NBA's Western Conference is top-heavy

Other than the Miami Heat, most of the league's top teams reside out West.
By John Rohde Published: January 5, 2013
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photo - Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, right, puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, of Spain, defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)  ORG XMIT: LAS109
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, right, puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, of Spain, defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: LAS109

3. Los Angeles Clippers: The streaky Clippers have looked scintillating at times and vulnerable at others. Does league's deepest roster have all the answers?

4. Miami Heat: Defending champs are getting everyone's best shot and also appear to be a bit bored. Has only a 7-6 road record, but clearly is best in the East.

5. Golden State Warriors: The run-and-gun Warriors used to simply try to outscore everybody, but guess who ranks second in field-goal percentage defense?

6. Memphis Grizzlies: After a 14-3 start, the Grizzlies have cooled considerably and gone 6-7 since. Despite offensive weaponry, Memphis is just 23rd in scoring.

7. New York Knicks: Not convinced the Knicks belong this high, but must give props for what they've achieved so far riding Carmelo Anthony's shoulders.

8. Denver Nuggets: Having to endure 22 of their first 32 games on the road, the Nuggets get to play 15 of their next 18 in the rarefied air of the Pepsi Center.

9. Houston Rockets: James Harden's shoulders might be even broader that Carmelo's. Former Thunder sixth man has become an All-Star leading the Rockets.

10. Los Angeles Lakers: Still wallowing around .500 mark, even with the returns of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Where would they be without Kobe Bryant?

11. Chicago Bulls: Fresh off an impressive victory at Miami on Friday, the Bulls somehow manage to keep plugging along without MVP Derrick Rose.

12. Atlanta Hawks: Their ability to win tough games on the road (at OKC, Portland, Memphis) makes the Hawks dangerous, but no warm fuzzies in the ATL.

13. Portland Trail Blazers: Led by scintillating rookie point guard Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers just posted a big win at Memphis, but have little depth.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves: After opening a M*A*S*H unit earlier this season, Timberwolves slowly are getting healthy and will end their playoff drought.

15. Brooklyn Nets: Pretty quick trigger firing Avery Johnson. Nets could still be the second-best team in the East. Perhaps it will click under coach P.J. Carlesimo.

16. Indiana Pacers: Have warmed up lately thanks to a friendly schedule and protecting home court, but this is a much better team when it has Danny Granger.


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