Team (Record) Comment (Last week’s position)

1. Utah (19-5): Hardest guy: Sloan asks what’s big deal as old guys go 4-0 in five nights. (1)

2. Miami (18-6): Riley, who waited so long to be coach of year, could be first to win four. (3)

3. Portland (19-5): Best pickup was most overlooked: Jim Jackson made J.R. Rider irrelevant. (5)


4. Orlando (18-7): Must be getting $5-million worth from Daly because Magic is shooting only 42%. (9)

5. Indiana (17-7): Dutch Boy’s feet hurt again: Smits’ average (15): down third season in row. (4)

6. San Antonio (16-9): He’s alive!: Tim Duncan kicks it up to 25 points, 11 rebounds in March. (6)

7. Lakers (17-9): This is Rodman’s world now and everyone else is just along for the ride. (2)

8. Houston (16-9): Barkley has been in bad mood all season; maybe he knows he picked wrong team. (7)

9. Philadelphia (14-9): Little biggest man: NBA’s leading scorer is 6 feet tall, weighs 165 pounds. (11)

10. Atlanta (14-11): If only he were twins: Detroit’s Gentry calls Smith game’s top shooting guard. (14)

11. New York (15-10): Ewing struggling--and he has two seasons after this, for total of $29 million! (16)

12. Minnesota (14-11): Agents, ingrates, now injuries: So far, doesn’t look like Timberwolves’ year. (10)

13. Seattle (12-10): If NBA thinks Karl was tough on Walker, better not listen to talk shows. (12)

14. Milwaukee (14-9): Can’t win: Brandon didn’t want to be there, Cassell hasn’t played there. (8)

15. Detroit (13-11): Pistons roll eyes as Bison’s average falls from last season’s 16 to 9. (13)

16. Cleveland (11-11): Before Lakers let Cavaliers score 100, went two weeks without getting 90. (19)

17. Phoenix (12-13): Toby Bailey went seven games before making a shot, but he’s over 50% in March. (15)

18. Sacramento (11-15): Abdul-Wahad first starting two guard in alphabet, last in threes with three. (18)

19. Toronto (10-12): Go figure: Oakley, Willis and kids off to best start in Raptor history. (23)

20. Boston (8-14): Prepare to submerge: Rick Pitino is already talking about next season. (17)

21. Charlotte (8-14): Good luck: At $8 million a year, Elden is now the highest-paid Hornet ever. (26)

22. Golden State (10-14)Oops: Traded spectacular Vince Carter for undersized Antawn Jamison. (20)

23. Washington (9-15): MJ was right. Pollin should sell Wizards or leave them out back for Goodwill. (22)

24. Chicago (7-17): Floyd doing it with four-guard lineup: Kukoc, Barry, Harper and Brown. (25)

25. New Jersey (4-19): Stephon shocked by Net defense! Maybe Falk can force trade back to Minnesota. (21)

26. Dallas (9-17): Not start Mavericks hoped for: Steve Nash averaging 8 points, shooting 35%. (24)

27. Denver (6-18): Lost 15 of last 16 on road in ‘96-97, went 2-39 last season, 0-12 now. (27)

28. Vancouver (5-20): Jackson: Never offered Reeves. Sounds right. At $11 million, who’d want him? (28)

29. Clippers (1-22): 76ers’ worst-ever 9-73 record is .110; Clippers at .043. (29)



When--Today. Time--9:30 a.m. PST TV--Channel 4.

* Story line--The Lakers, who have been on every Sunday but one, are the key to NBC’s amazing ratings, although lately, they’ve been more compelling as a soap opera than a basketball team. The overwrought drama continues as (we think): Rodman returns from dealing with his demons (on the Vegas strip): and an entire metropolitan area rises to boo Shaquille O’Neal.