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Jazz back in playoff picture, Lakers out with nine games left in the regular season

Mar 30, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap

The Jazz came from 14 points down in the second half to get a big win in Portland on Friday, and by doing so, temporarily reclaimed the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.

The victory was significant, for multiple reasons.

It brought Utah’s record on the season to 37-36, which is identical to that of the Los Angeles Lakers. Since the Jazz hold the tie-breaker by virtue of winning the head-to-head season series over the Lakers, they now control their own destiny with just nine regular season games remaining.

No scoreboard watching is required in Utah the rest of the way — keep winning, and that final playoff spot is theirs.

In addition to reclaiming playoff position, the Jazz win was big for the team’s psyche. The Blazers aren’t great this season, obviously, but are 22-13 at home because Portland has always been one of the tougher places for visiting teams to play.

The Jazz have now won three straight, and the excitement is beginning to build.

Momentum can disappear as quickly as it is gained, but Utah’s remaining schedule is much more favorable down the stretch than that of a Lakers team which will be chasing the Jazz as much as it can.

Utah will play its next four games at home against Brooklyn, Portland, Denver, and New Orleans — all winnable games, even if the ones against the Nets and the Nuggets may be much tougher to get than the others.

The next two will both be big challenges for the Jazz, playing at Golden State and then at Oklahoma City. They wrap up the season with a home and home set with the Timberwolves, followed by a finale at Memphis.

Even if the Jazz do no better than 5-4 against their remaining slate of opponents, it still might be enough to hold off the Lakers.

L.A. plays at Sacramento on Saturday, where the Kings always seem to find a way to have a little something extra ready for those home games against the Lakers.

Next up is a home contest against a surging Mavericks team, followed by games against Memphis, at the Clippers, and against the Hornets. After a trip to Portland, the Lakers will finish the season at home for the final three games, but the opponents are all playoff teams — Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston.

It’s tough to predict which of those games the Lakers might be able to get, but remember, with the Jazz holding that tie-breaker, L.A. needs to win one more than Utah the rest of the way to get into the postseason.

If Utah manages to go 5-4 to finish the season, the Lakers would need to finish 6-3 (or better) to knock the Jazz from that playoff spot. With the quality of teams L.A. has to face over the final nine games of the season, it’s difficult to envision.

  1. 13arod - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    lakers and jazz are tied

    • dannymac17 - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Wrong. Jazz hold the tire breaker.

      • dannymac17 - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        I am absolutely amazed he cannot read.

  2. magicbucs - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    It took 12 hours to get this posted? If it was the lakers taking the 8th spot over the jazz this article would of posted within the hour of the game ending lol
    LAME!

    • spthegr8 - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      @Magic”Troll”
      & we ALL know you were just waiting on pin’s & needles for it too get posted so you can do what you do best…… “TROLL”!!! If you ask me, that’s LAME!!!! Just Saying!!!

  3. JMClarkent - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    As they will just be sacrificed, I’d rather the Jazz not make it. I think that this off-season is a very important crossroad with SO many free agents; I would hate for management to have a misguided feeling that “this team is close” due to a scrappy 1st round execution.

    • adoombray - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      I disagree completely. It’s Sports. You play to win every time. The NBA is ping pong balls, you never give up the short term for odds. You take what you have as far as it can go. Besides, it’s the Jazz, all their dudes are free agents, there will be major changes there next year no matter what happens, you might as well give your (devoted) fanbase a few playoff games. You know they will show up in Salt Lake and that crowd in the playoffs jumps through your speakers. NBA junkies will love them in the first round.

  4. nomorsacbball - Mar 30, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    yeah, he needs to just stick to posting on the sorry Yankees. doesn’t know a damn thing about hoops. ha!

  5. patfic15 - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Lol Lakers. Though not a Laker fan, I never thought this season would be this pathetic. It must’ve been the stabalizong effect of Bynum that held them together. Even worse, I think Mike Brown could’ve done better or Bernie, even. Oh well. Maybe next year Mamba. Yeah. Probably not.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:19 AM

      Bynum hasn’t played a game this year. The Lakers would not be better with him.

  6. beerndrums - Mar 30, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    If Utah was the last place in the world I’d do my best to find somewhere else to live

    • mazblast - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      It’s not the East coast, and it’s not LA. Utah is a beautiful place. It’s just a little dull; well, actually, quite dull. However, if you’re looking for a calm, serene, low-cost place with tons of clean, outdoor activities and a comparatively low-key attitude, Utah is for you.

      If I were able to retire right now, Utah would be one of the places I’d look at as a permanent domicile.

  7. bigrele - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Hahahahahaaaa after that Dwight Howard one game coming out party against Orlando lakerloser & the rest of his pathetic bunch of cronies were talking all that smack about who the Lakers aren’t afraid to face in the 1st round & who they matchup better with the Thunder or Spurs but now theyre on the outside looking in AGAIN lmao! I’ve said it all season, the Lakers are pitiful joke of a team this season & they just continue to prove it over & over again week after week losing to the worst teams in the NBA and rarely have they beat any of the western conference powerhouses; all those posts about who would have matchup problems against Dwight & Pau but as near seasons end this team doesn’t even have a .500 record with both of them in the starting lineup. Typical obnoxious Laker fans so delusional believing that all of a sudden come playoff time D’Antoni was gonna have this team playing 1st round upset basketball, ha! Enjoy the offseason Laker fans, its coming in about 9 more games; your suffering agony will be over with soon enough I promise you, peace out!

  8. delusionalcardsfan - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    Go Jazz!!

  9. magicbucs - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    @spthe”masterb8″…. You’re an idiot. I’m ragging on these writers not you so why don’t you get back on all 4’s and let Kobe force himself on you some more…
    LA LAMERS

    • spthegr8 - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      @magical”TROLL”!!
      I know you were but I’m ragging on you because, I just DON’T like you!!!! Your an annoying little garden variety “TROLL” and the world would be a better place without you!!!

  10. mazblast - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    David Stern must be foaming at the mouth right now. The very idea of the playoffs not having the Lakers–why, it’s preposterous, it’s blasphemous, it’s unheard of! HOW ARE WE GOING TO SELL MORE STUFF IF IT’S MERE UTAH IN THE PLAYOFFS AND NOT THE LAKERZZZZZZZ?

  11. hahapapa - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    Go Jazz.

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