No change at the top this week, but the Dallas Mavericks finally looked somewhat vulnerable in a 22-point blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
With two victories over Dallas in the last few weeks, the Suns have to feel better about their chances if a playoff showdown with the Mavericks occurs. But Phoenix is much more concerned with what's going on below it, where the Spurs are making a late push to overcome the Suns for the West's No. 2 seed.
If all holds true in the coming weeks, the two teams are looking at a second-round clash in the postseason. The only question – other than whether or not each team advances past the first round – is which club will have home-court advantage if they meet each other.
Dallas, meanwhile, will take great joy knowing the Spurs and Suns are on a collision course in the playoffs. That means the Mavs will only have to play one of them on their projected road to the NBA finals.
Here's a look at the latest rankings (records and statistics are through April 1):
4. Utah Jazz (48-25, Last ranking: 6) – Huge win for the Jazz over the Rockets, giving them the inside track for the No. 4 seed in the West.
8. Chicago Bulls (44-31, Last ranking: 8) – With Andres Nocioni still out, Tyrus Thomas has gotten his chance and he's made some huge plays for the Bulls. Thomas is raw, but he is starting to come along.
10. Los Angeles Lakers (39-34, Last ranking: 11) – Kobe Bryant decided it wasn't necessary for him to score big anymore for his team to win: He dished out 13 assists (and scored only 19 points) in the Lakers' 23-point rout of Sacramento.
14. Denver Nuggets (36-36, Last ranking: 10) – The schedule seems to get tougher and tougher for the Nuggets, who are trying to hang on to a playoff spot in the West. They've got the Lakers, Kings, Mavericks and Clippers this week.
15. Golden State Warriors (35-39, Last ranking: 15) – Jason Richardson is doing his best to make up for a poor season. He scored 36 and 26 in consecutive wins for the Warriors last week. Golden State is not dead yet.
16. Orlando Magic (34-40, Last ranking: 17) – Trevor Ariza is proving to be a steal for the Magic as part of last year's Steve Francis trade. Ariza is proving he can defend three or four different positions on the floor, and his offensive game is developing.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (31-42, Last ranking: 22) – The Wolves won a thriller in Orlando on Sunday, but they're still headed for their third straight season without a playoff appearance.
21. New York Knicks (31-42, Last ranking: 19) – Isiah Thomas signed a long-term contract extension with the Knicks after the team showed pretty solid improvement from last year. Of course, the bar was set awfully low.
24. Sacramento Kings (30-42, Last ranking: 21) – The Kings are in for some changes this summer. They're headed for their worst record since 1998 when they finished 27-55.
25. Charlotte Bobcats (28-46, Last ranking: 26) – Argentinean star Walter Hermann is finally getting a chance to play for the Bobcats and he's making the most of it: 17 points per game on almost 60-percent shooting in his last nine games. Plus he has great hair.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (29-44, Last ranking: 24) – The Blazers' four-game losing streak figures to get much worse. Their next five games are against Utah, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston again.
27. Atlanta Hawks (27-47, Last ranking: 27) – The only interesting issue left for the Hawks this season is to see where they end up in the draft. If they have a top-three pick, they keep it. If not, it goes to Phoenix as part of the Joe Johnson trade.
28. Milwaukee Bucks (25-47, Last ranking: 25) – Tough season for the Bucks, but with a probable top-five pick coming in the June draft and a talented roster returning for new coach Larry Krystkowiak, this could be a sleeper team next season.
29. Boston Celtics (23-50, Last ranking: 29) – Al Jefferson has helped the Celtics play some good basketball late in the season. He's averaged 18.6 points and 9.6 rebounds in Boston's last five games, which included three victories.