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NBA playoff picture: Lakers try to widen lead for No. 8; Rockets look to move up

Dwight Howard, Carl LandryDwight Howard and the Lakers are looking to grab a two-game lead over the Jazz in the West. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Here’s what’s at stake for playoff-contending teams on a busy Friday night:

Western Conference

Warriors at Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET): The Lakers (42-37) can grab a two-game lead over the Jazz (41-38) for the No. 8 seed with a win and a Utah loss. A loss drops the Lakers beneath the playoff cut with the Jazz owning the tiebreaker. Golden State (45-34), currently the No. 6 seed, would fall a half-game behind seventh-seeded Houston (44-34) with a loss and a Rockets win.

Clippers at Hornets (8:00 p.m.): The Clippers (52-26) could pull even with the Grizzlies (53-25) in the race for homecourt advantage in the first round with a win and a Memphis loss. The Clippers hold the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies based on their head-to-head record. A win and a loss for the Grizzlies and Nuggets (54-24) brings Los Angeles within a game of the No. 3 seed.

Grizzlies at Rockets (8:00 p.m.): Memphis could tie the third-seeded Nuggets with a win and a Denver loss. The Nuggets hold the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies by virtue of their head-to-head record. With a win and a Warriors loss, the Rockets could grab a half-game lead over Golden State for the No. 6 seed.

Nuggets at Mavericks (8:30 p.m.): The Nuggets could fall into a tie with the Grizzlies with a loss and a Memphis win. The Nuggets hold the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies. Dallas has been eliminated from the playoffs.

Kings at Spurs (8:30 p.m.): The Spurs (57-21) could grab a half-game lead over the Thunder (58-21) atop the Western Conference with a win and an OKC loss. A San Antonio win or loss by Denver clinches a top-two seed for the Spurs.

Timberwolves at Jazz (9:00 p.m.): The Jazz could pull even with the Lakers for the No. 8 seed with a win and a Lakers loss. Utah owns the tiebreaker over Los Angeles by virtue of their head-to-head record.

Thunder at Blazers (10:00 p.m.): With a win and a San Antonio loss, the Thunder could grab a 1 1/2-game lead over the Spurs in the race for homecourt throughout the West playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Bulls at Raptors (7:00 p.m.): The Bulls (43-35) could increase their lead over the sixth-seeded Hawks (43-36) with a win and an Atlanta loss.

Nets at Pacers (7:00 p.m.): With a win and a Knicks loss, the Pacers (49-29) could pull within one game of the No. 2 seed. The Nets (46-32) could secure a top-four seed with a win and a Bulls loss.

Bucks at Hawks (7:30 p.m.): The Hawks could grab a half-game lead over the Bulls for the No. 6 seed with a win and a Bulls loss. The Bucks are essentially locked into the No. 8 seed.

Celtics at Heat (7:30 p.m.): A Celtics win and a Hawks loss brings Boston (40-38) to within 1 1/2 games of the six seed. The Heat (62-16) have already clinched homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

Knicks at Cavaliers (7:30 p.m.): With a win and a Pacers loss, the Knicks (51-27) move within one game of securing the No. 2 seed and homecourt through the East semifinals.

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