If you had the New York Knicks atop the Eastern Conference this late into December, you must be a psychic or crazy.
Yet here they are, holding the conference's best record at 19-6 and a game-and-a-half ahead of Miami. With an 8-2 record in their last 10 games, the Knicks are the hottest team out east. And though New York hit a bump in the road with a 109-96 loss to Houston on Monday—its first home loss of the season—the team rebounded nicely with a 100-86 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. The Knicks are now 2-1 against the Nets this season.
As for the Nets, a hot pick to contend in the conference, things haven't gone well. Brooklyn is 2-8 in its last 10 games and a full six games back of the Knicks in the Atlantic Division. Currently on a three-game losing streak, the Nets blew a big lead to Utah on Tuesday and lost, 92-90, then fell to New York at Madison Square Garden.
Also in the east, the Orlando Magic are winners of four straight. They beat Minnesota, 102-93, on Monday, then took out the hapless Wizards, 90-83, on Wednesday. But a lot of teams in the east are sinking. Philadelphia and Cleveland have lost five straight, Detroit has dropped six in a row, and the Wizards haven't won in a week. But nothing compares to Charlotte, which has lost 13 straight games. This week, the Bobcats narrowly lost to the Lakers, 101-100, on Tuesday, then fell to Phoenix, 121-104, Wednesday.
In the Western Conference, no one is beating the Clippers or the Thunder. Los Angeles has won 10 straight and earlier this week, they beat bottom-feeders Detroit and New Orleans. Oklahoma City is even hotter, with 13 straight wins, and victories this week over San Antonio and Atlanta.