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The Times' Rankings

March 30, 2003|MARK HEISLER

NBA RANKINGS AND COMMENT

*--* Rnk Team (rec.) Comment (last week's position) 1 SACRAMENTO (52-21) Just what Lakers need, first-round, seven- game, knockdown, drag-out with Kings. (2) 2 SAN ANTONIO (52-20) Amid farewell ceremonies, ailing Admiral has played 249 minutes since break. (1) 3 LAKERS (42-30) Two words for their attitude to their new place in pecking order: in denial. (3) 4 DALLAS (54-18) Our favorite peacenik: Fans boo Van Exel for war protest, cheer for 35 vs. Spurs. (4) 5 MINNESOTA (46-28) League's most disrespected team heads for third 50-victory season in last four. (5) 6 PORTLAND (45-27) 4-6 with Pippen out in bid to hold off Timberwolves for home court in first round. (6) 7 DETROIT (45-26) Still awaiting cycle: Little Conference starts weekend 60 games under .500. (7) 8 UTAH (43-30) Stockton, 41, leads point guards in shooting and everyone in assists per minute. (9) 9 PHILADELPHIA (43-29) Scribes check hearing as Iverson says Brown wants him to go to hoop -- and he's right. (8) 10 NEW JERSEY (45-28) Mutombo due back so Nets won't be so short any more. How good is the question. (11) 11 INDIANA (42-30) Not that Pacers are worried about Tinsley, but they just signed ... Tim Hardaway? (10) 12 NEW ORLEANS (41-32) Silas, who must have another job offer, says the owners are crazy. (12) 13 PHOENIX (38-34) Here's a team no one would mind meeting in first round: Suns 9-13 since break. (14) 14 HOUSTON (38-35) Yao Ming hits rookie wall. In his case, its name is Shaquille O'Neal. (13) 15 GOLDEN STATE (36-38) Probably eighth best in West now, but 9-18 start too much to overcome. (18) 16 ORLANDO (39-34) May think he's the next Kobe: Since All-Star break, McGrady averaging 36. (16) 17 BOSTON (40-34) Rick's launch-three scheme hasn't worked in while: 'Ville out, they're next. (15) 18 WASHINGTON (34-38) Stayin' alive: Trip began 0-2, but win at Denver would send them home 3-3. (21) 19 MILWAUKEE (34-39) Lost eight of 10, but schedule gets easy and Bucks won season series with Wizards. (17) 20 SEATTLE (34-37) This isn't Starbucks, it's Mr. Softee: Rashard's 6.6 rebounds leads team. (20) 21 NEW YORK (32-41) Gee, look who's in No-Man's Land between playoffs and top lottery picks again. (19) 22 MEMPHIS (26-46) Williams chills, at career highs in assists, shooting and three-point shooting. (22) 23 CHICAGO (26-48) Good coach could do something with Bulls, but Krause wants one he controls. (23) 24 ATLANTA (29-45) Hot time in the cold town: Rare sellout chants "MVP" for Kobe in Laker romp. (24) 25 MIAMI (23-50) Mourning says he'll come back. Of course, he's a free agent so question is: Where? (26) 26 TORONTO (22-49) Owners extend GM Grunwald, meaning he gets to stay and Wilkens has to go. (25) 27 CLIPPERS (22-50) May be pattern: three playoff trips, all first-round exits, in Sterling's 22 years. (27) 28 DENVER (16-57) Now they wake up? After 7-41 run that dates to November, Nuggets go 4-6. (28) 29 CLEVELAND (14-59) One nice surprise, anyway: Boozer, taken at No. 35, averaging 13-9 in March. (29)

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