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TOP TO BOTTOM / NBA

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

1. Lakers (51-11): Everything just fell in place. Now to see if they can keep it there. (1)

2. Indiana (43-19): Even if Lakers bombed them, Pacers are still the effete, er, elite of the East. (3)

3. Utah (41-20): Song remains same: Since Russell returned to the lineup, Jazz is 34-15. (4)

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4. Portland (47-15): $73-million roster picked fine time to start giving up 100 points nightly. (2)

5. San Antonio (40-22): If last-second Marbury three had gone, Spurs would have been 0-3 in Alamodome. (7)

6. Phoenix (39-23): Still good, little team in big, bad West: Suns 15-4 until Jazz beat them at home. (6)

7. Miami (38-23): Riley: “I have great compassion for this team.” He means until trade deadline. (5)

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8. New York (37-24): Vince-sanity alert: Knicks lose three of four as Toronto roars up behind. (8)

9. Toronto (35-26): Gugliotta’s injury just opened up an Olympic team spot for guess who? (10)

10. Seattle (38-25): Maybe They Should Switch Conferences II: Another good, little long shot. (9)

11. Minnesota (37-25): Garnett having career year in scoring, assists, rebounds, three-point shooting . . . (11)

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12. Sacramento (36-25): Kings not at next level yet but on 5-1 run because Webber won’t let them drop. (13)

13. Philadelphia (34-26): Kukoc’s scoring down and Brown will have noticed he can’t guard a building. (12)

14. Charlotte (34-28): Jones on contract run, averaging 20 points, three over career best. (14)

15. Detroit (30-31): Yes! Laimbeer, who hates modern players and most humans, wants to coach. (15)

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16. Orlando (30-32): You won’t believe this but: No-names are actually in a playoff slot. (17)

17. Milwaukee (29-33): Somebody better airlift Karl out before he bites somebody’s neck. (16)

18. New Jersey (26-36): Maybe they were a tad hasty: Marbury averaging 26 since All-Star snub. (20)

19. Boston (26-35): Hurtling ever faster toward inevitable: Pitino says he can envision going. (24)

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20. Denver (26-36): It’s a young month, but Keon Clark is averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds. (18)

21. Cleveland (25-36): Murray has led Cavaliers in scoring since All-Star break. (22)

22. Houston (24-38): Young, coming free agent-to-be: Cuttino Mobley averaging 15 off bench. (19)

23. Dallas (25-37): Memo to Mark Cuban: The sun still rises in the East and Rodman is still Rodman. (21)

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24. Atlanta (24-37): How about this? In 10 days, Hawks lost to Clippers, Wizards, Warriors and Bulls. (23)

25. Washington (20-43): 4-2 run shows Wizards aren’t tanking. Next question: Why aren’t they? (27)

26. Vancouver (18-45): Big Overpriced Country is down to 9.1 points, 5.9 rebounds a game. (25)

27. Golden State (16-45): On the positive side, Warriors are losing more entertainingly these days. (26)

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28. Chicago (13-48): Just their luck: Bulls tanking for all they’re worth and Kenyon Martin gets hurt. (28)

29. Clippers (12-50): Guys second-guessing Todd, who’s 1-16. Looks like honeymoon may be over. (29)

GAME OF THE WEEK

SAN ANTONIO at NEW YORK

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When--Today. Time--3 p.m. TV--Channel 4.

* Story line--The Spurs return for the first time since romping to a title last spring, but it’s not the same. Now the attraction is seeing if they can pull it back together, or if they go so far south that Tim Duncan, the upcoming free agent, leaves. This isn’t an easy test; the Knicks are 25-7 in Madison Square Garden.


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