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.
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.
Eastern Conference Standings
|Team||Record||Winning PCT||Games behind|
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