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Suns watching Lakers/Jazz race for last playoff spot

With one week left in the NBA regular season, the Phoenix Suns will be watching the race for the last Western Conference playoff spot between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz.

The result holds a direct correlation to the who and when the Suns select in the 2013 NBA Draft.

If the Lakers do not make the playoffs, the Suns will get Los Angeles’ lottery pick. However, if the Lakers do make the playoffs, Phoenix will get the Miami Heat’s first round pick. This is all part of the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers in the offseason.

The Lakers are currently holding onto a half-game lead over the Jazz with four games remaining. Of those four games, L.A. faces three playoff teams — Golden State (45-33), San Antonio (57-20) and Houston (44-34). Kobe Bryant and the Lakers travel to Portland Wednesday night to take on the Trail Blazers (33-44) before returning home on Friday for a three-game home stand, finishing Wednesday night against the Rockets.

Utah has a much easier finish to the season on paper, as they play Minnesota (29-48) in back-to-back games. The Jazz will finish the season on the same night as the Lakers, traveling to Memphis (53-25) Wednesday night.