1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Still figuring out how to best work Antawn Jamison into lineup.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Have a huge game today against Nuggets at Staples Center.
3. Denver Nuggets: Winning enough to keep Jazz just behind them in the Northwest standings.
4. Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard went 11-for-11 from field in recent win over the Rockets.
5. Utah Jazz: Will look to start a new road winning streak on Monday in L.A. vs. the Clippers.
6. Dallas Mavericks: Win over Lakers shows Mavs aren't going away in race for West's 2nd seed.
7. Atlanta Hawks: Team's top six players have missed a combined two games this season.
8. Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce's thumb is latest injury to slow down the 2008 champions.
9. Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's team has favorable schedule with just 10 road games left.
10. San Antonio Spurs: Earns this spot over Thunder by virtue of Wed.'s head-to-head win.
Game of the week
Jazz at Phoenix
This late, TNT-televised (8:30 p.m. tip) battle on Thursday will be a major test for Utah on the road. The Jazz had its 7-game road streak stopped Friday in Sacramento. Phoenix, meanwhile, has been playing better of late and is gunning for a top-4 seed in the West.
24 second clock
In the next month or so, high-caliber underclassmen in college basketball will mull over in earnest whether to enter the NBA draft. For some, the decision will be riskier this year than in the past.
Contentious talks be-tween the NBA and the players union pose the threat of a lockout in 2011, and some collegians might want the immediate payday instead of waiting and earning nothing next year if the league shuts down.
"The likelihood is people will panic" and enter the draft prematurely, agent David Falk, who represented Michael Jordan during his NBA career, told USA Today this week. "You should come out when you're ready to make an impact."
Falk said players expected to be drafted outside the top 10 should go back to school unless they have dire financial needs. …
Jason Terry and the Dallas Mavericks know they don't get rings for beating the Los Angeles Lakers in February.
What the revamped Mavericks do get from their victory over the defending champion is a sense that they can do it again if they meet in the playoffs.
"It does good for our confidence," Terry said. "If we do see them, this is a team that we will have confidence against."
Dallas made a big seven-player trade during the All-Star break that brought Caron Butler, 7-foot center Brendan Haywood and guard DeShawn Stevenson from Washington.
"They've always been talented, they've always put a good basketball team out there," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "I think (the trade) has given them energy."
Added Jason Kidd, "the chemistry is good. We started out in training camp pretty good and it deteriorated throughout the season for whatever reason. Now we make a big trade and guys come in that are hungry." …
Undrafted out of Purdue, Brad Miller of the Chicago Bulls is in his 12th season and, somehow, slower than when his career began.1 comment on this story
He's still effective, though, which is why Miller quelled any speculation this week that he might retire when his seven-year, $68 million contract ends after this season.
"You know with my basketball IQ, I think I can overcome the shortness of athleticism and quickness that I'm finally starting to lose at my age," Miller told the Chicago Tribune with his typically heavy wit.
On a more serious note, Miller, 33, said he would play for the league minimum if that's all the free-agent market yields after his $12.25 million salary this season.
— Compiled from wire services