Utah Jazz playing in the 'Northbest' division of the NBA

Published: Sunday, Jan. 22 2012 8:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA might consider a division name change.

Top to bottom, the Northwest is shaping up to be the Northbest (and that's definitely not a turkey reference).

"It's tough. It's tough," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "I think it's one of the toughest divisions in the league. But somebody's got to do it. Somebody's got to win it. We're going to fight to the end."

Not only does the Northwest boast the top two teams in the Western Conference in Oklahoma City (13-3) and Denver (12-5), but Utah is right there at 10-5 and Portland is 9-7.

And the division's worst team?

Yeah, that'd be the Timberwolves, who had a three-game winning streak snapped after a tough tussle in Utah on Saturday night. On-the-rise Minnesota (7-9) even beat the Pacific-leading Clippers in L.A. on Friday.

It's a clue you're in a good division when your weakest link has a better record than 13 other teams in the NBA, which the T-Wolves do.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin likes being in a division that will force his team to stay sharp.

"We understand that you have to come out and compete every night you step on the floor," he said, "especially in this division because it's going to be every night."

Jefferson said the Jazz are the team that matters the most in the division, of course.

"Coach Ty going to keep us sharp. That's who we're more concerned about — ourselves," he said. "We go out there and do the things that we know we can do and do the things that we're supposed to do, we're going to put ourselves in a position to win a lot of games."

Only one other division has four winning teams (Southwest), two have three winning teams (Central and Southeast), and the others have more losers than winners.

By the way, Utah has beaten three other division leaders — the Southwest's Memphis, the Clippers and the Atlantic's Sixers.

Email: jody@desnews.com. Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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