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The Times' Rankings

MARK HEISLER'S NBA RANKINGS, COMMENTS (last week's rank)

December 24, 2006

*--* WILD, WILD WEST 1. SAN ANTONIO (21-7) Sometimes they're so mellow they nod off: Rockets win by 19 in S.A. (2) 2. PHOENIX (18-7) At 35 minutes everyone will give up: Stoudemire averaging 18-8 in only 28. (1) 3. DALLAS (20-7) Lawler's Law -- first to 100 wins -- comes early: Mavs lead Clippers, 102-59. (5) 4. LAKERS (18-9) Bench spectacular, but key is Bynum's 15 rebounds, six blocks in 51 minutes. (3) 5. UTAH (20-8) 4-3 in midst of crunch that has Jazz on road for 15 of 22 until Jan. 20. (4) MILD, MILD EAST 6. DETROIT (17-8) High-jumping wide body Jason Maxiell gives Pistons some depth for a change. (6) 7. CHICAGO (16-11) Or maybe it can work: Wallace averages 11 rebounds as Bulls go 13-2. (8) 8. CLEVELAND (15-11) Just lost at home by 16 to Pistons with 10 of next 14 on road. (9) 9. ORLANDO (17-12) Trevor Ariza, or as they call him, "A-rise-uh," gets career-high 23. (7) STILL HAVE AN ISSUE OR TWO 10. WASHINGTON (14-12) Arenas, superstar, averages 42 as Wizards go 3-1 on West trip. (12) 11. DENVER (14-10) Now Camby's hurt. With Anthony, J.R. Smith out, starting to look like 76ers. (11) 12. HOUSTON (16-11) Just lost four or five with McGrady out when Yao got hurt vs. Clippers. (10) 13. INDIANA (15-14) Pacers have players and Carlisle can coach, but this isn't happening. (14) 14. GOLDEN STATE (14-15) Went 1-9 on road before Baron Davis got 31-38 in wins in Boston, Orlando. (15) 15. MILWAUKEE (13-14) Best point guard no one knows, Mo Williams averages 25 in 4-0 run. (23) 16. TORONTO (12-16) Meet new boss in Atlantic: Just went 4-1 with T.J. Ford averaging 19. (24) 17. PORTLAND (12-15) Just won six of nine and Roy, its second-best player, is back. (20) MORE ISSUES THAN THEY CAN COUNT 18. NEW ORLEANS (11-15) Best-case scenario has West back next month, Stojakovic in March. (16) 19. CLIPPERS (11-15) Good news: Only seven winning teams in West. Bad news: Everything else. (18) 20. MINNESOTA (12-13) Getting bombed by Laker subs in fourth quarter can't be a good sign. (13) 21. MIAMI (12-14) Riley says Heat "won't play defense." Proving it, Bucks get 121 on it. (19) 22. SACRAMENTO (11-14) Defensive emphasis forgotten as Kings give up 107 a game in 2-9 plummet. (17) 23. BOSTON (10-15) Everything just changed: Pierce has "stress reaction," out 2-3 weeks. (22) 24. NEW JERSEY (11-16) Bottom could fall out: 7-0 Krstic, No. 2 scorer, lost for season. (26) 25. NEW YORK (12-18) 3-1 post-fight: If Isiah Thomas knew that, he would have done it sooner. (27) 26. SEATTLE (11-17) Just went 0-5 with Allen out when SuperSonics lost Rashard Lewis too. (21) WHAT IF GREG ODEN DOESN'T COME OUT? 27. ATLANTA (9-17) Lost 16 of 21, just blew 21-point fourth-quarter lead over Utah. (25) 28. CHARLOTTE (7-19) MJ, who's at more of his kids' high school games, sees loss in N.Y. (28) 29. PHILADELPHIA (7-19) Can't lose 'em all apparently: Beat Celtics, Knicks to end 0-12 streak. (30) 30. MEMPHIS (6-22) Heisley calls off sale -- meaning West's hands tied rest of season too. (29)

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