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NBA standings 2012: Denver at .500 but far back in Northwest Division

The Nuggets are 12-12 on the season, but have a lot of ground to make up if they want a shot at first place in their division.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets are far closer to last place in their division then they are to first. Of course, that has a lot to do with the team sitting on top of the Northwest.

At 19-4, the Oklahoma City Thunder own the best record in the NBA and an impressive 6.5-game lead over second-place Minnesota in the division. But the remaning teams there - the Timberwolves, Jazz, Nuggets and Trail Blazers - are all within two games of each other and jockeying for position in the lower half of the playoff standings.

Denver, which is 12-12, is currently tied with the Houston Rockets for eighth in the conference, half-a-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks. Minnesota and Utah are sixth and seventh, respectively. The Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Warriors take the first five spots.

The Nuggets have alternated wins and losses in the month of December, keeping them from gaining ground on their Northwest foes. Oklahoma City has used a 10-game winning streak to vault far ahead of its competition, while Minnesota's more modest three-game winning streak has put the Wolves in second place in the division at 11-9. Utah is one game ahead of Denver at 13-11, and Portland is one game back at 10-12.