“Even though we’re not in the playoff race right now, we’re dangerous because we’re fighting to get in,” Utah guard Raja Bell said. “Some of these teams are already in. If your concentration isn’t there, we might get you.”
The Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 88-83 on Monday behind 21 points from Gordan Giricek. Andrei Kirilenko added 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots for Utah, which climbed back to .500 and moved within 1 1/2 games of eighth-place Denver for the final playoff spot in the West.
Most predicted a dismal season for the Jazz after they lost the surefire Hall of Fame tandem of John Stockton and Karl Malone this past offseason, but coach Jerry Sloan has kept the team competitive throughout the campaign.
Giricek, who was back after missing two games to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter, helped the Jazz to their fifth win in seven games.
Utah point guard Carlos Arroyo injured his back while diving into the stands for a loose ball during the third quarter of Monday’s game. His status for Wednesday’s game has not been revealed.
The Warriors, 7 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, dropped their fifth in a row Tuesday despite a strong effort in a 96-92 loss to the Western Conference-leading Sacramento Kings.