12 Phoenix (26-26)
Pace: 94.4 (10), Off: 102.5 (12), Def: 103.0 (20)
The Suns are hanging in there, just a game in the loss column out of eighth. And in the next 12 days, they'll play each of the four teams closest to them in the standings, so they can't be counted out at all. But the absence of Grant Hill, who had minor surgery on Friday, will really hurt them defensively.
13 Dallas (30-23)
Pace: 93.9 (16), Off: 100.2 (21), Def: 98.7 (7)
It's easy to doubt the Mavs, who have struggled offensively all season and regressed defensively since the break. But they've survived a pretty brutal post-break schedule. It started with nine games in 12 days, and now they're about to conclude a stretch of 10 straight games against teams with winning records.
14 New York (27-26)
Pace: 96.5 (3), Off: 99.9 (23), Def: 97.3 (4)
With Jeremy Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire out, Carmelo Anthony will be the focus of attention in New York. But this is Tyson Chandler's team as much as it is Anthony's. The Knicks are a top-five defense (believe it or not) because of Chandler, and will have to continue to win with defense.
15 Denver (29-24)
Pace: 96.9 (2), Off: 105.3 (4), Def: 103.6 (22)
A year ago, we pointed out how George Karl had his team playing the league's best post-break defense, after having the most efficient pre-break offense. Now, Karl deserves credit for keeping the Nuggets in playoff position despite a rash of injuries. Their most-used lineup has played in only 13 games together.
16 Philadelphia (29-23)
Pace: 91.9 (25), Off: 101.7 (17), Def: 94.9 (1)
The Sixers are just 9-14 since Feb. 15, but Friday's 21-point loss in Washington was really the first in that time that made you shake your head. Now, to avoid a first-round series with the Bulls or Heat, they have to find a way to win on the road. After Saturday, they're home for only two of their final 11 games.
17 Utah (27-26)
Pace: 94.1 (14), Off: 102.9 (9), Def: 103.7 (23)
The Jazz showed resolve in winning on the road a day after playing four overtimes, but circle Friday's home loss to the Kings as one to look back on if they miss the playoffs. Derrick Favors somehow shot 0-for-13 in that one, which was just their second home loss to a bad team this season.
18 Houston (28-25)
Pace: 94.2 (13), Off: 102.9 (8), Def: 101.6 (14)
The Rockets' two losses to the Mavs in the last 10 days had a bigger effect on the standings, but neither was as tough to swallow as Sunday's loss to the Pacers, in which they blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead. They still have a one-game lead for eighth, but begin a four-game trip in Chicago on Monday.
19 Milwaukee (24-28)
Pace: 95.8 (5), Off: 102.3 (14), Def: 102.7 (19)
The good news is that the Bucks' defense has improved, allowing less than a point per possession over the last eight games. The bad news is that they've laid a few eggs offensively in that stretch and need some help to catch the Knicks. After visiting Washington on Monday, they're home for five straight.
20 Portland (25-28)
Pace: 93.5 (18), Off: 102.9 (10), Def: 102.2 (15)
J.J. Hickson is averaging 16 points on 65 percent shooting in six games as a Blazer. And not surprisingly, Portland has been great offensively and terrible defensively when he's been on the floor. They almost knocked off the Clippers on Friday and have the ability to play spoiler over the last few weeks.
21 Minnesota (25-29)
Pace: 95.9 (4), Off: 102.2 (15), Def: 102.6 (18)
With weekend losses to the Celtics and Blazers, the Wolves have pretty much sealed their fate of missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season, and bought the Hornets an extra ticket to the lottery too. They're now 4-9 since losing Ricky Rubio for the season, with 10 of the 13 games on the road.
22 Detroit (19-33)
Pace: 91.3 (29), Off: 97.0 (29), Def: 104.4 (24)
Rodney Stuckey's game-winner in Washington was a highlight of what has been a strong, under-the-radar season. But that was the only full game he's played in the last seven. Tayshaun Prince stepped up in Stuckey's absence, totaling 53 points and 17 boards in wins over the Cavs and Bobcats last week.
23 Toronto (18-35)
Pace: 92.2 (23), Off: 98.9 (24), Def: 102.2 (16)
Only two teams have improved more offensively than the Raptors since the All-Star break. After Wednesday's win over the Nuggets, they have four post-break victories over playoff teams, with DeMar DeRozan averaging 22 points in those four games. He has shot 47 percent in wins and just 39 percent in losses.
24 New Jersey (19-35)
Pace: 92.3 (22), Off: 100.3 (20), Def: 107.0 (29)
Well, the Nets did it. Not only have they won three straight games for the first time this season, but after 80 days as the worst defensive team in the league, they've moved up to No. 29 in defensive efficiency. It was a good run at the bottom, but it had to come to an end with the addition of Gerald Wallace.
25 Golden State (20-31)
Pace: 94.5 (8), Off: 103.7 (7), Def: 105.1 (26)
The Warriors hung tough with the the Lakers twice last week. In between, they lost home games to the Hornets and Nets, blowing a 19-point lead to New Jersey on Friday. This shouldn't be any surprise with this team, but they were outrebounded by 56 boards in their four games last week.
26 Sacramento (18-34)
Pace: 97.3 (1), Off: 100.4 (18), Def: 106.3 (28)
The three-guard combination of Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans has been fun to watch, and pretty good offensively, scoring 107 points per 100 possessions in 488 minutes. But they're getting destroyed on the other end, allowing 110, with opponents shooting 50 percent in those minutes.
27 Cleveland (17-33)
Pace: 94.3 (x), Off: 98.3 (x), Def: 104.6 (x)
The Cavs have won just one of their last 11 games, quickly putting themselves in the middle of the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. Statistically, only the Blazers have regressed more than Cleveland since the All-Star break. Defense has been the biggest problem, which could be fixed if Anderson Varejao returns.
28 Washington (12-40)
Pace: 95.1 (7), Off: 97.2 (28), Def: 105.2 (27)
Things haven't been too pretty offensively, but until Sunday's stinker in Toronto, the Wizards had held six of their last seven opponents under a point per possession. And Friday's win over the Sixers was one of their best games of the season, up there with wins over the Thunder and Lakers. Baby steps.
29 New Orleans (13-40)
Pace: 90.7 (30), Off: 97.4 (27), Def: 102.6 (17)
The Hornets' ability to play good teams tough over the last month and a half has been pretty impressive. But on Sunday in Phoenix, we saw some signs of cracks, as Monty Williams appeared to call out Carl Landry for sitting out the loss. Landry has missed 25 games and is a free agent this summer.
30 Charlotte (7-43)
Pace: 93.9 (17), Off: 92.9 (30), Def: 107.1 (30)
At this time last year, Kemba Walker was leading UConn to its 11th straight win and a national championship. Now, he's playing for one of the worst teams in NBA history and has the worst plus-minus in the league. The Bobcats found a new way to lose on Saturday, blowing a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead.
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