With just seven games left on the schedule, every game for the Los Angeles Lakers is extremely important.
L.A. has a half-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz own the tiebreaker over the Lakers, but lost the eighth seed with a defeat at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.
On Friday night, Los Angeles will look to extend their lead with a contest against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off is set for 10:30 p.m. ET in L.A. Viewers can watch a live stream online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
A loss by the Lakers and a win for the Jazz would give Utah sole possession of the eighth seed. They will also take the court on Friday, as they are scheduled to host the New Orleans Hornets.
In the 2012-2013 NBA season, the Lakers have struggled against the Grizzlies. They have lost both meetings by a combined 21 points. However, it’s the first time the teams will meet at Staples Center, where the Lakers plays much better. The Lakers have won nine more games at home than they have on the road.
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Steve Nash won’t play for the second straight game. The point guard has been battling a strained right hamstring and a right hip spasm. It will be the 26th game that Nash has missed this year.
Kobe Bryant is also battling injuries, but with the rest of the Lakers’ games being so important, the shooting guard will be on the court. Bryant is averaging 26.7 points per game since returning from his sprained ankle.
Memphis doesn’t have nearly as much to play for as Los Angeles. The Grizzlies have already locked up a playoff spot with at least the No.5 seed. They are in a battle with the Denver Nuggets for the No.3 seed, which would guarantee them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite the difference in their records, the Lakers are a two-point favorite in the contest.
Prediction: Memphis 95, Los Angeles 90