NBA power rankings: Thunder, Spurs at top; Knicks, Nets in top 10
Records through Jan. 28:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-11, previous No. 1) – The Thunder have lost three of their last five games, allowing 100-plus points in each of them. They can afford to give up more points because of their offense, but it’s not a good habit to get into.
2. San Antonio Spurs (36-11, previous No. 3) – Winners of eight in a row and should cruise through the next four games too. Haven’t exactly played tough competition lately, but they’re knocking on Thunder’s doorstep.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (33-13, previous No. 2) – The Clippers just snapped a four-game losing streak, and get this: it’s their fourth losing streak this year. Only once have they followed up their first loss with a win. Streaky.
4. Miami Heat (28-13, previous No. 4) – The defending champion Heat just visited the White House on Monday. If they lose to teams without their best player like they did on Sunday to the Celtics, they won’t be back there next year. Still, the East is bad enough where they can return to the Finals.
5. Memphis Grizzlies (28-15 previous No. 5) – They blew out the Lakers and Nets at home, and then lost by 12 to the Hornets on Sunday. Nothing more than a trap game loss? Perhaps. Thursday’s game against the Thunder is appointment television.
6. Denver Nuggets (27-18, previous No. 6) – The Nuggets are in the midst of a six-game homestand, and there aren’t many harder places to play than in Denver. This team will be trouble in the postseason, just keep Peyton Manning away around that time.
7. Golden State Warriors (26-17, previous No. 8) – Last week started out great (wins over Clippers & Thunder) and ended poorly (losses to Bulls & Bucks). This week starts out great too, with news that Andrew Bogut is ready to go.
8. Brooklyn Nets (26-18, last week 7) – Perhaps no team was screwed more in All-Star game selections than the Nets. This is one of the better teams in the East, and not a single player earned All-Star honors. Brook Lopez isn’t an All-Star this year? The Mayans were … wait, no they weren’t.
9. Chicago Bulls (26-17, previous No. 11) – The Bulls keep doing their thing, and nobody seems to notice – or want to notice. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng (and Carlos Boozer!) have done a tremendous job without their MVP point guard.
10. New York Knicks (27-15, previous No. 10) – The Knicks continue their up-and-down play. Big wins over the Celtics and Hawks, but a 17-point loss to the 76ers sandwiched in the middle. They’re home for a bit, so that should help.
11. Indiana Pacers (26-18, previous No. 9) – Paul George: Two first names, one All-Star appearance coming up. He’s built off of last season’s success, and is a big reason Indy is where they are. How will it work when Danny Granger returns?
12. Atlanta Hawks (25-19, previous No. 12) – The Hawks comeback from over 20 points down against the Celtics not only showed their resiliency, but was a reason Rajon Rondo was in the game late, when he tore his ACL.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (23-19, last week No. 13) – Ersan Ilyasova was available in a lot of fantasy basketball leagues last week. He shouldn’t be this week: 25.5 points and 12.25 rebounds over last four games. The 6-foot-10 power forward drains threes too.
14. Utah Jazz (24-20, last week 15) – From Elias Sports Bureau: The Jazz OT win over the Pacers on Saturday improved their record to 14-5 in OT games over last four seasons. Third best in NBA. What does it mean?!
15. Houston Rockets (24-22, previous No. 16) – The All-Star Game will be in Houston this year, and one player from the home team will represent: James Harden. They’re playing about as good as they can with this current roster, and will look to greatly improve over the offseason.
16. Boston Celtics (21-23, last week 14) – Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Celtics, they lose Rajon Rondo for the season. That hurts. This team’s future is in serious limbo right now.
17. Portland Trail Blazers (22-22, previous No. 17) – An ugly six-game losing streak ended with wins over the Pacers and then Clippers. L.A. got revenge the next night though, but Portland will take that split. They remain a candidate for the eighth playoff spot.
18. Dallas Mavericks (19-25, last week 18) – Can Dirk Nowitzki will this team to more victories? Is Mark Cuban capable of watching his team flounder for an entire season?
19. Philadelphia 76ers (18-25, last week -) – The Sixers benefit from one thing: The East is still wide open. Reports are that Bynum is closer to returning. That is, until he gets injured snowboarding.
20. Los Angeles Lakers (19-25, last week -) – Hey! A two-game winning streak for the Lakers! This is news because they’ve been so terrible this season.