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The Second Half

January 13, 2008|Mark Heisler

QUOTAGE

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GOOD ADVICE

Kobe Bryant, above, to the Philadelphia Daily News on advising his friend Andre Iguodala, who turned down the 76ers' $11.4 million-a-year extension offer:

"It's a business and like any other business, you can believe that your value can be greater. . . . But you can't take it as something personal or let it distract you from working hard every single day. You have to come out and perform."

GOOD ADVICE II

Milwaukee assistant coach Brian James, on Bryant's impact on Michael Redd on the U.S. team:

"He came back working harder, more aggressive and confident. He's talked about going against Kobe every day and Kobe is telling him he'd better bring it or he'd be in for a long day."

BEFORE

Detroit Coach Flip Saunders, asked to compare Utah's Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams to Karl Malone and John Stockton before a game in Auburn Hills:

"I had that, my second year in the league in Minnesota with Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury. They were saying they were going to be like Stockton and Malone. You never know what's going to happen."

AFTER

Saunders, after Boozer and Williams combined for 57 points as the Jazz won by 10 points:

"Go ahead, put those guys in the Hall of Fame."

AFTER II

Miami Coach Pat Riley, calling this the toughest season of his career:

"I mean, I've been through years when I knew we were going to lose, but this was a year I thought we could win."

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LOOKING AHEAD

The Phoenix Suns, who play the Clippers here Tuesday and the Lakers here Thursday, are in disarray with management split, dissension among the players and no one having any fun.

They also started the weekend tied for No. 1 in the West.

It looks like their usual gripes, aggravated by a slow start under a new management team with San Antonio-trained, defense-oriented Steve Kerr taking over as general manager from Coach Mike D'Antoni, who did both jobs last season.

Steve Nash's observation on TNT that they aren't "having as much fun as last year" is thought to be code for: Amare Stoudemire still wants to be No. 1 (his uniform number), and Shawn Marion still feels disrespected.

Or maybe they're just burned out after amassing win totals of 62-54-61 the last three seasons with nothing to show for it. In any case, 20 teams would die for their problems.

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THE TIMES' RANKINGS

RANKINGS, COMMENTS (WITH LAST WEEK'S RANK)

SUNRISE IN EAST

1. BOSTON (30-5)

Easing off a tad too much as they lose to Wizards and . . . Bobcats? (1)

2. DETROIT (28-9)

Celtics defense dominated showdown but deeper Pistons have won 13 of 15. (2)

BEST OF WEST GETS UNEXPECTED ENTRY

3. PHOENIX (26-11)

Hill had appendectomy, Nash had flu, everyone else just had the blues. (3)

4. SAN ANTONIO (24-11)

About Feb. 1 Popovich will call down thunder. For now, still chilling. (5)

5. DALLAS (26-11)

Just went 7-0 but four were at home, road wins at Clippers, Minnesota, Seattle. (6)

6. LAKERS (24-11)

Bynum really into salary drive Phil says he's on, at 19 and 13 this month. (7)

NICE YOUNG TEAMS BUT GET SERIOUS

7. PORTLAND (22-13)

Let's see what the kids have: 10 of 16 on road from now to All-Star break. (9)

8. NEW ORLEANS (24-12)

Most amazing thing Hornets have done: Keep still about being pawns in a game. (4)

9. ORLANDO (23-16)

Jump Shooter Blues: Those who start 16-4 can turn around and go 7-12. (10)

10. DENVER (22-13)

Nuggets need a point guard fast: Atkins lost for season, leaving just Anthony Carter. (8)

11. GOLDEN STATE (21-16)

May not be able to go higher but still everyone's matchup nightmare. (11)

12. UTAH (21-17)

Just won four five in row at home. Now to knock someone out of a playoff slot. (12)

13. HOUSTON (20-17)

Happily for them Rockets, they can play without Tracy McGrady: Just went 6-2. (18)

14. WASHINGTON (19-16)

Not the same have-to-outscore-you Wizards, 16-11 since Arenas left. (17)

15. CLEVELAND (19-18)

Landing Bibby, whom Cavaliers are still pursuing, would definitely help. (13)

16. TORONTO (19-17)

Needs Elvis: Bosh makes music video to get All-Star votes vs. KG Garnett, Howard. (16)

17. NEW JERSEY (18-18)

Hardly low maintenance but still Jason Kidd, averages 12-10-11 this month. (14)

18. ATLANTA (15-17)

Hawks' 14-12 was Hawks' best start was their best in eight years but they're 1-5 since. (15)

MEDIOCRE AT BEST

19. INDIANA (17-21)

Oops: Ike Diogu, key to Golden State deal, lost in spread-the-floor system. (19)

20. CHICAGO (14-20)

Official disaster area: Blew late 13-point lead, fell to Knicks. (20)

21. PHILADELPHIA (14-23)

Oops: On 8-3 run when new GM Stefanski gave Korver away; 1-7 since. (21)

22. SACRAMENTO (14-21)

GM Petrie key to several teams' hopes with Bibby, Artest available. (22)

23. MILWAUKEE (15-22)

Doug Collins, who turned down GM-coach job, rumored to be up for GM again. (23)

HELLO DARKNESS THEIR OLD FRIEND

24. CHARLOTTE (13-23)

Felton, drafted No. 5 after Paul and Williams, moved to shooting guard. (24)

25. CLIPPERS (10-23)

Dear Donald: You don't have enough fans left to start kicking them out. (25)

26. MEMPHIS (10-26)

No. 4 pick Conley gets crash course as starter after playing 102 minutes. (26)

27. SEATTLE (9-27)

Some point guard(s) on way out: Watson, Ridnour and/or West. (27)

FOULED UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION

28. NEW YORK (9-26)

Agony continues with eight of next 12 on road.(28)

29. MIAMI (8-28)

Agony continues with Shaq out, Wade playing hurt. (29)

30. MINNESOTA (5-31)

Agony continues on 11-win pace. Record is 76ers' 9-73. (30)

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