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San Antonio Spurs' playoff hopes hampered after back-to-back losses in L.A.

From NBA media reports

The San Antonio Spurs’ playoff hopes are still alive as of this morning. After an 0-2 trip through Los Angeles, though, the Spurs’ opportunity to seal up a spot just got tougher.

Losses to the Los Angeles Lakers last night and playoff-chasing LA Clippers on Tuesday have the Spurs at No. 5 in the Western Conference. They are tied with the No. 6-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and a half-game behind the No. 4-seeded Utah Jazz (who own the tie-breaker with the Spurs).

After falling to the lottery-bound Lakers last night, the Spurs’ veterans know they are running out of time to get their playoff place in order. Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News has more from LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Dejounte Murray on the loss last night:

If the Spurs are to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-97 season, they likely will have to win at least two more games.

Bottom line: Their margin of error is seriously thin now.

“It gets slimmer and slimmer as the games that are left are less,” Gasol said.

“We blew two opportunities to have a great road trip,” said LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a team-high 28 points against the Lakers to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. “We have to go home and take care of business, play with a sense of urgency.”

“One thing I can say is we are staying together,” Murray said. “I’m confident in everybody in this room. We are going to go out and go to war with each other and try to pull out these two games at home.”

San Antonio has three games left in its season. On Saturday, the Spurs host the No. 3-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (9 ET, NBA League Pass) and on Monday they host the lottery-bound Sacramento Kings (8:30 ET, NBA League Pass). Their season finale is a Wednesday road game against the New Orleans Pelicans (8 ET, NBA League Pass). The Pelicans — as well as the Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers — are currently fighting to nab the West’s No. 8 spot.

The Spurs were out of the playoff chase and No. 10 in the West after losing to the Houston Rockets on March 12. They then ran off six straight wins and went 8-4 over their last 12 games to get back into the playoff picture. In fact, just four days ago San Antonio was the No. 4 seed in the West. But those losses in L.A. — coupled with Utah’s three straight wins and other moves in the standings — have pushed the Spurs further down the pecking order.

(At the All-Star break, the Spurs were 35-24 and held the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.)

Already, the Spurs are assured of their first season without 50 wins since 1996-97 (which was also the last time they failed to make the playoffs). From the drama surrounding superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, to this current race for a playoff spot to some players-only meetings, this season has been like no other in recent memory for the Spurs.

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