For a couple of hours on Friday night, the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers were back in a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Jazz beat the New Orleans Hornets while the Lakers were still in a tussle with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The tie didn't last long as the Lakers were able to hold on and beat the Grizzlies to quickly move back ahead of the Jazz by a half game. More importantly, the Lakers remained a game ahead of Utah in the loss column with six games to play. Utah has just five games remaining but the Jazz also have the tie breaker advantage over the Lakers.
Both teams face playoff contenders in their next games on Sunday with the Lakers playing the Los Angeles Clippers and the Jazz visiting the Golden State Warriors. Following the games on Sunday, the Lakers have three playoff teams remaining on the schedule while the Jazz have two.
The Lakers' win over Memphis kept the Grizzlies chasing the Denver Nuggets for third place in the West. The Grizz are one game behind the Nuggets with six games to play. Since the Clippers have the Pacific Division sewn up, the Grizz are currently sitting in fifth place in the standings despite being a game ahead of the Clippers in the won-loss column. Were the playoffs to start today, the Grizzlies would still enjoy the home court advantage thanks to the better record. Memphis has a chance to put pressure on the Nuggets with its next two games against Sacramento and Charlotte.
Here's a look at the full Western Conference standings.
|Oklahoma City Thunder||76||56-20||.737|
|San Antonio Spurs||76||56-20||.737|
|Los Angeles Clippers||76||50-26||.658|
|Golden State Warriors||76||44-32||.579|
|Los Angeles Lakers||76||40-36||.526|
|Portland Trail Blazers||76||33-43||.434|
|New Orleans Hornets||76||26-50||.342|