The Lakers hadn't played in days but gained some ground on Utah. If only the rest of their season had been this easy.
Their playoff lives, though, might boil down to the place they originated.
The Minnesota Timberwolves (28-46) could be a key to their collecting the $194,016 playoff share pocketed by teams advancing to the first round.
Utah plays Minnesota twice — at home April 12 and at Minnesota on April 15.
New Lakers refrain: Go Timberwolves?
Pau Gasol is good friends with Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio. Maybe he'll put in a call to his Spanish national teammate.
"I haven't talked to him," Gasol said Thursday. "They beat Oklahoma City at home, so they're capable of beating Utah hopefully at least one of those two times."
The Lakers (39-36) are half a game ahead of Utah for eighth place in the Western Conference after the Jazz (39-37) lost at home Wednesday to Denver, a game Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said he didn't watch because he didn't want to "get all geeked up about something I can't control."
"I can't waste my adrenaline in that game. We have [fate] in our hands and that's what we want. We control what happens. We've got to take care of our business."
Gasol was more open to tracking the Jazz. Sort of. "I have no choice but to follow them," he said.
The Lakers and Jazz have many scheduling similarities the rest of the way.
They each play New Orleans, Golden State, Memphis and one of the West's top two teams — the Lakers get San Antonio, Utah gets Oklahoma City.
Other Lakers games are a designated visit to the Clippers, at Portland and at home against Houston to end the regular season.
Playoff-bound teams often rest players this time of year, but not the Lakers.
There's no rest for the leery.
Kobe Bryant, in fact, sat out only 56 seconds Tuesday against Dallas, a monumental number compared with the 23 seconds he rested Saturday against Sacramento.
"It concerns me, but we're looking at it with him and talking about it every day. Obviously, that's on the mind of everybody," D'Antoni said. "We're trying to steal moments when we can for him."
He said Bryant would not play as much Friday against Memphis because the Lakers have an early game Sunday against the Clippers.
More jersey questions
The Lakers goofed when they created the Shaquille O'Neal jersey unveiled in Tuesday's halftime retirement ceremony. His name is on the front of the jersey, not the back, a mistake they plan to correct by Friday.
But will there be more fixes?
While we're on the subject, the retired jerseys of Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Gail Goodrich all show purple numbers on the Staples Center wall.
The problem? The Lakers didn't start using purple numbers until the 1978-79 season. All four players had retired by then; the Lakers wore either blue or white numbers during their playing careers.
A different-colored number might not be as big a faux pas as putting a player's name on the front of his jersey. But if the team wants historical accuracy, more changes have to be made.
The Lakers' response? They're taking things one jersey at a time.
"We'll look into it during the off-season," a team spokesman said.
Steve Nash went through an individual workout Thursday but did not practice and was doubtful for Friday's game against Memphis, D'Antoni said.
Nash sat out Tuesday against Dallas and most of the previous two games because of hip and hamstring soreness.
Darius Morris and Robert Sacre were recalled by the Lakers after playing once for the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Morris had nine points and nine assists and Sacre had 14 points and six rebounds in the D-Fenders' 114-109 victory Wednesday over the Canton Charge.