RankTeam (rec.) Comment (last week's position)

1 SAN ANTONIO (40-17)

People don't understand how good he'll be: Parker averaging 18 since Jan. 1. (2)

2 SACRAMENTO (41-19)

Before last week, Webber, Bibby, Jackson played four games together all season.(3)

3 DALLAS (45-14)

Mavericks now 0-3 vs. Kings, who come from nine down to beat them in Dallas again.(1)

4 MINNESOTA (39-21)

Career month: Garnett averages 28-14-6 in February as the team goes 12-1. (7)

5 PORTLAND (38-20)

Aren't blazing the way they were, but Lakers need outright collapse to pass them. (5)

6 LAKERS (32-26)

No. 5 slot would help a lot in playoffs, but they're six back. (4)

7 UTAH (33-25)

It's the dog days and the old guys are running down on the road. (6)

8 DETROIT (37-22)

Is this all there is? Pistons had best record in East before going 0-4 out here. (8)

9 INDIANA (38-21)

Kids aren't all right: Biggest, most talented team in East goes 0-6. (9)

10 NEW JERSEY (38-21)

Oops: 4-6 since break amid reports of friction between Scott, Kidd. (10)


How does little guy do it? Iverson averages league-high 42 minutes. (14)

12 BOSTON (33-25)

Union fumes as team suspends Baker while he enters detox for alcoholism. (11)

13 NEW ORLEANS (34-27)

Taking it to new level with Baron out, Mashburn averaged 26-7-6 in February. (13)

14 PHOENIX (31-28)

Kobe tabs Stoudemire for rookie of year, noting, "I don't think it's close." (15)

15 HOUSTON (30-28)

Stevie's not quite the franchise now: No. 13 in assists, Rockets need more. (12)

16 WASHINGTON (29-29) He has just been warming up: Since he turned 40, Jordan has averaged 28. (18)

17 ORLANDO (29-30)

McGrady's new best friends, Gooden and Giricek, averaging 19, 18 for Magic. (19)

18 GOLDEN STATE (29-30)

Progress of sort: Now Warriors have exciting young players who are always upset. (17)

19 SEATTLE (27-31)

A funny thing happened on their way down the tubes: SuperSonics go 5-1 after trade. (22)

20 MILWAUKEE (28-30)

They like each other! Cassell says he and Payton are "new age Frazier and Monroe." (16)

21 NEW YORK (25-33)

Scott says Knicks aren't even a rival. Proving it, Nets rout them by 29. (21)

22 TORONTO (17-38)

Carter may just be worried about knee. Or he may not get it and never will. (20)

23 CLIPPERS (19-39)

Next: Olowokandi will return, hoping to show knee's OK -- and they won't play him. (23)

24 MEMPHIS (18-40)

At Hubie's pace, Grizzlies would win 27, breaking club mark by four. (24)

25 CHICAGO (21-40)

Now Curry's happening too, averaging 18 after going back in starting lineup. (27)

26 ATLANTA (22-37)

Oops: GM Babcock tells players he didn't really shop every last one of them. (26)

27 MIAMI (19-39)

It's an expansion team again: Heat cuts ticket prices by almost 60%. (25)

28 CLEVELAND (11-47)

Keith Smart, whom Cavaliers considered a hot coaching prospect, is 3-12. (29)

29 DENVER (12-47)

Nuggets overachieved for a month, anyway. Since 5-9 start, they're 7-38. (28)




When -- Wednesday. Time --- 6 p.m. TV -- ESPN.

As good as the West teams are, it's hard to tell which is best, but from now own, they'll play each other often enough to provide a clue. The Kings are the insiders' tab as the best. The Timberwolves are surprising everyone again in an attempt to secure home-court advantage for the first time, finally get out of the first round and get the townspeople off their backs.

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