Mark April 17 on your calendars, folks. It's going to be a wild finish out west.
The Utah Jazz, who, heading into tonight, were 1 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, were able to defeat the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves for the second straight game. Utah handled Minnesota with ease, winning their crucial matchup on the road by 16 points, a 96-80 victory. Al Jefferson led the way for Utah tonight, posting 22 points on 8/15 shooting and grabbing 8 rebounds as well. Mo Williams added 15 points and 7 assists on 7/15, and Randy Foye chipped in 14 points on 5/11. For the TWolves, Derrick Willliams led the pack with 18 points on 7/13. Had Utah lost, the Lakers would have clinched the final spot in the West; now, the fate of the Lakers rests in their own hands as they head into their final regular season matchup against the Houston Rockets.
Speaking of Houston, they absolutely dropped their matchup against the west-worst Phoenix Suns tonight, losing in Phoenix 112-119. Lois Scola posted a beastly 26 point, 15 rebound performance to lead the Suns, while Goran Dragic added 21 points and 14 assists. Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 24 points and 7 assists, but his strong effort ended up coming short. As a result of this loss, the Rockets now stand only 1 game ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference Standings, which means if the Lakers win their matchup against Houston, both teams will hold records of 45-38. A win for LA will mean the regular season series between both teams will be tied as well. If these circumstances occur, the league will have to look at which team holds the better winning percentage against Western Conference opponents. Currently, the Lakers are 27-24 against teams out west. Unfortunately for Houston, they stand at 24-27. So, simply put, the Lakers will clinch the 7th seed if they defeat the Houston Rockets Wednesday evening and will earn the right to play the 2nd seeded San Antonio Spurs. A loss, along with a Utah win over the Memphis Grizzlies, will result in the Lakers missing the postseason completely.
This is gonna be fun..,