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NBA Playoffs 2011: Spurs Regain Control Of Race Against Lakers For West's No. 1 Seed

With a win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, the San Antonio Spurs retook control of the race for the No. 1 seed in the West bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers had closed to within 1.5 games after the Spurs lost their sixth straight game on Friday, but San Antonio's Sunday win combined with a Lakers loss to the Denver Nuggets pushed the Spurs' lead back to 2.5 games.

The Spurs now have a magic number of four to clinch the No. 1 seed. That means San Antonio can win the spot without beating the Lakers on April 12. But to do so, assuming the Lakers don't lose, the Spurs would need to beat the Hawks, Kings and Jazz this week, and the Suns again on the final day of the regular season.

The Lakers need just one more win or Dallas Mavericks loss to clinch no worse than the No. 2 seed, which means that L.A. would have home court advantage in the second round. In terms of specific matchups, with Dallas struggling of late, it's not clear that facing the Nuggets or Thunder in the second round is of any more relief than facing the Mavericks would be.

The Lakers draw the Warriors, Jazz and Blazers this week.