With the Utah Jazz winning on Friday night in Portland, the Lakers fell to ninth place in the Western Conference standings.
Both teams have a 37-36 record, but the Jazz hold the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of winning the head-to-head season series, 2-1. The Lakers and Jazz won’t meet again over the final nine games of the regular season.
After a stretch of improved play, injuries have again set the Lakers back.
Kobe Bryant has a bone spur in his foot. He recently missed two games with a severely sprained ankle. Steve Nash is battling hip and hamstring soreness. Antawn Jamison has a wrist injury. Metta World Peace recently underwent surgery for torn cartilage in his knee.
The Lakers need to outpace the Jazz by at least a game to finish ahead of Utah in the standings. They’ll visit the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
After the Kings, the Lakers play six of their final eight at Staples Center against the Mavericks, Grizzlies, Hornets, Warriors, Spurs and Rockets. They’ll also visit the Clippers and Trail Blazers.
The Jazz has three games left on the road (Golden State, Minnesota and Memphis). It also hosts the Nets, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Hornets, Thunder and Timberwolves.
The Lakers haven’t won on consecutive nights all season. They’ll host the Hornets on April 9 and play at Portland the next day.
Utah finishes its last back-to-back on Saturday, hosting the Brooklyn Nets. If they don’t lose again, the Jazz is assured a playoff spot.
If the Lakers, Jazz and Mavericks all finish with the same record, the Jazz hold the three-way tiebreaker.