Biyernes, Marso 8, 2013

Where the Lakers-Jazz Chase Stands Right Now

Let's just say that Houston has been a little clingy with the 7th spot in the West right now, which is pretty good for James Harden and the rest of the boys. With that, speaking short term, the huge target set by this unbelievable rage of the Lakers is solely embedded on Utah Jazz's back.

Utah seemed poise to beat Chicago earlier when they take the lead 88-86 with less than a minute in a tightly contested ball game. But the Jazz can't hold long when Chicago's offensive rebounding sparked a Belinelli three-pointer. Bulls win 89-88.

With that loss, Utah is at 32-30 (.516). 

Right after that Chicago slugfest, the LA Lakers lock horns with the Toronto Raptors in a game that could be dubbed as "The Battle of the Ninth Placers". The difference between the two is that LA is at .500 and Toronto is way way down that percentage.

The Lakers, with Kobe Bryant being his usual self, climbed up to edge the visitors in a dramatic comeback, winning it in overtime. 

That Utah loss and this LA win would not make any implications in the standings just yet, let's say, for tonight. But its aftermath would be felt as soon as Utah and the Lakers march into their next games.

With the win, the Lakers tie Utah's W's at 32 each but is a game behind with 31 losses. Still, a win is a win, and in the case of the Lakers, it's a big one. In short, the win vs Toronto does not automatically propel LA into 8th place but this is a needed win. THAT was a must win. Why? Because of their next opponent.

LA faces Chicago days from now. That wouldn't be easy given that the Bulls are still the dark horses of the East despite playing the season without Derrick Rose. And the win against Toronto would decrease the pressure graved on the Lakers going into that game.

Speaking of pressure, Utah has lots of it. Not only that they lost earlier and their predators in LA are smelling their tails, but with their next game as well.

Utah faces New York in a slug fest that could allow the Lakers to penetrate the playoffs scene. I mean, this Knicks team, despite losing Carmelo Anthony to knee issues and dropping the game against OKC yesterday, is a bully. They are a powerhouse to say the least. And if you're the Utah Jazz, you can never be calmed until you beat them or until Chicago beat LA.

Take a look on how the picture goes from here.

-If LA wins against Chicago and Utah lose to New York, the Lakers are in the playoff picture.
-If Utah wins against New York and LA lose to Chicago, the Jazz keep their grip of the 8th and the Lakers would be bugged by the Portland Trailblazers, who are trying to catch up with LA.
-If both Utah and LA win or drop their respective games, implications shift automatically to their next games against Detroit and Orlando respectively.

Finally, I can say that the next games for these two teams, who are battling it out to be a part of April's big dance, would be a perfect test on who deserves a spot. With too much at stake against stronger opposition, a win would solidify their worth as a playoff team. That actually makes sense.

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