The Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets tried to clear up the top of the Western Conference playoff picture Tuesday night, but the middle was still a mess heading into the final two days of the season.
If the Lakers and Hornets both won, they clinched the top two spots in the West. New Orleans did its part, beating the Clippers 114-92 to lock up the Southwest Division title and at least the No. 2 seed.
The Lakers hosted Sacramento later Tuesday, needing a victory to secure home-court advantage throughout the conference finals.
There would then remain a chance for a four-way tie for third place, depending on the results of games Wednesday, the last night of the regular season.
San Antonio, Utah, Phoenix and Houston would all be battling for that spot, which would go to the Spurs if they beat the Northwest Division champion Jazz. However, Utah would move up to No. 3 with a victory because it would then own the tiebreaker advantage against all three teams.
The bottom two spots also remain unsettled. Dallas will earn the No. 7 seed by beating New Orleans on Wednesday. If the Mavericks lose, Denver would finish seventh if it beats visiting Memphis.
The East playoff bracket is set. Top-seed Boston faces No. 8 Atlanta; No. 2 Detroit opens against No. 7 Philadelphia; Southeast Division champion Orlando is the third seed and meets No. 6 Toronto; and defending East champ Cleveland and No. 5 Washington hook up for the third straight year in the first round.
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