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Lakers, Jazz gear up for stretch run for 8th seed

Thursday - 3/28/2013, 10:35pm  ET

Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward (20) goes to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The Jazz won 103-88. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

LYNN DeBRUIN
AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz were in this position last year and pulled it off. The built-for-championship Lakers never expected to be anywhere close.

With three weeks remaining, the battle for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth is on.

"If you're competitive, you've got to love this time, this opportunity," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said Thursday. "That's (what makes you) thrive. You're in this fight."

His Jazz play at Portland on Friday, while the Lakers lost at Milwaukee on Thursday night, leaving them a half-game ahead of Utah.

After that, the Lakers and Jazz each play five teams with winning records. Both have six at home. The Jazz, however, own the tiebreaker, having won the season series 2-1.

Utah also owns the tiebreaker with Dallas, which has crept back into the Western playoff picture. The Lakers had a game lead over Utah (36-36) entering Thursday's action, and a 1
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