NBA rankings

1. Spurs: Leading Miami by 24 at the end of one and beating them by 30 is a statement.

2. Mavericks: Their defense has slipped a little in recent weeks, but they keep winning.

3. Celtics: Eastern leaders enjoying the versatility newly acquired players have brought them.

4. Lakers: Champs will be tested by Spurs, Hawks, Heat and Mavericks this week.

5. Bulls: Impressively rebounded from bad loss to Hawks with quality win over Magic.

6. Magic: Still struggling with consistency; beat the Heat with big comeback and lost to Bulls.

7. Nuggets: Looking like geniuses in Carmelo Anthony trade, winning five of six since the deal.

8. Heat: League's most unpopular team in a funk, losing three straight and four of five.

9. Thunder: Rebounded from three-game losing streak with wins over Pacers, Hawks.

10. Trail Blazers: Got over a troubling two-game skid by beating the Kings on Wednesday.

Game of the week

The Jazz will face former teammates Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer for the second time this season in Chicago on Saturday night. Utah won't be quite as recognizable to the Bulls in the rematch with both Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams gone from the team.

24 second clock

PERKINS' CUDDLY SIDE: The 6-foot-10, 280-pound Kendrick Perkins is trying to show his new Thunder teammates that looks sometimes can be deceiving.

"I'm showing them that I'm not this mean guy that everybody thinks I am," he said. "But I wouldn't call myself a soft teddy bear because it might mess up my image."

Said Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks, "He's not going to take anything from players on the court."

AN EYE ON MOSES: Minnesota's Kevin Love continues to close in on Moses Malone's streak of 51 straight games in which he recorded a double-double, the league record since the NBA

ABA merger. But Wilt Chamberlain holds the all-time record of 247 consecutive double-double games. Love has recorded at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in four games this season, and the Lakers' Pau Gasol is the only other player to have done that this season.

YOU BE THE JUDGE: The Clippers' Blake Griffin was chosen to play in the All-Star Game and Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge was not. But who is the better player? Let's ask Houston's Chuck Hayes, who went up against the two on consecutive nights. Hayes said that Aldridge was better at getting the shots he wants.

"Blake will get that in time," said Hayes. "If he keeps progressing and working in the summers and the seasons at reading the defense, he'll get it. This is his first 82-game season. With Aldridge, I have to guard him for multiple dribbles. With Blake, I just have to guard his first dribble. His first step and first dribble gets him by a lot of people. If I make him go to a counter-move, an off-balance counter-move, I think I have the advantage."

ENCORE PERFORMANCE: When the Nets journeyed overseas to play the Raptors in London, they were trying to avoid being the first team, including the preseason, to ever lose on three continents in the same season. New Jersey lost in China during the preseason and has lost frequently during the regular season in North America. Not a single one of New Jersey's beat writers joined the team on the trip, probably because 12th place in the East was on the line.

FAST BREAKS: A poll conducted by the Oklahoman newspaper indicated that 82.3 percent of respondents thought the Thunder was a better team after acquiring Perkins. ... Cleveland coach Byron Scott on the Spurs: "That team is just way too good. They do not make a lot of mistakes and that's why they've won championships." ... Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy has won 72 percent of his career games after the all-star break compared with 68 percent before the break.


Dallas Mavericks: They continue to be the league's hottest team, winning eight straight games and 18 of their last 19. They scored 68 points in the first half against the Pacers on Friday.

Los Angeles Lakers: They've won six straight games, and even got past nemesis Charlotte on Friday night.

Gilbert Arenas, Magic: Well, he was hot for one game. He came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers in Orlando's magical 24-point comeback victory over Miami on Thursday.


Washington Wizards: Their schedule has been brutal since the All-Star break, but they haven't responded. They had lost seven straight games prior to Saturday's, um, showdown against the Timberwolves.

New York Knicks: They've lost 11 straight games against the Cavaliers. That streak was understandable when LeBron James played in Cleveland. Not so much this season. They've lost to the Cavaliers all three times they've played this season, giving up an average of 117 points in the last two losses.?


1. Derrick Rose, Bulls: In February, Rose averaged 26.4 points and 8.2 assists per game. No other player in the league has averaged as many points and assists in the same month this season.

2. Dwight Howard, Magic: Superman continues to put up super numbers. He had 30 points and 16 rebounds against the Knicks, and 14 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocked shots against the Heat.

3. LeBron James, Heat: Can he still make an outside shot? He had chances to win games last week and didn't.


24 — Miami blew a 24-point lead in a 99-96 loss to Orlando on Thursday. It was the second time this season the Heat have given up a lead of more than 20 points in a loss. The first was when Paul Millsap scored 46 points in Utah's 116-114 victory back in November.

47 — Deron Williams had 47 assists in his first 3 games with the Nets, setting a record for most assists by a player in his first 3 games with a team.

30/20 — Minnesota's Kevin Love had 37 points and 23 rebounds against the Warriors, recording his fourth 30/20 game of the season.