Utah Jazz Becoming Every Lakers Fan’s Best Friend

This is unfamiliar territory for Los Angeles Lakers fans.

It's not exactly on the same level as rooting for the Boston Celtics, but Lakers fans haven't always seen eye-to-eye with the Utah Jazz (via Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune). Considering that the teams have squared off with one another in three of the last five postseasons, it's a rivalry that's as obvious as it is overlooked.

Yet as the 2012-13 regular season enters its final turn, Lakers fans have a clear-cut second-favorite squad in the Jazz.

When Kobe Bryant suffered a severe ankle sprain in the waning seconds of the Lakers' 96-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Mar. 13, the door to the postseason was clearly closing.


But the slumping Jazz planted their feet firmly in the doorway, preventing it from ever completely shutting. Whatever Bryant's injury took out of L.A.'s playoff sails, Utah's 10 losses in 13 games have given back in hurricane-strength gusts.

If it seems remarkable that this Lakers team is even part of the playoff picture, that's because it should. They closed the season's first half with a forgettable 106-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. It was the Lakers' 25th defeat in their first 42 games, the 10th time they had traveled to the wrong end of the scoreboard in 12 games.

The Lakers deserve some credit for fighting their way back into the postseason. As always, with the aid of some masterful displays by Bryant, the team has won 19 of its 27 games since that loss to the Grizzlies.


Whether due to a new-found trust in coach Mike D'Antoni's ability to handle his roster or some less-than-appealing offers being thrown their way, the Lakers stood pat at the Feb. 21 trade deadline amid a flurry of rumors. 

That meant that Pau Gasol was safe (for now), and Dwight Howard would remain a Laker (at least through the end of this season). It also meant t...

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