Jason Jones: Ranking the NBA

Published: Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014 - 12:14 am
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014 - 7:26 pm

By Jason Jones | jejones@sacbee.com

All stats and records through Friday

• 1. Oklahoma City Thunder (46-16, last week 3): Russell Westbrook is regaining his form, and the Thunder is better as a result.

• 2. San Antonio Spurs (45-16, LW 4): Their health is improving, and they have won five in a row.

• 3. Houston Rockets (43-19, LW 6): Shouldn’t Dwight Howard or James Harden be included in the MVP conversation?

• 4. Los Angeles Clippers (43-20, LW 5): The Clippers have won six straight as Blake Griffin has raised his play.

• 5. Indiana Pacers (46-16, LW 1): The Pacers clinched a playoff berth but have lost three in a row and allowed Miami back into the hunt for the top seed in the East.

• 6. Miami Heat (43-16, LW 2): Consecutive losses in Texas made LeBron James’ career-high 61 points a distant memory.

• 7. Portland Trail Blazers (42-20, LW 7): Portland lost at home to a bad Lakers team with a late defensive breakdown.

• 8. Golden State Warriors (39-24, LW 9): The Warriors continue to show they can win on the road as part of their three-game winning streak.

• 9. Dallas Mavericks (37-26, LW 8): Devin Harris came off the bench to help knock off Portland for a big win.

• 10. Phoenix Suns (36-25, LW 10): Gerald Green is a contender for Most Improved Player.

• 11. Memphis Grizzlies (35-26, LW 11): The playoff-tested bunch is lurking around the eighth spot in the West and would be a tough first-round opponent.

• 12. Toronto Raptors (34-26, LW 13): Toronto beat both Northern California teams to move eight games above .500 for the first time since February 2008.

• 13. Chicago Bulls (34-28, LW 12): They need offense, so the interest in Jimmer Fredette makes sense.

• 14. Washington Wizards (32-29, LW 14): Trevor Ariza’s play has helped keep lottery pick Otto Porter on the bench.

• 15. Minnesota Timberwolves (31-30, LW 16): Nikola Pekovic’s injury has kept one of the best centers in the league sidelined.

• 16. Brooklyn Nets (30-30, LW 15): It’s still possible to catch Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

• 17. Charlotte Bobcats (29-33, LW 17): The Bobcats have won their last two since giving up 61 points to LeBron James in a loss.

• 18. Atlanta Hawks (26-34, LW 18): The latest losing streak is up to five games.

• 19. Denver Nuggets (27-34, LW 20): Ty Lawson is back and playing well, so the Nuggets will be tougher to beat.

• 20. New Orleans Pelicans (25-37, LW 21): After losing eight straight, the Lakers and Bucks were just what New Orleans needed to starting winning again.

• 21. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-39, LW 19): Cancel those good vibes – the Cavs have dropped three in a row and are getting closer to the lottery again.

• 22. Detroit Pistons (24-38, LW 22): Something is off with a roster that has enough talent to be a playoff team in the East.

• 23. New York Knicks (23-40, LW 26): It makes for fun discussion, but does anyone think Phil Jackson would really coach this team?

• 24. Kings (22-40, LW 25): The Kings are the only team with three players averaging 20 or more points; don’t have many wins to show for it.

• 25. Utah Jazz (21-41, LW 23): Another team in a late-season skid – five losses in a row.

• 26. Los Angeles Lakers (21-41, LW 24): The Lakers lost by 48 to the Clippers; defense is embarrassingly bad.

• 27. Boston Celtics (21-41, LW 27): Avery Bradley could return soon after being out more than a month with an ankle injury.

• 28. Orlando Magic (19-44, LW 28): The fans weren’t nearly as rough on Howard in his second return to Orlando.

• 29. Milwaukee Bucks (12-49, LW 29): Milwaukee had two players suspended for hitting opponents in two games – Ersan Ilyasova and O.J. Mayo.

• 30. Philadelphia 76ers (15-46, LW 30): Not much nice to say about a 15-game losing streak.

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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