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.
The Jazz play at Portland on Friday, while the Lakers on Thursday were at Milwaukee, a team they defeated by 16 points in January.
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.