(Records and statistics through Friday)
More than halfway through the season, Kevin Durant has established himself as the favorite to win the league MVP award, highlighted by a spectacular January. Durant scored 30 or more points in 12 consecutive games, a streak that ended only because the Thunder were routing Brooklyn and Durant did not stay in the game to pad his statistics. There’s still a lot of season left, but Durant has shown whether it’s against contenders like Miami or losing teams, he’s going to be at his best every night.
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• 1. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-10, Last week 2): The eventual return of Russell Westbrook from knee surgery might make the Thunder the favorite to win the West.
• 2. Indiana Pacers (35-10, LW 1): How will Andrew Bynum’s attitude play in the locker room?
• 3. Portland Trail Blazers (33-13, LW 4): Dropped their last two games but hardly the team in the West with the most problems.
• 4. Miami Heat (32-13, LW 5): Don’t count LeBron James out of the MVP race just yet.
• 5. Los Angeles Clippers (33-16, LW 6): DeAndre Jordan has played like one of the NBA’s most improved players this season.
• 6. San Antonio Spurs (33-13, LW 3): Manu Ginobili joins Kawhi Leonard among the many injured Spurs.
• 8. Phoenix Suns (28-18, LW 9): Suns made scoring against Indiana look easy twice in sweeping the season series.
• 9. Golden State Warriors (29-19, LW 8): Harrison Barnes remains in a sophomore slump but was invited to the Rising Stars Challenge.
• 10. Dallas Mavericks (27-21, LW 10): Dirk Nowitzki posted back-to-back efforts with 30 or more points last week.
• 11. Toronto Raptors (25-21, LW 11): Kyle Lowry might be the biggest East snub from the All-Star Game roster.
• 12. Memphis Grizzlies (25-20, LW 12): On a five-game winning streak and back in the mix for a playoff spot.
• 13. Atlanta Hawks (24-21, LW 13): Jeff Teague could argue he should have been an All-Star, too.
• 14. Chicago Bulls (23-22, LW 15): Bulls average 92.8 points and give up 92.8 points per game, so it’s a close game most nights.
• 15. Washington Wizards (22-23, LW 14): Addition of Marcin Gortat could help the Wizards make the playoffs.
• 16. Brooklyn Nets (20-24, LW 16): Lost their last two, but the latter defeat was to OKC. Nets are still winners of 10 of their last 13.
• 17. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-23, LW 17): Can this team put together a string of games to get a few games above .500?
• 18. Denver Nuggets (22-23, LW 18): Nate Robinson (knee) is out for the season.
• 19. Charlotte Bobcats (21-27, LW 19): Al Jefferson (40 points) had a good time against the Lakers’ defense on Friday .
• 20. New York Knicks (19-27, LW 21): Have won four in a row – a big deal in the East.
• 21. New Orleans Pelicans (19-26, LW 24): Might Anthony Davis be an injury replacement in the All-Star Game hosted by New Orleans?
• 22. Detroit Pistons (18-27, LW 22): Has to be angst, considering the high expectations.
• 23. Utah Jazz (16-30, LW 26): The Jazz has been going small with Derrick Favors at center.
• 24. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-30, LW 20): The addition of Luol Deng hasn’t helped yet.
• 25. Kings (15-31, LW 23): No DeMarcus Cousins has led to six losses in a row.
• 26. Los Angeles Lakers (16-31, LW 25):Could start getting some healthy guards back.
• 27. Philadelphia 76ers (15-32, LW 27): Does Spencer Hawes become more valuable to contenders near the trading deadline?
• 28. Boston Celtics (15-33, LW 28: Losers of their last four as Rajon Rondo works his way back from knee surgery.
• 29. Orlando Magic (13-35, LW 29): Arron Afflalo believed he should have been an All-Star, but the Magic’s record didn’t help his case.
• 30. Milwaukee Bucks (8-38, LW 30): The latest losing streak is five games.