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Inside the NBA

The Times' Rankings

November 17, 2002

MARK HEISLER'S NBA COMMENTS AND RANKINGS:

GAME OF THE WEEK

LAKERS AT SAN ANTONIO

*--* Team (W-L) Comment (last week's position) 1 DALLAS (10-0) Could be schedule or top teams futzing around. Or Mavericks could be a lot better. (4) 2 SACRAMENTO (6-4) No one has a backup like Bobby Jackson, averaging 17.6 while Bibby is out. (2) 3 NEW JERSEY (7-3) Huh? East was 54 games under .500 last season, started the weekend 10 over. (5) 4 DETROIT (8-2) Little early to anoint Carlisle as some guys are, but this is still impressive. (8) 5 INDIANA (8-1) So far, so good for embattled Isiah and his not- previously-ready-for-prime-time kids. (9) 6 SAN ANTONIO (6-4) Ginobili back on bench. Until or unless he pans out, Spurs still lack firepower. (1) 7 NEW ORLEANS (7-3) Baron, misplaced strong safety, in top 10 in assists, minutes, three-pointers, steals. (7) 8 SEATTLE (7-2) No. 1 in three-point shooting (45%). Only Celtics, Mavericks and Bucks make more. (14) 9 BOSTON (6-4) Celtics were rolling along nicely until crashing into Mavericks and Bucks. (11) 10 PHILADELPHIA (6-3) Lot better than last year when 76ers began 0-5 and Larry Brown told pals he was gone. (10) 11 ORLANDO (6-4) No one can cover spread-court offense, but there's that 101-a-game defense. (6) 12 MINNESOTA (5-6) It would be sad if Timberwolves had their golden age and no one noticed. (12) 13 PHOENIX (5-3) Took two seasons to get to it, but Suns are 4-1 with Penny, Marbury sharing point. (15) 14 WASHINGTON (6-4) Jordan's turning up minutes as he finds this season his knees can take it. (20) 15 HOUSTON (4-3) With headaches gone, Stevie Franchise is up from 22 a game and 42%, to 28-49%. (16) 16 PORTLAND (4-6) Rasheed perked up for Cheeks last season, now averaging 7.0 rebounds. (19) 17 MILWAUKEE (5-4) Small dog: Thomas averaging 11 points, or one for every $1 million of salary. (21) 18 TORONTO (4-4) Just like last spring, except now Raptors are hanging in without Vince and Antonio. (22) 19 ATLANTA (5-4) Ratliff picks it up with 20 points, 20 rebounds, eight blocks in two games. (17) 20 CLIPPERS (3-6) As the family patriarch in "Moonstruck" says, "Quick, someone tell a joke." (18) 21 LAKERS (3-6) Goodbye fairy-tale scenario: Big Toe all better, they live happily ever after. (3) 22 UTAH (3-7) If Jazz thinks this is bad, wait until what comes after Karl and John. (13) 23 CHICAGO (4-6) Why mollify never-happened Jamal Crawford by taking minutes from Jay Williams? (23) 24 CLEVELAND (2-8) Tyrone Hill and Ricky Davis must have missed part about getting into the LeBron Derby. (24) 25 NEW YORK (1-8) So much for Spree riding over hill to save the day: He returns, Knicks lose. (25) 26 MIAMI (1-7) Riley: "I'm humbled. Take my name off the marquee." Hey, Pat, it might get worse. (26) 27 GOLDEN STATE (3-8) Arenas making rare switch from off guard to point, averaging big-time 16-7-7. (27) 28 DENVER (2-7) Where have you gone, Paul Westhead? Nuggets score 53 against Pistons. (28) 29 MEMPHIS (0-10) Kids get taste of way we were, as Hubie starts with three days of two-a-days. (29)

*--*

When -- Wednesday. Time -- 5:30 PST. TV -- Channel 9.

Story line -- Because the Spurs won the first meeting, they're in position to go up 2-0 in the season series before seeing Shaquille O'Neal in uniform. The Lakers won once here without Shaq and another one without Kobe Bryant in the last two seasons, so anything is technically possible.

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