Magic-Jazz battle has lottery implications for Lakers

Magic-Jazz battle has lottery implications for Lakers
Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic, left, goes up for a shot over Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks during Utah's win on Dec. 18. The teams meet again Saturday night. (John Raoux / Associated Press)

What team should the Lakers pull for Saturday night when the Utah Jazz plays host to the Orlando Magic?

The answer isn't quite clear as both teams are "fighting" the Lakers for lottery position.

The 22-46 Lakers began Saturday tied in the win column with the 22-47 Jazz.  Only the Milwaukee Bucks (13-56), Philadelphia 76ers (15-54) and Magic (19-50) are lower in the standings than the Lakers and Jazz.

If the Lakers lost all 14 of their remaining games, they'd finish at 22-60.  Since they play both the Magic and the Jazz again, both teams would be guaranteed at least another win.

A Magic weekend sweep over the Jazz and Lakers (on Sunday) would push Orlando to 21 wins -- just one below the Lakers.

Jazz wins over the Magic and Lakers (April 14) would push Utah to at least 24 wins, but Orlando would have just 20 wins, which could lock the Magic into third position in the May 20 draft lottery.

The NBA rewards the worst teams in the league with higher odds in the lottery -- the lower the record, the greater the chance at a top-three pick.

The Lakers aren't going to catch the Bucks and 76ers in the standings but an Orlando winning streak opens the door for the Lakers to slide down to third.

The Magic would still need one more win to establish the possibility of a tie with the Lakers, assuming the Lakers don't win again (which may be a stretch).

A Jazz victory Saturday gives the Lakers a better shot at the fourth-worst record but diminishes the hope for third.

Any additional Lakers win hurts their chances at a higher pick, as the Boston Celtics (23-47), Sacramento Kings (24-45) and Detroit Pistons (25-43) are on the Lakers' heels -- in the upside-down context of the draft lottery.


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