Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/17/13
Getting into the playoffs turned out to be easier than expected for the Lakers. The Lakers clinched at least the eighth seed in the Western Conference after the Utah Jazz fell to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers entered the night a game ahead of the Jazz with one game remaining in the season. A loss to the Rockets coupled with a win by the Jazz would have eliminated the Lakers from the playoffs. Instead, Jazz loss gives the Lakers an automatic berth. However, the Lakers can climb even higher than just the No. 8 seed. Because of a better conference record, a Lakers' victory over the Rockets would secure the seventh seed and set up a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs. A loss would pair them against the No. 1 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. Lakers lost the season series, 3-1, to the Thunder. Lakers will enter the playoffs without Kobe Bryant, who is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles tendon. He is expected to be sidelined for six to nine months. The Lakers beat the Spurs in their last meeting without Bryant, but lost the season series, 2-1.
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