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2012 NBA standings: Knicks well ahead in Atlantic, opening up Eastern Conference lead

Leading the division wasn't enough for the New York Knicks. With a four game lead on the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics already, they're now trying to see how big a lead they can get over the Miami Heat in the standings.

Al Bello

The New York Knicks aren't just in first place in the Eastern Conference, they're beginning to open up a little bit of a lead.

After Tuesday night's win over the Brooklyn Nets, New York extended its lead in the Atlantic Division to 4.5 games, the biggest of any division lead at this point in the year besides the Oklahoma City Thunder. They dropped half a game Wednesday night with Brooklyn beating the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics winning in double overtime over the Dallas Mavericks, but still own a sizeable lead on that front. They were tied with Brooklyn a little bit over two weeks ago, but the Nets stumbled without Brook Lopez, losing five straight, and allowing New York to surge in the standings.

Now Knicks fans wonder how long they can hold on to the top spot in the East. Miami, the defending NBA champions, had jumped out to the early lead, but now have lost three of five: one to the lowly Washington Wizards, one Wednesday night to the Golden State Warriors on a Draymond Green jumper, and a blowout loss against the Knicks themselves, their second defeat at the hands of New York on the young season. That leaves New York 1.5 up on Miami with the season just about a quarter over.

Here's a look at the full conference standings after Wednesday night's action:

Eastern Standings

New York Knicks 21 16-5 .762
Miami Heat 20 14-6 .700
Atlanta Hawks 19 13-6 .684
Chicago Bulls 21 12-9 .571
Brooklyn Nets 21 12-9 .571
Boston Celtics 21 12-9 .571
Milwaukee Bucks 20 11-9 .550
Philadelphia 76ers 22 12-10 .545
Indiana Pacers 22 11-11 .500
Orlando Magic 21 8-13 .381
Charlotte Bobcats 21 7-14 .333
Detroit Pistons 24 7-17 .292
Cleveland Cavaliers 23 5-18 .217
Toronto Raptors 23 4-19 .174
Washington Wizards 19 3-16 .158