Our weekly NBA power ranking, from worst to first…
30. Los Angeles Clippers (9-32) — Finally snapped the losing streak at 12, but lost Marcus Camby in the process. With Camby, Kaman, Zach and Baron all nursing injuries, the Clips may want to consider having somebody carry Al Thornton and Eric Gordon from the plane to the hotel.
29. Memphis Grizzlies (11-30) — Last time we checked, Marc Gasol seems to have toned down the, um, baggage-handling at the free throw line. Do you think somebody in the organization had to have a talk with him?
28. Golden State Warriors (13-30) — Last-second finishes, triple-overtime games, more buckets than a 3BA game … at least they’re keeping it interesting.
27. Sacramento Kings (10-33) — At least last week’s triple-OT win over the Warriors will earn the Kings a spot on that “Top 10 Games of the Year” show this spring.
26. Washington Wizards (9-32) — Is it time to start over? The Wizards just committed a ton of money to Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler isn’t exactly making food-stamp money. But they haven’t won anything with this group, and they’ve got some attractive trade (or rebuilding) pieces.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (9-34) — Monumental week for OKC: Their first official blowout win (cracking the Jazz by 20), their first two-game win streak, then a buzzer-beating game-winner on the road via Jeff Green in Golden State.
24. Toronto Raptpors (16-28) — Long losing streaks, a questionable mid-season coaching change, mass injuries, trade rumors involving starters, and now a frustrated superstar publicly bickering with a teammate … it’s the stuff disastrous seasons are made of.
23. Indiana Pacers (15-27) — Not gonna lie, we’re giddy to see Team Mustache go up against the Rockets tomorrow.
22. New Jersey Nets (19-23) — The team is playing themselves out of a playoff spot (four straight L’s), while Devin Harris is trying to play himself out of an All-Star berth. He probably still gets in, but we could see him being that guy who makes the least impact in the actual game.
21. Charlotte Bobcats (17-25) — What happened to Adam Morrison? He seemed to be coming into his own as a Wally Szczerbiak-ish scorer off the bench, but over the last two months has disappeared in Larry Brown’s rotation. In January, Morrison has been averaging just 3.9 points in 11 minutes a night.
20. Chicago Bulls (18-25) — Luol Deng has posted four double-doubles in his last five games. Is 16 points and 10 boards a night good enough to justify that contract?
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-27) — If you look beyond Minny’s 7-2 record this month, you’ll see six of those wins have come against Golden State, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Chicago and the Clippers. At the same time, a win’s a win, right?
18. New York Knicks (17-24) — You know those “NFL Yearbook” shows that can make even the worst team look dangerous? The trick is to start off the episode focusing on one standout game. If the Knicks had an “NBA Yearbook” episode for the ’08-09 season, it would 100 percent start with Wednesday’s win over the Suns. David Lee and Co. looked as comfortable in Mike D’Antoni’s system as ever.
17. Miami Heat (22-19) — Shawn Marion might not like the trade rumors, but he’s playing like somebody who needs a fresh start.
16. Dallas Mavericks (24-18) — Still looking for words after Wednesday’s 34-point destruction in Milwaukee. Not a good time to have the Pistons and Celtics on the upcoming schedule, but at least Josh Howard is back in the lineup.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (21-24) — In the last week, Mike Redd dropped 44 points on the Kings and 27 on the Mavs, while shooting 50 percent from three-point range. He was on Team USA for a reason, ya know.
14. Atlanta Hawks (25-16) — Getting by without Al Horford and Marvin Williams, as Mike Bibby keeps playing at a near All-Star level. He’s making teams pay for doubling Joe Johnson.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (20-21) — The best sub-.500 team in the League recently knocked off the Spurs and Blazers during a seven-game win streak that would still be alive if not for Dirk’s game-winner on Monday. Did anyone get an explanation on why Reggie Evans was guarding Dirk in the first place? Unless you’re aiming to have Dirk more concerned with his balls than the ball, that’s a bad matchup.
12. Phoenix Suns (23-17) — You can’t blame Shaq for Amare’s struggles; Stoudemire played some of the best basketball of his career after Shaq came over in last season’s trade. It seems Amare has been letting the refs get into his head this year, and being held to three points partially at the hands of Brian Scalabrine is just unacceptable.
11. Detroit Pistons (24-17) — Talk about laying your issues out on the table: Four of Detroit’s next five games will be on national TV. Dallas on Friday, Houston on Sunday, Boston next Friday, then Cleveland next Sunday.
10. Utah Jazz (25-18) — Is Mehmet “The Money Man” Okur an All-Star? He’s been good for 17.7 points, 8.3 boards and 42 percent beyond the arc, plus he’s saved Utah’s collective ass in some close games.
9. Denver Nuggets (28-15) — Nene has become a near-lock for a double-double. He’s averaging 15 points and 10 boards over his last five games.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (25-17) — After going .500 in their last six games, the Blazers could use an easy stretch of schedule. Cue the Wizards and Clippers this week. Greg Oden looked ready for his breakout after dropping 24 points and 15 boards versus Milwaukee, but his next time out had another foul-filled effort (10 pts, 8 rebs) against Cleveland.
7. New Orleans Hornets (26-13) — With Tyson Chandler, David West and Hilton Armstrong out (meaning Sean Marks and Melvin Ely have been starting), it’s been up to Chris Paul and Peja to carry the load, and they looked good in wins over the Pacers and Nets this week.
6. Houston Rockets (27-16) — Six wins in their last seven, mostly without T-Mac and Ron Artest. The X-factor has been Von Wafer, who’s averaging 17.1 points during that stretch.
5. San Antonio Spurs (28-13) — Some say they’re the most dangerous team in the West. They looked on top of their game in dissecting the Pacers the other day, getting 27 points from Tim Duncan and 26 from Manu Ginobili.
4. Boston Celtics (35-9) — What slump? Six straight wins, the past four by an average of 18.5 points per game over the Nets (twice), Suns and Heat. It’s going to be difficult to keep Ray Allen (18.1 ppg, 108 threes) off the All-Star team, but would it be at the expense of Paul Pierce (19.1 ppg)?
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (32-8) — LeBron wasn’t able to wrestle the “Best Player in the World” title away from Kobe on MLK Day, but bounced back admirably with a 34-point, 14-assist effort against the Blazers. The Cavs are still unbeaten at home, and the rest of the month brings only the Kings and Clippers to Quicken Loans Arena. Their next legit home test? A national TV date with the Lakers on February 8.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (33-8) — Sometimes all it takes is one game. Could Andrew Bynum’s 42-point, 15-board line against the Clippers be that breakout? If AB really starts earning that big contract, the rest of the League is in trouble … unless of course Kobe wants to sit around and let his right hand fall off.
1. Orlando Magic (33-8) — Is there any other choice right now? The Magic handled the Lakers on the road as part of a perfect West Coast trip that also included a win at San Antonio, and go into tonight’s matchup with the Celtics riding a seven-game win streak. After that, they close out the month with tough tests against D-Wade, the giant-killing Pacers and LeBron’s Cavs.