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Mark Heisler's NBA rankings

A look at the contenders, pretenders and losers (including the Eastern Conference playoff race).

March 20, 2011

Rankings, Comments through Saturday

THEY'RE BACK?

1. LAKERS (49-20) So what if they didn't beat any top teams until March 6? (1)

2. CHICAGO (49-19) Bulls 18-2 when Bogans scores six. Unfortunately, he averages 4.1. (2)

3. MIAMI (48-22) Drying their tears, went 5-1, beating Lakers, walking on Spurs. (6)

4. SAN ANTONIO (56-13) Like Shaq in spring, Duncan awakens to get 22 in win at Dallas. (3)

5. BOSTON (49-19) Came from 14 down at New Orleans or they'd have lost five of seven. (5)

OTHERS INCLUDE . . .

6. OKLAHOMA CITY (45-23) Perkins undefeated in West, even if it's only been three games. (7)

7. DALLAS (48-21) So much for leading Lakers, closing out season series at home. (4)

8. ORLANDO (44-26) What two years away? Dwight Howard can extend in summer if he wants to. (10)

9. DENVER (41-29) Nuggets 9-4 since deal. Laughingstock front office up for execs of year. (8)

10. PORTLAND (40-29) Blazers 20-9 since Jan. 15 when they finally went over .500 for good. (12)

11. NEW ORLEANS (40-31) Reports of his death exaggerated: Paul goes for 33-27-26. (14)

12. MEMPHIS (38-32) Oops: Lost three of four with Gay's return now "indefinite." (13)

13. PHILADELPHIA (36-34) Breathing life into them is great, doing it with same guys amazing. (9)

14. ATLANTA (39-30) Smith, fantasy monster, real-world hard-head, at 41% this month. (11)

15. HOUSTON (36-34) Adelman's option picked up, for one year, on 10-3 run since break. (17)

16. PHOENIX (34-33) Twilight: Lost two without Nash, a third in his comeback try. (16)

17. NEW YORK (35-33) Hip Gotham fans sense issues with team 7-7 since popular trade. (15)

18. CLIPPERS (27-43) Winning 35 would be OK season but only six more games at home. (18)

19. GOLDEN STATE (30-39) San Francisco Chronicle's Ostler: Smart "dead coach coaching." (19)

20. UTAH (36-33) Ty Corbin has first winning streak, going 2-0 after 3-10 start. (20)

LOSERS/REST OF EAST PLAYOFF RACE

21. INDIANA (30-40) In first real starting shot, Hansbrough gets 20-29-30-10-29. (21)

22. CHARLOTTE (28-41) Jackson in vintage get-me-outta-here mode, shooting 32% in March. (23)

23. MILWAUKEE (27-41) Scary: Skiles' teams play hard. Imagine if this one didn't. (22)

24. DETROIT (25-44) Starting backcourt of 6-8 McGrady, 6-11 Daye beat Knicks. (30)

25. NEW JERSEY (22-45) Averaging 17, 5.9 rebounds, Lopez bumps it to 26-9 over five. (24)

26. MINNESOTA (17-53) Despite rumors, Rambis looks good there, for rest of season. (25)

27. TORONTO (19-49) At OKC, Denver, Phoenix, GS, Clippers: Over/under on wins is one. (27)

BLACK HOLE OF WHEREVER

28. SACRAMENTO (16-51) Let me get this straight: There are two cities that WANT them? (28)

29. CLEVELAND (13-55) Scott questions hearts. Arms, legs, lungs, etc., not much either. (29)

30. WASHINGTON (16-51) McGee gets T for rim-hanging after triple-double in 20-point loss. (26)

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