Skip to content

Lakers vs. Jazz for eighth spot in West… it won’t be easy for L.A.

Apr 9, 2013, 11:21 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap AP

Such is the depth of the hole the Lakers have dug themselves — even in the sprint to the finish to get the eighth and final playoff spot in the West Los Angeles does not control its own destiny.

Utah is the team in the driver’s seat. Win out their remaining four games and the Jazz head to the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how many points Kobe Bryant scores or how fast Metta World Peace comes back from injury, if the Jazz win out the Lakers can do no better than tie and Utah has the tie breaker (they won the season series).

The Lakers still have a chance, but they likely need to go at least 4-1 in their last five to get there. They may need to win out. And their schedule is anything but easy.

Here is where things stand Tuesday morning — Utah is 41-37, half-a-game ahead of the Lakers at 40-37.

The Lakers have five games left:

vs. Hornets: (Tuesday night)
at Blazers (Wednesday night)
vs. Warriors
vs. Spurs
vs. Rockets

Utah has four games remaining:

vs. Thunder
vs. Timberwolves
at Timberwolves
at Grizzlies

Looking at Utah’s schedule, they should at least go 2-2. The Thunder, still in the chase for the top spot in the West, likely play their stars against the Jazz Wednesday (plus the Thunder likely are playing angry after a loss to the Knicks). The Jazz have taken both games this season they played against the injury ravaged Timberwolves. Then there is the last game — Memphis is a better team than Utah, it’s tough to say who Memphis will roll out there on the last night of the season. If the Grizzlies don’t have anything to play for they could rest guys, helping out the Jazz.

If Utah goes 2-2, the Lakers must go 4-1. If Utah goes 3-1 (and they had some big road wins recently, such as at Golden State) the Lakers have to win out.

Predicting what games the Lakers should win this season has been about as easy as predicting the next thing Dennis Rodman will do because the Lakers inconsistent defense means anyone can beat them on any night.

That said, they should beat the Hornets at home Tuesday night. Wednesday should be interesting — the Blazers are slumping badly right now but the Lakers are on the second night of a back-to-back against a team that will be up to play spoiler. You know their fans will be. That could be a deciding game for the Lakers — it’s must win but Portland will not make it easy.

Golden State and the Rockets have the kind of offenses that can shred the Lakers defense for a night, but they are also games that the Lakers can win if they get some defense on the perimeter and efficient scoring from Kobe Bryant (and if he gets some help from Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol).

Then there is the Spurs game. Gregg Popovich is resting guys down the stretch, but if the Spurs are still the top seed in the West at that point and beating the Lakers would mean Utah rather than Los Angeles in the first round, could the Spurs bring back the big guns for a game? Even if it’s the Spurs subs, they still run their system well and beat teams they shouldn’t.

There’s a lot of “ifs” in the scenario (especially for two teams that look like they will just get crushed in the first round by San Antonio or OKC) but for the players it’s much more straight forward — for Utah, win and you’re in; for Los Angeles, win then head to your local church to light a candle.

Latest Posts
  1. Pau Gasol on Fred Hoiberg: “I think we’ll play with a better flow offensively”

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    Pau Gasol Pau Gasol

    Hoiberg has a much stronger offensive reputation than Tom Thibodeau.

  2. Blazers waive Brendan Haywood after acquiring him from Cavs

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:43 PM EDT

    Brendan Haywood, Michael Beasley Brendan Haywood, Michael Beasley

    Portland received Mike Miller and two second-round picks in addition to Haywood.

  3. Report: Kings expected to hire Nancy Lieberman as assistant coach

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Austin Toros v Texas Legends Austin Toros v Texas Legends

    Lieberman would be the second female assistant coach, after Becky Hammon

  4. Report: Hawks’ Mike Scott arrested for felony drug possession

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Mike Scott Mike Scott

    Scott was charged with possession of marijuana and MDMA.

  5. Josh Smith clarifies “harder on me” comments in Players Tribune essay

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Free Agent Signings Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Free Agent Signings

    Smith says he was talking more about family stability than money in his controversial comments.

  6. Tony Parker says for Spurs this is “last crack at it to try to win it all”

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Tony Parker, Tim Duncan Tony Parker, Tim Duncan

    In what will be the last year for Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not to mention David West’s long career, there will be plenty of desperation and energy in San Antonio.

  7. Flip Saunders: Kevin Garnett will start for Timberwolves

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Kevin Garnett AP

    Will Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic or Gorgui Dieng start beside him?

  8. Flip Saunders still maintains he planned to keep Kevin Love until Andrew Wiggins offer

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Lottery Getty Images

    Timberwolves apparently weren’t just going to trade Love for whatever they could get

  9. Mark Cuban: NBA would have punished Tom Brady more harshly than Roger Goodell did

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Mark Cuban

    Suspending Patriots quarterback for a quarter of the season was bare minimum for Mavericks owner

  10. Report: Team USA uncertain whether Dwight Howard, John Wall will attend minicamp

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:07 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard, John Wall AP

    Jerry Colangelo said attendance was mandatory to be considered for 2016 Olympic team

  11. Adam Silver: NBA on track to play regular-season games in Africa

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwm0ndlhnjzlyjziyjk4otqxymqym2y5yzrintq4yjm1 AP

    NBA commissioner confident Africa will get a preseason game

  12. Thabo Sefolosha: Too soon to say when I’ll play again

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Thabo Sefolosha AP

    Hawks wing says his leg and ankle feel better

  13. 76ers sign Richaun Holmes

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:28 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers: Richaun Holmes Portrait Getty Images

    Philadelphia drafted Holmes in second round

  14. Matt Barnes ready to “foul the beep” out of DeAndre Jordan when Grizzlies, Clippers meet

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:33 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpthkoty3ytfmn2fjnjvlyjeyytc0mwvlngi0nwqyzmjh AP

    Barnes is a perfect fit in for the “grit and grind” style of the Grizzlies.

  15. Wesley Matthews says Trail Blazers never made him an offer, “I was pissed off”

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Portland not making a call means they knew Aldridge was gone and it was time to rebuild.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2641)
  2. B. Haywood (2214)
  3. I. Thomas (2123)
  4. A. Randolph (1848)
  5. M. Miller (1802)