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Western Conference Standings Watch: Spurs survive against Rockets, put pressure on Lakers

A late potential game-tying 3-pointer narrowly missed for the Rockets, allowing the Spurs to inch closer to the Lakers for 10th place in the West and the final spot in the play-in round.

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It sure feels like the basketball Gods don’t want the Lakers to make the play-in game.

On Monday, the Spurs moved to within a half-game of the Lakers with a victory over the Rockets in Houston. But it was a victory of narrow margins.

After a pair of clutch 3-pointers gave Houston a chance late, a potential game-tying 3-pointer from Kevin Porter, Jr. rolled around the rim multiple times before falling out, giving the Spurs a 123-120 win in regulation.

The victory is an important one in the standings because it pulls San Antonio (31-44) to within a half-game of the Lakers (31-43) and the 10th spot in the Western Conference. Most importantly, it also means if the Lakers lose on Tuesday to the Mavericks — a game they will likely play without both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the lineup — they will drop out of play-in game range in the West.

A loss would see both the Lakers and Spurs with matching records of 31-44. With the head-to-head series tied at 2-2, the next tiebreaker is division record. San Antonio is 6-8 in the Southwest Division while the Lakers are 3-11 in the Pacific Division, giving them the edge and the 10th spot in the Western Conference.

The win for San Antonio also gives them a conference victory, which could be a tiebreaker down the line as well. The Spurs are now 21-24 vs. the Western Conference, while the Lakers are 16-28.

The outlook for the Lakers’ play-in hopes are already grim, and each Spurs win puts more and more pressure on the purple and gold to pick up wins against the toughest strength of schedule remaining in the league.

And as the Rockets’ late miss showed, it doesn’t help that the Basketball Gods don’t even appear to be on the Lakers’ side down the stretch.

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