NBA playoff picture: Jazz fall behind Lakers, other West teams win


The Utah Jazz have dropped out of the Western Conference playoff bracket again, so the Lakers are back in the mix. Meanwhile, the Nuggets, Rockets, Warriors, Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies all picked up victories.

Should the Los Angeles Lakers send their "Thank You" card to the Utah Jazz or the Denver Nuggets this time? Just when Utah had pulled even with the Lakers for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture, Denver stepped in on Wednesday night and knocked off the Jazz, 113-96. The loss pushed Utah a half-game behind the Lakers for the No. 8 seed, and there isn't much time left for Utah to make a move.

The Lakers have seven games left on their schedule, but five of those come at home, and the team is an impressive 24-12 at the Staples Center this season. L.A. does play five plus-.500 teams down the stretch. The Jazz have six games remaining with three against plus-.500 teams and an even home-road split. Utah does hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over L.A., so things could go down to the wire. Every game is important for both teams at this point, which is what makes Wednesday's loss for Utah so big.

In other action on Wednesday, the idle Oklahoma City Thunder watched the Spurs, Nuggets, Clippers Grizzlies, Warriors and Rockets all pick up wins. San Antonio pulled to one-and-a-half games ahead of OKC for the top seed out West.

Western Standings

San Antonio Spurs 75 56-19 .747
Oklahoma City Thunder 74 54-20 .730
Denver Nuggets 75 51-24 .680
Los Angeles Clippers 76 50-26 .658
Memphis Grizzlies 75 51-24 .680
Golden State Warriors 75 43-32 .573
Houston Rockets 75 42-33 .560
Los Angeles Lakers 75 39-36 .520
Utah Jazz 76 39-37 .513
Dallas Mavericks 74 36-38 .486
Portland Trail Blazers 75 33-42 .440
Minnesota Timberwolves 74 28-46 .378
Sacramento Kings 75 27-48 .360
New Orleans Hornets 75 26-49 .347
Phoenix Suns 75 23-52 .307

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