Kobe Bryant makes a pass after driving down the lane against Jazz big men… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
As they struggle to secure a playoff berth, the Lakers got crucial help Wednesday as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Jazz, 113-96, in Utah.
With the loss, Utah falls to 39-37 with six games remaining. The Lakers (39-36) have for the moment climbed into eighth place with seven games left.
The Lakers will make the playoffs if they win all seven, but Utah holds the head-to-head tiebreaker should the two teams finish with the same record (by virtue of the Jazz's 2-1 regular-season record against the Lakers).
The Lakers play only one game outside of Staples Center over the final stretch -- at Portland on the second night of a back-to-back. They also visit the Clippers on Sunday.
Their other remaining opponents are the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
Utah has three road games remaining (the Warriors, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Grizzlies). They also host the Hornets, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Timberwolves.
For every game Utah loses, the Lakers can afford to drop one as well. The schedule won't be easy for the Lakers, with five games against playoff teams -- two more than the Jazz.
But with the Utah loss on Wednesday, the Lakers at least again have a say in their own destiny.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.