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Lakers are first NBA team eliminated from playoff contention

March 15, 2014|By Eric Pincus
  • Grizzlies center Marc Gasol tries to pass around his brother, Lakers forward Pau Gasol. While the Grizzlies are still alive in the playoff race, the Lakers have been eliminated.
Grizzlies center Marc Gasol tries to pass around his brother, Lakers forward… (Lance Murphey / Associated…)

The Lakers were the first NBA team to be eliminated from postseason contention with their 119-85 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

That loss coupled with the Phoenix Suns' 87-80 victory over the Boston Celtics was enough to officially and mathematically knock the Lakers out of the postseason -- not that they had any real chance of a playoff run.

The elimination is nothing more than a formality.

Even though the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies lost on Friday, 99-86, to the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers can no longer catch Memphis (38-27) in the standings.

Even if the Lakers can won all of their 16 remaining games, and even if the Grizzlies lost all 17 left on their schedule, the two teams would finish with identical 38-44 records.

And, if the impossible actually happened, the Lakers would own the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Grizzlies on the basis of conference record. But it wouldn't be a two-way tie.

The Grizzlies still play the Suns (37-28), which means Phoenix is guaranteed another win if Memphis loses out.

So, even if Phoenix lost every other game it had left except for the meeting with Memphis, the Suns would finish with 38 victories along with the Lakers and Grizzlies.

The Lakers would then be eliminated in the three-way tiebreaker, which would go to Memphis with a 5-3 record against the Lakers and Suns. Phoenix would finish in ninth at 4-4 and the Lakers in 10th at 3-5.

That's the math -- a complicated way to look at what has been obvious for months but wasn't official until Friday night.

The Lakers' season truly ended on Dec. 17 when Kobe Bryant fractured his knee in Memphis against the very same Grizzlies.


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Twitter: @EricPincus

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