NBA Sunday

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 7 2015 12:09 p.m. MDT

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Top 10

1. Spurs: Finished nine-game rodeo road trip with loss to Chicago, but still ahead in West.

2. Celtics: Banged-up veteran team needs to get healthy to hold off younger teams in East.

3. Heat: Enter All-Star break having won 10 of 11 games, but still can't solve the Celtics.

4. Bulls: No doubting their legitimacy after they beat San Antonio on Thursday night.

5. Mavericks: Should start making the Spurs nervous after winning 13 of their last 14.

6. Magic: Haven't been the most consistent contender in East, but did win four of five before break.

7. Lakers: Were so bad during three-game losing streak they left coach Phil Jackson speechless.

8. Thunder: In command of Northwest Division thanks to struggles of Nuggets, Jazz.

9. Grizzlies: Hard-charging Memphis is 19-9 since Christmas, tied for eighth in West.

10. Trail Blazers: Suddenly Oklahoma City's biggest threat in the Northwest Division.

Game of the week

Jazz at Mavericks

The Jazz talked about the All-Star break coming at a perfect time so they could recharge. We'll see how much it helped when they play one of the league's hottest teams on Wednesday. To have a shot, Utah needs injured starters Raja Bell and Andrei Kirilenkoto to return.

24 second clock

MULLIN CLOSE TO ADDING TO DREAM TEAM LEGACY: With Chris Mullin being named a finalist for the basketball Hall of Fame, the Dream Team from the 1992 Olympics moved one step closer to perfection.

Inducted as a unit last year, the 1992 Dream Team has been nearly as dominant in individual Hall of Famers as it was on the court, with 10 of the 12 players on the team already enshrined.

Mullin, who retired after the 2000-01 season, would be the 11th if he is elected.

A dominant player for St. John's, Mullin went on to star for the Golden State Warriors. He was selected to five consecutive All-Star Games from 1988 to 1992, a stretch in which he never averaged less than 25.1 points.

The one holdout who may stop the Dream Team from unanimous election is Christian Laettner, the team's lone college player. Laettner had a steady if unspectacular 13-year NBA career, so his chances rest entirely on his career at Duke. Should he fail to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Laettner can fall back on the more than $61 million he earned during his NBA career.

MONEY FOR SOMETHING: After an off-season in which free agency dominated the headlines, it seems fitting that many who were high-profile free agents can be found on the statistical leader boards going into the All-Star break.

The biggest prize, Miami's LeBron James, is right where he was last season, trailing only Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward, in scoring. Somewhat surprisingly, Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks' top off-season acquisition, is tied with James at 26.1 points a game.

The less-heralded Knicks free agent, Raymond Felton, has managed to crack the league's top five in assists (fifth at 9.0 a game) and steals (fifth at 1.8 a game).

Those things could have been predicted. But Darko Milicic, the enigmatic center for the Minnesota Timberwolves, was probably not picked by many to be among the league leaders in anything short of dollars per minute played.

But Milicic, a 7-foot Serb who was signed to a deal guaranteeing him $16 million, has shown a propensity for blocked shots that has him third in the league at 2.3 blocks a game, trailing only Andrew Bogut and JaVale McGee.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, Milicic's statistical renown ends at blocks, as he is still showing an inability to rebound.

—New York Times News Service

Who's hot

Portland Trail Blazers: They have won six straight games for the first time since November of 2009, and they'll get starters Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby back soon after the All-Star break.

Golden State Warriors: They have won seven of their last nine games. They've also defeated the last six teams they've played with winning records, including the Jazz on Wednesday.

Dwight Howard, Magic: He has shot at least 80 percent from the field and scored more than 30 points in his last two games.

Who's not

Atlanta Hawks: They lost three of four before the All-Star break and are an average 8-7 in their last 15 games.

Utah Jazz: At 4-13 in their last 17 games, they've been one of the worst teams in the league during that stretch.

Los Angeles Lakers: Reigning NBA champs followed up a solid stretch with losses to the Magic, Bobcats and Cavaliers. That's the same Cavs team they beat by 55 points earlier this season.

Paul Pierce, Celtics: Scored one point on 0-for-10 shooting against the Heat.

MVP watch

1. Derrick Rose, Bulls: Kept Chicago afloat despite injuries before the break.

2. LeBron James, Heat: Numbers are ridiculous in recent weeks.

3. Dwight Howard, Magic: Efficient on offense and dominant on defense. He still can struggle at the free-throw line though.

4. Kevin Durant, Thunder: Can score in different ways, and leads a team that will be a difficult out in the playoffs.

5. Amare Stoudemire, Knicks: Presence has helped Knicks matter again.

By the numbers

10 — The New York Knicks, at 28-26, have a winning record at the All-Star break for the first time in 10 seasons.

30/10 — When Phoenix's Channing Frye had 31 points and 11 rebounds against the Jazz on Tuesday, it was the first 30/10 game of his career. He has played in 413 games.

99 — The Lakers hadn't lost a regular season game by 20 points in 99 contests before they were routed 109-89 by the Bobcats on Monday night.

16 — Minnesota has been beaten 16 straight times by two teams — the Spurs and Blazers.

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