Midseason Highs and Lows
The question of which team is No. 2 in the league is more compelling than asking who's No. 1, considering that the Bulls, who were 42-9 at week's end, rendered the point moot early in the season. Herewith, SI's midseason rankings, which are not merely a look at the standings but a projection of who will be in what place when the season ends.
1. Bulls—Chicago will not eclipse the alltime best season record of 69-13 (set by the 1971-72 Lakers), but the Bulls will lose only about 15 games.
2. Trail Blazers—With a talent-laden roster, Portland is clearly the league's second-best team, but it just isn't as mentally tough as Chicago, and at this point the Trail Blazers would fare about as well in a championship series against the Bulls as the Lakers did in losing in five games last year.
3. Spurs—Any team with David Robinson can realistically think about getting to the Finals, but it cannot hold realistic thoughts about winning them without a proven outside shooter.
4. Suns—Except for a bad first month of the season, Phoenix quarterback Kevin Johnson could have joined teammates Jeff Hornacek and Dan Majerle at the All-Star Game in Orlando. The Suns could move up if any of the top three teams loses a key player to injury.
5. Jazz—A familiar refrain: Utah just doesn't have enough depth to win it all.
6. Knicks—True, Pat Riley-has New York's players believing in themselves. But the Knicks' 106-85 home loss to the Bulls last week shows they're not title contenders.
7. Warriors—Rockin'-and-rollin', center-less Golden State will keep everyone interested right through its elimination in the second round of the playoffs.
8. Cavaliers—Yes, Cleveland is rejuvenated now that it's healthy. But shouldn't the Cavs be putting a little more pressure on the Bulls, whom they trailed by 8� games at week's end?