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.

Popovich on whether the team doctors had given him any indication that Duncan might not be ready for the start of the playoffs: "No, no, no."

—Compiled from wire services

Who's hot

Los Angeles Lakers: The reigning champions have been outstanding in March. They are 10-1 and beat contending teams such as the Spurs, Mavericks and Magic.

Houston Rockets: They are one of the hottest teams in the league, winning five straight and going 5-1 on a six-game homestand. They are within striking distance of eighth-place Memphis and could find a way to sneak into the playoffs.

Miami Heat: They've won seven of their last eight games, which started with a victory over the Lakers.

Who's not

Atlanta Hawks: There are times when you wonder how the Hawks have a winning record, like when they lost to the Bulls by 33 points on Tuesday. They had lost four of their last five games entering their matchup against the Nets on Saturday.

Golden State Warriors: What happened to them? They were on the brink of challenging for a playoff spot by finishing strong before the All-Star break. But they lost six straight games before beating the Raptors on Friday, and coach Keith Smart's job is in jeopardy.

MVP watch

1. Derrick Rose, Bulls: Fans chanted "MVP, MVP" during a game this week — on the road in Atlanta. Rose had 30 points in the first three quarters of Chicago's 114-81 victory over the Hawks. He made three 3-pointers right before halftime, and that's when fans began their MVP chant.

2. Dwight Howard, Magic: His team hasn't been as consistent as Rose's.

3. Kevin Durant, Thunder: He still leads the league in scoring, but he can't lose games to the Raptors during an MVP bid.

By the numbers

9 — Before their 121-117 loss to New Orleans on Thursday, the Jazz had won nine straight overtime games. The streak dated back to March of 2009.

2 — Houston got triple-doubles from two different players during the week. Kyle Lowry had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Jazz last Sunday. Chuck Hayes had 13 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists against Golden State on Wednesday.

133 — The Jazz were above .500 for 133 straight days before losing to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, falling to 36-36.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company