NBA standings 2014: Rockets keep rolling, Indiana can feel the Heat

Scott Halleran

Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets are laughing their way up the Western Conference standings, the the Miami Heat are chasing the Indiana Pacers at the top of the East.

The Indiana Pacers are still hanging on in that No. 1 spot they value so highly, but the Miami Heat aren't far behind them. For just the second time this season, Indiana is on a two-game losing streak, falling by two points at home against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and then suffering an embarrassing 22-point loss on Wednesday in Charlotte. If Miami hadn't dropped its game in Houston on Wednesday, only one game would separate the two top teams in the East. The Heat have won 12 of their last 14.

The Brooklyn Nets have won four straight and are above .500 for the first time this season. Brooklyn and Miami are the only teams to have beaten the Chicago Bulls in the last four weeks.

Near the bottom of the playoff picture, the Atlanta Hawks are doing all they can to drop out of it entirely. They've lost 12 of their last 13 games, but are still hanging on at No. 8 because the teams beneath them are so bad. Paul Millsap has missed Atlanta's last five games with a knee contusion, and the team lost by 24 points on Wednesday in Portland. The Hawks have a hard time scoring without Millsap, and, sadly, Kyle Korver's three-point streak ended against the Blazers.

Both the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers stated their intentions to make the playoffs before the season began, and suddenly they're both in striking distance.

The Philadelphia 76ers haven't won since January, yet the Milwaukee Bucks are still worse than them.

Eastern Conference Standings

Team Record Winning PCT Games behind
Indiana 46-13 0.754 0
Miami 43-15 0.741 1.5
Toronto 33-26 0.559 12
Chicago 34-27 0.557 12
Washington 31-28 0.525 14
Brooklyn 30-29 0.508 15
Charlotte 28-33 0.459 18
Atlanta 26-33 0.441 19
Detroit 24-37 0.393 22
Cleveland 24-38 0.387 22.5
New York 22-40 0.355 24.5
Boston 20-41 0.328 26
Orlando 19-44 0.302 28
Philadelphia 15-46 0.246 31
Milwaukee 12-48 0.200 33.5

The biggest movers in the Western Conference standings are the Houston Rockets, who have been the league's best team in the calendar year. Houston's offense is clicking, and the Rockets have won 20 of their last 25 games. The way in which they beat Miami on Tuesday showed that they think of themselves as title contenders. If the San Antonio Spurs ever slow down, perhaps Houston could even challenge for the No. 2 spot.

As it stands, it looks like the Rockets will be jumbled up with the Blazers and the Clippers for the rest of the year, flip-flopping in the third, fourth and fifth spots. The Clips have won five in a row, and will likely extend that streak against the Lakers and Hawks this week.

Aside from disappointing losses to the Bulls and the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors have been on a bit of a roll. They've won seven of their last nine games, but in the Western Conference that's not enough to create real separation. The Suns and Mavericks have slipped a little bit lately, and the Grizzlies are just a game behind them.

You have to feel for Kevin Love, who is having an MVP-caliber season and will assuredly miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The Minnesota Timberwolves had won six of eight before giving up 118 points to the Knicks on Wednesday, a bad home loss.

The New Orleans Pelicans had been making a strong tanking push until they ran into the unstoppable tanking juggernaut in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Pelicans won in a ridiculous 132-125 affair, snapping an eight-game losing streak.

Western Conference Standings

Western Record PCT Games behind
Oklahoma City 46-15 0.754 0
San Antonio 44-16 0.733 1.5
Houston 41-18 0.689 4
L.A. Clippers 42-20 0.677 4.5
Portland 42-19 0.689 4
Golden State 38-24 0.613 8.5
Phoenix 35-25 0.583 10.5
Dallas 36-26 0.581 10.5
Memphis 34-26 0.567 11.5
Minnesota 30-30 0.500 15.5
Denver 26-34 0.433 19.5
New Orleans 24-37 0.393 22
Sacramento 22-39 0.361 24
Utah 21-40 0.344 25
L.A. Lakers  21-40 0.344 25

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