Early Season NBA Standings

Having begun both the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons 17-3, the Lakers became pretty used to looking exclusively into their rear view mirror as the respective campaigns wore on.

But after last week’s four-game losing streak in which L.A. looked more than eager to have injured big men Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff back in the mix, the Lakers actually have a few teams to chase after 20 games in 2010-11:

Western Conference Standings
1) San Antonio Spurs (17-3)
2) Dallas Mavericks (16-4)
3) Utah Jazz (15-6)
4) L.A. Lakers (14-6)
5) Denver Nuggets (13-6)
6) Oklahoma City Thunder (14-7)
7) New Orleans Hornets (13-7)
8) Phoenix Suns (11-9)

Of those three teams, L.A. has seen only the Jazz, dropping a post-Thanksgiving game 102-96 despite leading by three with 1:16 to play in the fourth quarter. The Lakers don’t play the Spurs until Dec. 28 (at San Antonio), nor the Mavericks until Jan. 19 (at Dallas), while their chance for Jazz revenge comes on Jan. 25 at STAPLES Center.

Over in the Eastern Conference, two teams have managed a better start than the Lakers thus far, with three others not too far behind:

Eastern Conference Standings
1) Boston Celtics (16-4)
2) Orlando Magic (15-5)
3) Miami Heat (13-8)
4) Chicago Bulls (10-8)
5) Atlanta Hawks (13-8)
6) New York Knicks (12-9)
7) Indiana Pacers (9-9)
8) Toronto Raptors (8-12)