Lakers do Mavs no favors in Denver

First Kobe Bryant doesn't suit up. Then, after the remaining Los Angeles Lakers pushed the Denver Nuggets to the wire, they couldn't finish the job.

That allowed the Nuggets to take over the second seed in the jammed Western Conference standings all alone, a half-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, who play tonight at Portland, and the Phoenix Suns, who play at Oklahoma City.

The Utah Jazz, positioned one-half game behind Dallas and Phoenix in the fifth seed, plays at New Orleans.

Here's the remaining schedules for the fighting four:

Dallas: @Portland (tonight); @Sacramento (Sat); @LAC (Mon); vs. San Antonio (Wed)

Phoenix: @OKC (tonight); vs. Houston (Sun); vs. Denver (Tues); @Utah (Wed)

Denver: vs. San Antonio (Sat); vs. Memphis (Mon); @Phoenix (Tue)

Utah: @New Orleans (tonight); @Golden State (Tues); vs. Phoenix (Wed)