Midway through their battle in New Orleans against the Hornets, the Lakers seemed destined to fall two games below .500. A 33-9 fourth-quarter run lifted the Lakers to 31-31 on the season, defeating New Orleans, 108-102.
Additionally, the Utah Jazz fell apart in the final moments in Cleveland, losing to the Cavaliers, 104-101. The Cavaliers got another brilliant finish from point guard Kyrie Irving to send Utah to 32-29.
By night's end, the Lakers had gained a full game on the Jazz and Rockets -- helping to make up for their Tuesday night defeat in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.
The Lakers are still in ninth place in the Western Conference but are just two games behind the Rockets and 1 1/2 behind the Jazz. Because the Utah squad has the tie-breaker (winning the season series over the Lakers, 2-1), they're functionally 2 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers.
The Warriors stay four games ahead of the Lakers, but the two teams meet twice before season's end.
Houston and Golden State play each other on Friday. If the Lakers can hold home court against the Toronto Raptors, they're guaranteed to gain a full game on one of the two.
Utah also plays on Friday, in Chicago against the 34-26 Bulls.ALSO: