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THE TIMES’ RANKINGS

GAME OF THE WEEK

LAKERS AT SACRAMENTO

*--* Rk Team (Rec.) Comment (last week’s rank) 1 SAN ANTONIO (26-11) Since Dec. 5 when they were 10-10, Spurs have given up 90 points twice. (1) 2 SACRAMENTO (25-9) It helped that NBA’s best home team (18-2) was there for 20 of first 32. (2) 3 INDIANA (28-11) Young and wild last season, Pacers now have one of NBA’s top road records. (4) 4 MINNESOTA (24-11) Worried his knees may never be OK, Timberwolves have shopped Olowokandi.(5) 5 LAKERS (22-11) It’s not about injuries or mysterious lapses in execution, but chemistry. (3) 6 DETROIT (23-13) Why the meshugeh (Yiddish for wacko) is still around: Brown can coach. (10) 7 NEW JERSEY (20-15) If Scott survives this, it’ll be one of the great escapes of NBA history. (6) 8 NEW ORLEANS (22-15) Magloire went No. 19 in 2000 draft, but if the NBA did it over, he’d go higher. (7) 9 DALLAS (20-15) Oh, by the way, Mark Cuban is known to have a thing for Pat Riley. (9) 10 HOUSTON (20-15) With career-low numbers in new system, Francis gets heat, doesn’t like it. (11) 11 DENVER (22-15) Even Nugget officials said that 20-11 start wasn’t who they really were. (8) 12 SEATTLE (19-16) McMillan, next on Howard Schultz firing line, is actually doing a nice job. (13) 13 MILWAUKEE (20-17) Just went 8-0 at home including wins vs. Pacers, Pistons, Nets, Mavericks. (17) 14 UTAH (19-17) Little engine that could can’t afford to lose players like Matt Harpring. (12) 15 TORONTO (18-16) Artist formerly known as Vince doesn’t want back in dunk contest either. (14) 16 MEMPHIS (17-18) Hard part in the West is what happens after a team becomes pretty good. (16) 17 PHILADELPHIA (17-20) Oops: Word’s going around that Iverson was more miffed at team than hurt. (21) 18 PORTLAND (16-18) Duh. Stoudamire: “I hate to say this, but maybe this is a bad mix of players.” (15) 19 BOSTON (19-19) Another relapse and new Celtic owners will try to void Baker’s contract. (20) 20 CLIPPERS (15-18) If it’s possible to gain stature in a fight, Corey Maggette just did. (18) 21 GOLDEN STATE (15-20) Deja vu: Eric Musselman calls a play for Van Exel. Nick waves it off. (19) 22 MIAMI (15-22) Oops: Spectacular Wade and Haslem, who does dirty work, on injured list. (23) 23 NEW YORK (15-23) Now that Knicks are supposed to be good, charm’s off Chaney’s charmed life. (22) 24 CLEVELAND (11-25) Silas eager to pair returning Wagner with James in child backcourt. (25) 25 PHOENIX (12-25) Now that pressure’s off, may as well lose a lot and move up in lottery. (24) 26 CHICAGO (12-25) Make-or-break time for Curry, who’s now playing only 20 minutes a game. (26) 27 ATLANTA (10-28) GM Billy Knight says Hawks just aren’t consistent. Actually, they are. (29) 28 WASHINGTON (10-25) Trouble is when top scorers Arenas, Hughes are both shooting under 40%. (27) 29 ORLANDO (9-28) McGrady’s average, free throws off by 33%, showing how hard he’s trying. (28)

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When -- Friday. Time -- 7:30 p.m. TV -- Ch. 9, ESPN

Story line -- A trip to the home of the Lakers’ ancient foe may inspire them to give a better effort, assuming anything ever will again.


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