tiebreaker over L.A., but they need to make up a full game somewhere in their remaining schedule (vs. Minnesota, at Minnesota, at Memphis).
In other action, the Spurs lost to the Nuggets on Wednesday, which means the Oklahoma City Thunder moved to the top overall spot by virtue of the secondary tiebreaker (conference record). That means OKC controls its own destiny down the stretch when it comes to the No. 1 spot in the bracket.
|1||x - Oklahoma City||57||21||.731||-||Won 1||7-3|
|2||y - San Antonio||57||21||.731||-||Lost 1||5-5|
|3||x - Denver||54||24||.692||3||Won 5||8-2|
|4||y - LA Clippers||52||26||.667||5||Won 3||6-4|
|5||x - Memphis||53||25||.679||4||Won 2||7-3|
|6||x - Golden State||45||33||.577||12||Won 1||7-3|
|7||x - Houston||44||34||.564||13||Won 1||7-3|
|8||LA Lakers||42||37||.532||15 ½||Won 2||6-4|
|Utah||41||38||.519||16 ½||Lost 1||7-3|
|New Orleans||27||52||.342||30 ½||Lost 2||4-6|
|Phoenix||24||55||.304||33 ½||Won 1||1-9|