Houston's Jeremy Lin has hit up the Lakers for 28 points in three meetings… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )
The Houston Rockets may still have a three-game lead in the standings, but the Lakers still have a viable chance to catch Houston and climb into eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Rockets (31-27) have beaten the Lakers (28-30) twice in their three match-ups so far this season. The two teams are to meet on the final day of the regular season (April 17) in a game that could have significant playoff implications.
A Lakers victory would even up the season series at two apiece. If the Lakers have caught up to the Rockets by then, the next tiebreaker would be conference record. The Lakers are currently 15-20 and the Rockets are 13-20.
The Lakers have 16 games left against the West including visits to Oklahoma City, Golden State and Portland.
They'll also host the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and the final game against the Rockets.
Houston has a more difficult schedule against the West, visiting Memphis, Denver, Dallas, Golden State, Portland and the Lakers (among others). The toughest teams coming into Houston include Utah, San Antonio, Dallas, Memphis and the Clippers
The Lakers need to win games but they'll also need the Rockets to lose enough along the way to open the door.
Houston hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. The Lakers play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Thursday.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.