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THE TIMES’ RANKINGS

NBA RANKINGS AND COMMENTS

GAME OF THE WEEK

*--* Rnk Team (rec.) Comment (last week’s position) 1 SAN ANTONIO (48-20) Defensive team that once lacked athletes, firepower averaging 102 since break. (1) 2 SACRAMENTO (49-21) Times a’changed: Kings shoot 46.5%, allow 41.9%, league’s best differential. (2) 3 LAKERS (39-29) They’re actually back. Unfortunately, while they were away, rivals improved. (5) 4 DALLAS (52-17) Mavericks better than they were too, but teams ahead of them are bigger, stronger. (3) 5 MINNESOTA (45-26) Timberwolves win in San Antonio as Garnett gets 24-18-8 to Duncan’s 29-12-2. (6) 6 PORTLAND (44-25) Trying to hold off Timberwolves for home court with Pippen out for three weeks. (4) 7 DETROIT (43-25) In latest test of who’s best in East, Pistons beat 76ers by little margin of 28. (8) 8 PHILADELPHIA (40-28) Keep that UCLA job open: 15-2 run slams to halt in losses to Pistons, Hawks. (7) 9 UTAH (40-29) Another of today’s kids gets Mailmanned: Malone 34, Amare Stoudemire 17. (11) 10 INDIANA (41-29) Latest suspension means Artest down to $1.6 million this season from $1.9 million. (9) 11 NEW JERSEY (42-27) Oops: Nets 8-12 since the break and just got pounded by the Bucks by 19 at home. (10) 12 NEW ORLEANS (40-31) Mashburn is East’s only player averaging 20 points, six rebounds, five assists. (13) 13 HOUSTON (36-32) Win over Suns last week gave Rockets season series, 3-1, and tiebreaker. (14) 14 PHOENIX (36-33) Stoudemire vs. Yao (cont.): Suns 36-46 a year ago. Of course, Rockets were 28-54. (15) 15 BOSTON (38-32) Celtic Mystique R.I.P.: 6-45 on three-pointers in back-to-back routs by Nets, Pacers. (12) 16 ORLANDO (37-33) Just went 3-0 vs. cupcakes, which is good because six of eight in April on road. (16) 17 MILWAUKEE (33-36) New game’s best backcourt: Payton, Cassell, Michael Redd averaging combined 55. (17) 18 GOLDEN STATE (33-36) Good, young, unknown: Troy Murphy bumps rookie numbers, 6-4, up to 12-10. (19) 19 NEW YORK (31-39) Houston, roasted for not being $14 million worth, averaging 29 in March run. (21) 20 SEATTLE (32-36) Campbell mentors SuperSonic kids. Of course, he has time on hands as No. 3 center. (20) 21 WASHINGTON (32-36) Farewell tour: West trip starts with Jordan scorching Wizards worse than Suns did. (18) 22 MEMPHIS (25-44) Having so much fun, Grizzlies don’t want to stop: Brown’s kids just went 7-1. (22) 23 CHICAGO (25-45) When going gets tough, they fall apart: Bulls 21-12 at home, 3-33 on road. (23) 24 ATLANTA (29-42) Ted Turner says he can’t buy back Braves. No one even asks if he’d want Hawks. (24) 25 TORONTO (21-46) Mr. Perceptive: Grunwald, about to make Wilkens walk plank, is “disappointed.” (25) 26 MIAMI (22-47) He’s not their equal, but Butler’s 15 points a game leads Yao and Amare. (26) 27 CLIPPERS (22-47) Olowokandi hasn’t ruled out possibility he will stay. Unfortunately, they have. (27) 28 DENVER (15-55) Even if they weren’t ready, NBA people think Hilario, Tskitishvili will be good. (28) 29 CLEVELAND (12-56) Knee injury ends Wagner’s season. Posted monthly averages of 20-17-11-12-9. (29)

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LAKERS AT SAN ANTONIO

When -- Today. Time -- 10 a.m. TV -- Channel 7


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