NBA

Hornets, Celtics, Spurs Top NBA Power Rankings, Lakers Miss Top 5

| by Hoops Karma

The Hoops Karma Power Rankings examine how comparatively powerful or dominant each NBA team is right now. Obviously more recent games and happenings weigh heavier than those in the past, but a look at how the clubs have progressed throughout the season is necessary to get a sense of patterns that will continue or possibly change. Unlike college rankings, these are re-evaluated each time; no one has to wait for someone else to lose in order to move up if they’re doing well. Again, these look at how powerful a club is RIGHT NOW. Here are last week's rankings.

1. New Orleans Hornets (8-0): Winning big. Winning close. Offense. Defense. Dominant star player. They got it all right now. A double date with Dallas this week (Monday and Wednesday) should be fun.

2. Boston Celtics (8-2): A win over Miami is still a win over Miami. They suffered their first November loss, but losing by 2 in Dallas is hardly something to be concerned about.

3. San Antonio Spurs (8-1): Like some veteran clubs we've seen in the past, it looks like they're just making sure they win games without using the energy to make them blowouts. The Spurs finally face two good opponents in a row right after Thanksgiving (Dallas, NO).

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4. Dallas Mavericks (6-2): Doing everything right recently, including downing the Celtics. Their next two weeks include three back-to-backs (including ATL, Chicago, SA, Miami, and OKC) and two in a row against the Hornets. We'll find out soon how good they really are – or at least how they perform while exhausted.

5. Utah Jazz (7-3): Beating the Heat, Magic, and Hawks in a row, all on the road, shows they're figuring it out.

6. Los Angeles Lakers (8-2): Their best game this past week was a squeaker over Minnesota in LA. Too many forced shots with no teamwork at the end of close games. Thankfully it's smooth sailing on the schedule until late-December.

7. Denver Nuggets (5-4): Their last four games include W's over the Mavericks and Lakers, and that monster blowout to the Pacers. ??? Still trying to put it all together.

8. Phoenix Suns (5-4): They've generally taken care of business recently, including a win over the Lakers in LA.

9. Miami Heat (6-4): They continue to lose the close ones to good teams. No bad losses on the resume, but they go down too consistently to top teams to put them in that group right now.

10. Orlando Magic (6-3): Losing to Utah is one thing. Losing to Toronto is another. This week's games against Memphis and Phoenix are an opportunity to prove they haven't slid too far of late.

11. Chicago Bulls (5-3): Their D has picked them up a couple nice wins recently (Denver, over GS by 30), but now they get a killer gut check: 7 in a row on the road, the first 6 of which are Houston, SA, Dallas, LAL, Phoenix, and Denver. Who comes up with this junk?

12. Houston Rockets (3-6): After a grueling start to the season, the Rockets are back to looking like the .500 club we expected.

13. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-4): Since opening night, every win was by the thinnest of margins and every loss was a blowout. Their impending coming out party has yet to begin.

14. Portland Trail Blazers (6-5): Four recent losses. Four back-to-backs so far. And now Brandon Roy is hurt. This is getting tough to watch, but they still have the talent to pull some games out.

15. Memphis Grizzlies (4-6): The Grizzlies are doing pretty much nothing out of character with what we came to expect from them last year. Lose to the good ones, beat the bad ones. If they ever played as well as the money they dish out, look out.

16. Milwaukee Bucks (5-5): Their league-best D has them back on track. They'd be great if they could ever start hitting shots (league second-worst 42% FG).

17. Golden State Warriors (6-4): It's good to see them beating some bottom-feeders, but they still have trouble with second-tier squads like Chicago and Milwaukee.

18. Atlanta Hawks (7-4): Remember when they were 6-0? They stopped playing nothing but crap – that's what happened.

19. Detroit Pistons (4-6): Behind some hot shooting (especially from deep) the Pistons have picked up four wins in the past 10 days. They haven't beaten anyone great, or by many points, but four wins for a bad club like Detroit are crucial to changing a culture of losing.

20. Indiana Pacers (4-4): Beating Denver (Cleveland wasn't a bad win for them either) will get you out of the bottom-bottom group for a little while. They're the #8 team in the East.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-8): I still have no faith in them to be decent, but isn't it weird what happens when you play your best player more than 25 minutes per game?

22. New Jersey Nets (3-6): Four of their last seven contests were against Miami and Orlando. They went 1-2 in the other three. Do you realize they're second in the Atlantic right now?

23. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-5): Very easy stretch of five games (Phi, Wash, NJ, NJ, Ind), and they came out of it only 3-2 with no big wins. Enjoy NO and SA back-to-back on the road this weekend.

24. Charlotte Bobcats (3-7): Last five games: 2 wins over bad teams, 3 losses to good teams by a total of 8 points. Not too shabby for a low-end squad.

25. Philadelphia 76ers (2-8): The Sixers had a chance against OKC, but their third win will have to come (hopefully) against one of their upcoming contests with Toronto (twice), Washington, or Cleveland.

26. New York Knicks (3-7): NY is in the midst of a massive, 5-losses-in-a-row free fall (that we all knew was coming at some point) and the only team they lost to in that stretch with a winning record was the Warriors.

27. Toronto Raptors (2-8): Still terrible defense. Still generally terrible overall. Somehow they beat the Magic in Orlando(?). I suspect the Sixers will get the better of them in their two upcoming games – we'll see.

28. Washington Wizards (2-6): John Wall's stats have been looking better recently – the Zards still haven't, but at least they picked up a second win.

29.Sacramento Kings (3-6): Five L's in a row, including three to teams with losing records.

30. Los Angeles Clippers (1-9): The Clips just came out of a really tough stretch, and they celebrate by  losing to the Pistons