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NBA Sunday: Rankings, 24-second clock

Published: Saturday, March 12 2011 9:23 p.m. MST

NBA rankings

1. Lakers: Despite the loss to the Heat, they showed they're still the team to beat.

2. Spurs: Loss to the Lakers was humbling, but they rebounded quite nicely with three wins.

3. Bulls: They are the league's hottest team, and coming off a thorough beating of the Jazz.

4. Mavericks: Their hot streak had to end at some point, and they've lost three of five.

5. Celtics: They suffered disappointing losses to Clippers and 76ers during the week.

6. Heat: Victory over the Los Angeles Lakers may have been the breakthrough win they needed.

7. Magic: After Stan Van Gundy was silenced by David Stern, they blew a big lead vs. the Warriors.

8. Thunder: Scored more than 100 points in six straight games, winning five of them.

9. Nuggets: George Karl has reinvented his team in a good way since the Carmelo trade.

10. Grizzlies: Had two huge wins over the Mavs and Thunder before losing to Knicks and Heat.

Game of the week

Spurs at Mavericks

March Madness comes to the NBA's Western Conference when these two powerhouses collide on Friday night. The Spurs, who have taken two of the last three from the Mavericks, still lead Dallas by seven games in the West. It's a must-win game for the home team.

Who's hot

New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams' new team has won four straight games. It is the first time the Nets have had a four-game winning streak in more than two years. Williams, who has averaged 15.8 points and 15.2 assists in five games with New Jersey, sat out the Nets' last two victories because of personal reasons.

Chicago Bulls: They've won six straight games since blowing a 19-point lead against the Hawks, beating solid teams such as the Magic, Heat, Hawks (in a rematch) and Hornets.

Who's not

Indiana Pacers: They're almost playing themselves out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have lost six straight games with the defeats coming by an average of 15.8 points per contest. Indiana, which shot 29.6 percent against Minnesota on Wednesday, has lost 10 of 13 games.

Sacramento Kings: They entered their game against the Hornets on Saturday 0-5 in March. They did play teams tough though, losing to Portland by five, Utah in overtime, San Antonio by five and Orlando by just four points.

MVP watch

1. Derrick Rose, Bulls: He had 34 points, six rebounds and five assists against the Hawks on Friday.

2. Dwight Howard, Magic: The time he spent working with Hakeem Olajuwon has paid off as he's developed a more polished offensive game.

3. LeBron James, Heat: Helped Miami to a much-needed win with 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds against the Lakers.

4. Kobe Bryant, Lakers: Showed how much he cares, putting in a workout after loss to Heat on Thursday.

By the numbers

12 — The Utah Jazz defeated the Toronto Raptors for the 12th consecutive time on Wednesday night. That is the Jazz's longest winning streak against a team since they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 15 consecutive times from 1999-2002.

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