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Jason Jones, Sacramento Kings beat writer

The Bee’s Jason Jones: Ranking the NBA

01/04/2014 7:01 PM

01/05/2014 12:23 AM

By Jason Jones |

(All stats and records through Friday)

With injuries piling up, the goal for contenders is to be healthy in April for the playoffs.

• 1. Indiana Pacers (25-6, last week 3): Indiana has the best point differential in the NBA at plus 8.9.

• 2. Miami Heat (24-8, LW 4): Portland saw last week that Chris Bosh can still be more than a sidekick to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

• 3. Portland Trail Blazers (26-7, LW 2): Rookie sharpshooter C.J. McCollum could make his debut Tuesday in Sacramento.

• 4. Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7, LW 1): Oklahoma City blew leads against Portland and Brooklyn without injured star Russell Westbrook.

• 5. San Antonio Spurs (25-8, LW 5): The Spurs have had struggles against upper-echelon teams and lost at home to woeful New York.

• 6. Los Angeles Clippers (23-12, LW 7): Chris Paul is out three to five weeks with a separated shoulder; Golden State is on the Clippers’ heels.

• 7. Golden State Warriors (22-13, LW 9): Andre Iguodala’s second buzzer-beater of the season sent Warriors’ winning streak to eight.

• 8. Houston Rockets (22-13, LW 6): Poor defense will keep the Rockets from contending.

• 9. Phoenix Suns (19-12, LW 8): Jeff Hornacek was December Western Conference Coach of the Month; could be Coach of the Year.

• 10. Dallas Mavericks (19-14, LW 10): Rick Carlisle is a contender for Coach of the Year.

• 11. Atlanta Hawks (18-15, LW 11): Hawks still trying to hang onto a top-four spot in the East with Al Horford out.

• 12. Toronto Raptors (16-15, LW 19): Winners of five in a row and playing better since dealing Rudy Gay to Sacramento.

• 13. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-16, LW 12): Ricky Rubio directs one of the NBA’s highest-scoring teams.

• 14. New Orleans Pelicans (15-16, LW 15): Tyreke Evans has found his niche.

• 15. Washington Wizards (14-16, LW 16): Inconsistency keeps the Wizards from rising.

• 16. Denver Nuggets (15-17, LW 13): Mired in Brian Shaw-Andre Miller drama lately.

• 17. Memphis Grizzlies (14-18, LW 20): Dominant play from Zach Randolph is Memphis’ best chance to win with Marc Gasol still out.

• 18. Los Angeles Lakers (14-19, LW 18): Kendall Marshall goes from the D-League to starting at point guard for injury-plagued Lakers.

• 19. Detroit Pistons (14-19, LW 17): Pistons are on a three-game losing streak but still a playoff team in the East.

• 20. Chicago Bulls (13-18, LW 22): Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are left to carry the Bulls.

• 21. Charlotte Bobcats: (14-20, LW 14): Entered weekend with a five-game losing streak.

• 22. Boston Celtics (13-20, LW 21): Dropped eight of 11 after a stretch of improvement.

• 23. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-21, LW 23): Cavs pulled off a comeback and overtime win over Orlando with Kyrie Irving out with a knee injury.

• 24. Brooklyn Nets: (11-21, LW 24): Their comeback win at Oklahoma City might be the highlight of a disappointing season.

• 25. Philadelphia 76ers (11-21, LW 29): Found footing during a three-game winning streak.

• 26. Kings (10-21, LW 25): DeMarcus Cousins leads all centers at 23.1 points per game.

• 27. Utah Jazz (11-25, LW 26): Trey Burke has been a positive as Utah is 5-5 in its last 10.

• 28. New York Knicks (10-22, LW 27): Big win in San Antonio won’t save season.

• 29. Orlando Magic (10-22, LW 28): Team plans to push for Arron Afflalo to make the All-Star team.

• 30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-25, LW 30): In Bucks’ last win, Brandon Knight scored a career-high 37 points.

About This Blog

Jason Jones, who joined The Sacramento Bee in 2002, has covered the Kings since 2008. Jones, a UC Berkeley graduate, also has covered high school sports, the Oakland Raiders and the Sacramento Monarchs for The Bee. Contact him at Twitter: @mr_jasonjones

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