Lakers aren't going to climb above 8th, but they may still drop

March 26, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki, here being fouled by Lakers forward Earl Clark, will lead Dallas into Staples Center next week for a crucial showdown that may help decide the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki, here being fouled by Lakers forward… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

With Monday night's loss to the Warriors (41-31), the Lakers (36-35) fell 4½ games behind Golden State.

L.A. only has 11 games remaining, and although the team can make up ground by beating the Warriors at Staples Center in mid-April, the Lakers aren't going to overtake Golden State in the standings. That ship sailed in Oakland on Monday.

The Houston Rockets (39-31) are now 3½ games ahead with a visit to Staples Center left on the schedule, but they're playing too well. The gap is too large.

With the Lakers losing three straight, eighth place is now the best-case scenario.

But both the Utah Jazz (35-36) and Dallas Mavericks (34-36) are right on the Lakers' heels. Because the Jazz owns the tiebreaker, the Lakers have to match Utah's record over the final 11. 

One slip-up and Utah could push the Lakers right out of the playoffs.

The Mavericks visit Staples Center on April 2.  A Lakers victory locks in the tiebreaker but a loss would even the season series.  The next tiebreaker is conference record, where the two teams are too close to call.

While a few weeks ago sixth or seventh place looked feasible, if the Lakers don't pull up from this swoon, missing the playoffs altogether may be their fate.


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