Lakers could finish in seventh place in Western Conference

Only in this unpredictable season could the Lakers’ season finale yield so many scenarios.

After fighting for just playoff relevancy in the past two months, the Lakers could actually finish with a seventh-placed standing in the Western Conference. With the Houston Rockets losing Monday to the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers would climb up to the 7th spot with a victory over Houston.

Or the Lakers could end up with the eighth spot Wednesday if they lose to Houston and the Utah Jazz fall to Memphis Wednesday. Worst case scenario: the Lakers unreasonably feel complacent and drop to Houston while Utah wins their season finale, putting the Lakers out of the postseason for only the third time since 1976.

The Utah-Grizzlies game takes place before the Lakers’ game Tuesday against Houston, giving them clarity whether that game hinges on a postseason bid. But the Lakers would be well served to put everything into winning that game anyway. If the Lakers finish seventh, they would play the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, a team they beat Sunday 91-86 without Kobe Bryant. If the Lakers stay in eighth place, the Lakers would open the first round against top-seeded Oklahoma City, where they’ve lost six consecutive games, including three in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals.

Not that the Lakers can become choosers at this point. But with the Lakers (44-37) holding a one-game lead over Utah (43-38) for the eighth playoff spot, the purple & gold finally appear in control of something this season.

As it has been all season, no scenario appears out of the realm of possibility.


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