NBA Sunday: Rankings and 24 second clock

Published: Saturday, March 26 2011 7:00 p.m. MDT

NBA Rankings

1. Lakers: They've won the first five games of a seven-game homestand.

2. Spurs: Not the same team without Tim Duncan, which was obvious in last two losses.

3. Bulls: Had a couple of blowout victories before a tough game against Memphis on Friday.

4. Heat: Staying in contention for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

5. Thunder: Held six straight opponents to fewer than 100 points.

6. Mavericks: Beat two mediocre teams (Golden State, Minnesota) before facing the Jazz.

7. Celtics: Loss to Grizzlies was somewhat understandable. Loss to Bobcats was head-scratching.

8. Magic: After winning five straight games, they may be peaking at the right time.

9. Nuggets: Put losses in Florida behind them with three straight home victories.

10. Trail Blazers: Couldn't solve Lakers on Sunday, but earned huge win over Spurs on Friday.

Game of the week

The Lakers come to town on Friday night with one big disadvantage: they will have played a late contest the previous night against the Dallas Mavericks. The Jazz can use all the help they can get against Kobe Bryant and the reigning NBA champions.

24 second clock

HOBBLING ALONG: The left ankle injury suffered by San Antonio's Tim Duncan last week against Golden State is remarkably similar to one he suffered in 2005 in Detroit although it was his right ankle he hurt back then.

This time, Duncan injured his ankle on March 21 after he made a layup and came down on Ekpe Udoh 's foot. On March 20, 2005, he made a layup and came down on the ankle of Detroit's Rasheed Wallace. In 2005, Duncan returned on April 13, which was 24 days after he was hurt and he played in the final four regular-season games.

The Spurs have offered no timetable for Duncan to return from his current injury, but coach Gregg Popovich says he expects to have him back for the playoffs.

WELL-EDUCATED: Believe it or not, they're still talking in New Jersey about possibly making the playoffs. Or so they say anyway. "There's hope," said Nets center Brook Lopez . "It's definitely still a goal. We just don't want to ride out the season. That's why I went to Stanford, for the math to figure this out."

IS ROY ALRIGHT?: Portland's Brandon Roy, who has been hampered by knee problems, appeared to be back on track when he scored 21 points in 27 minutes against Dallas on March 15. But in the four games after that, he scored a total of 17 points on 5-of-25 shooting (20.0 percent) including one point on 0-of-6 shooting against Washington. Roy contends that he's feeling good and hasn't taken any steps back physically. Coach Nate McMillan says Roy hasn't complained about anything and is fine as far as he knows.

CHIPPING AWAY: The Heat thinks that it still has a chance to peck away at the lead Boston and Chicago has in the standings and move up in the Eastern playoff picture. But if they end up with the third seed for the playoffs, so be it.

"The first seed doesn't guarantee you anything," said Miami's Dwyane Wade . "I know I've been a part of a championship where we didn't have the first seed. It's just about getting ready for the playoffs and trying to be healthy and trying to be playing as good as we can when we get to that time."

FAST BREAKS: Miami's Chris Bosh on why he quit trying to keep tabs on all the Eastern playoff possibilities: "It's like watching grass grow."

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge says injured Jermaine O'Neal could return this week.

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