The Pacers are playing very solid basketball and claiming in the rankings.Getty Images

1. Golden State Warriors (18-0) Last week: 1

The Warriors got their first big taste of "next man up" with Harrison Barnes missing time with an ankle injury. Brandon Rush slid into the starting lineup and scored 16 points. As you can guess, the Warriors won - again.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-4) Last week: 2

LeBron James is officially holding his team to its highest standards . . . ever. James and the Cavs lead the Eastern Conference with a 13-4 record, but he still felt the need to call a players-only meeting to discuss the team's effort.

3. San Antonio Spurs (14-3) Last week: 3

Last week we mentioned how Tim Duncan failed to grab a rebound in a game for the first time in his career. So now we're obligated to tell you he grabbed 18 against the Hawks on Saturday. Yup, he can still play.

4. Miami Heat (10-5) Last week: 4


The Heat can make the case of having the NBA's best defense up to this point in the season. They lead the league in opponent field goal percentage at 40.3-percent and allow 91.7 points per game, second to the Spurs.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-6) Last week: 5

Kevin Durant returned three games ago and the Thunder won by 22, 11, and 16, respectively. That's not a coincidence, folks. With him on the court, the Thunder can beat anybody.

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6. Atlanta Hawks (11-8) Last week: 6

The Hawks haven't won two games in a row since Nov. 7, and just got smoked in San Antonio by 20 points. It won't be easy this week with games against the Thunder and Raptors - but these are teams they'll need to compete with.

7. Indiana Pacers (11-5) Last week: 12

The Pacers didn't let Kobe Bryant's retirement announcement shortly before their matchup affect them, as they were able to take care of business. They're 11-2 since beginning the season 0-3.

8. Dallas Mavericks (10-7) Last week: 7

Rick Carlisle recently said Rajon Rondo will be a max player next year. You can bet the Mavs won't be making any offers. Who should the fans dislike more: Rondo or DeAndre Jordan? It's gotta be close. Either way, they're doing OK without them.

9. Toronto Raptors (11-7) Last week: 8

A loss on the road to Phoenix wipes out an impressive four-game winning streak over teams that include the Clippers, Cavaliers, and Wizards. Next up: A big one in Atlanta.

10. Chicago Bulls (9-8) Last week: 10

The Bulls are dealing with a few nagging injuries to their role players, but playing nine of their next ten games at home should help matters out.

11. Los Angeles Clippers (9-8) Last week: 11

With a win over the T-Wolves on Sunday, the Clippers won consecutive games for the first time since starting the season 4-0. It's been an ugly stretch, but there's still plenty of time for them to fool us into thinking they're legit.

12. Memphis Grizzlies (10-8) Last week: 16

Zach Randolph returned to the Griz after a five-game absence and finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds over 32 minutes. The Griz have climbed their way back into the middle of things out West.

13. Utah Jazz (8-7) Last week: 14

The Jazz play a stingy defense, allowing just 93.2 points per game (third in NBA) but haven't figured things out quite yet offensively, as they average 95.5 points per game (28th in the NBA).

14. Phoenix Suns (8-9) Last week: 15

The Suns kicked off their six-game road trip on the right foot with a big win over the Raptors that also snapped a four-game losing streak. Winnable games ahead in Brooklyn, Detroit, and Washington could put this team back on track.

15. Charlotte Hornets (10-7) Last week: 19

The Hornets have won five of their last six games, but news that Al Jefferson has to get an MRI on his strained left calf is tough. Cody Zeller will see more minutes with him out.

16. Orlando Magic (9-8) Last week: 22

Fun stat for Magic fans. The Magic were 9-6 in November, the first winning month for the team since March of 2012. That's a sure sign that they are on the right track.

17. Boston Celtics (9-8) Last week: 13

Boston has allowed 110-plus points in its last three road games - all losses by double digits. If not for 33-point win over the Wizards, this would be an especially ugly stretch.

18. Washington Wizards (6-8) Last week: 9

Blown out by the Celtics, beaten at the buzzer by the Raptors. This team is finding all types of ways to lose. The concerning thing is a lack of effort on a consistent basis. Perhaps they miss Paul Pierce's veteran presence over there.

19. Houston Rockets (7-10) Last week: 17

Dwight Howard received an ally-oop from Marcus Thornton and slammed it home over Knicks rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis in overtime of an eventual Rockets win. Will that wake up this team? Probably not.

20. Portland Trailblazers (7-10) Last week: 23

Good news for the Blazers as they got 7-foot-1 Meyers Leonard back on the court after missing seven games with a dislocated shoulder. They'll eventually slide him back into the starting lineup.

21. New York Knicks (8-10) Last week: 18

Four straight losses for the Knicks, the most recent of which came after blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead to the Rockets (of all teams…). That's a really bad loss. Let's see how Derek Fisher turns things around.

22. Detroit Pistons (8-9) Last week: 20

It's cool that the Pistons will retire Ben Wallace's and Chauncey Billups' jerseys this season. Those guys made up some tough, gritty seasons in Detroit years back. Fun team to watch back then.

23. Sacramento Kings (6-12) Last week: 24

The Kings aren't expected to do a whole lot this season, but they certainly won't do anything (except lose, most likely) without DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed three straight games and eight overall. The Kings are 1-7 in those games.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-9) Last week: 25

A great article by ESPN's Jackie MacMullan went deep into Kevin Garnett's mentality as his career winds down. He knows he's the "OG - original gangster" and he's accepting that role. His young teammates are benefiting greatly.

25. Milwaukee Bucks (6-11) Last week: 21

The disappointing Bucks are now 2-8 over their last ten games, and if Jason Kidd isn't on the hot seat, I don't know why. He hasn't shown much as a head coach, except a few examples of his unprofessionalism.

26. Denver Nuggets (6-11) Last week: 26

Six straight losses for the Nuggets heading into Monday's game in Milwaukee, but at least Kenneth Faried is back from his ankle injury.

27. New Orleans Pelicans (4-13) Last week: 27

The Pelicans may have lost their last two games, but they're just happy to have Anthony Davis out there after watching him get carried off the court with a knee injury on Friday. Now that was scary.

28. Brooklyn Nets (4-13) Last week: 29

A two-point loss to the Cavaliers and most recently a win over the Pistons, and it looks like the Nets are at least competing enough that we can say they're better than the Lakers now. Baby steps.

29. Los Angeles Lakers (2-14) Last week: 28

Kobe Bryant has officially called this season his final one. After watching him struggle through the first two months, it's no huge surprise. Still, Kobe is one of the greatest of all time and his farewell tour has now begun.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-18) Last week: 30

Really bad week for Jahlil Okafor off the court. That's another huge problem for this young 76ers team - what veterans are going to want to play there and set good examples for the young guys?

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