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Team (record): Comment (last week’s position)

1. Portland (21-10): Kemp, Davis miss drills, but real guys turn it around at Staples, Utah. (5)

2. Lakers (22-10): Jackson’s “malaise” stuff looks like nice way of telling Shaq to turn it up. (2)

3. Philadelphia (21-8): They’re mad at Larry! Allen’s out! Going down the tubes! Wait, Allen’s back! (7)

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4. Sacramento (20-8): Pardon me? Holding teams to 41.5%. Winning by 8 a game to Lakers’ 4.7. (4)

5. San Antonio (19-11): Popovich rails that Spurs are soft, but the real problem is Duncan isn’t carrying them. (3)

6. Utah (20-11): Oops: Mailman has been under 20 points in seven of his last nine games. (1)

7. Charlotte (20-11): Hornets carved up Eastern teams, but now they’re out here and they’re the entree. (8)

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8. Phoenix (18-10): If Suns wondered how they shape up vs. West elite, Lakers just showed them. (6)

9. Dallas (20-12): Like Nelson’s fun, high-scoring Warrior teams, but the Mavericks can’t keep this up. (9)

10. Minnesota (17-14): Looks like Szczerbiak has problem with teammates too, starting with Garnett. (11)

11. Seattle (17-14): Ewing, whose previous career low was last season’s 15 a game, at 9.7. (10)

12. New York (19-12): Rice, whose previous career low was 13.6 as a rookie in 1990, is at 12.8. (13)

13. Milwaukee (16-13): Someone tell Karl to stop calling the Bucks names, they’re doing OK now. (14)

14. Miami (18-14): He’s not Kobe but who is? Jones rising to challenge, at 20.1 this month. (15)

15. Toronto (15-15): Wilkens is a veterans’ coach but he could play Alvin Williams, Morris Peterson more. (16)

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16. Cleveland (16-12): Another foot injury imperiling Cavaliers’ season and Ilgauskas’ career. (12)

17. Denver (16-15): Kronke says Issel safe for now. Players celebrate in home loss to Raptors. (17)

18. Houston (14-15): Reality sets in: Lost six in a row and five of them were at home. (18)

19. Orlando (14-16): Hill’s seven-year, $94-million contract is now a six-year, $94-million contract. (21)

20. Detroit (13-17): Ben Wallace shows Magic what they lost in 19-rebound, four-block homecoming. (20)

21. Indiana (13-18): If they’re going to finals, as Isiah says, Pacers better get a move on. (19)

22. Atlanta (10-20): Rise of Jason Terry, Roshown MacLeod, Lorenzen Wright offers some hope. (24)

23. Boston (12-18): On bright side, looks like Pitino will leave Celtics a nice slot in lottery. (22)

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24. Clippers (10-21): That was their NBA finals; young lions just missed bagging a fat cat. (23)

25. Golden State (10-20): Good enough to do better if Warriors could tighten up that No. 29 defense. (25)

26. New Jersey (9-20): Van Horn expected back soon. Now if Scott can get Marbury off his back. (26)

27. Vancouver (8-22): 15 teams call to ask about Bibby so now Versace says he’ll keep him. (27)

28. Washington (5-25): The players are upset at Jordan, and you can bet feeling’s mutual. (28)

29. Chicago (4-25): There’s always a silver lining: Bulls ahead of last season’s 3-26 start. (29)

GAME OF THE WEEK

UTAH AT LAKERS

* When--Wednesday. * Time--7:30 p.m.

* TV--Fox Sports Net

* Story line--We’ve gotten used to seeing the venerable Jazz upend the young Lakers, so Utah’s 97-92 victory here in their first meeting--right after the Lakers got their rings--wasn’t such a stunner. Nevertheless, the Lakers will want a piece of them and here they come.


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