Ranking the NBA from worst to first …
30. Sacramento Kings (5-20)
Last week — Lost at Houston, lost at New Orleans, lost at Oklahoma City, lost to Houston
Thirteen losses in their last 14 tries, but at least DeMarcus Cousins is starting to produce. He’s averaged 17 points and 9.5 boards in his last four games.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-19)
Last week — Lost at Miami, lost at Indiana, beat New York
Between the Cavs (26th-ranked offense in the NBA) and Browns (28th in the NFL) struggles, the city of Cleveland needs to commission Prince for a regular gig just to get its scoring average up.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (6-22)
Last week — Lost at Golden State, lost at Phoenix, lost at Portland, lost at Denver
After hanging 43 points and 17 boards on the Nuggets, Kevin Love is making it harder to keep him out of the All-Star Game.
27. Washington Wizards (6-19)
Last week — Lost to L.A. Lakers, lost at New Jersey, lost to Miami
Word is Rashard Lewis may start at power forward, with Andray Blatche moving to center and Josh Howard at the three. Why do coaches keep insisting on making Raw Lew something he’s not?
26. New Jersey Nets (8-20)
Last week — Lost to Philadelphia, beat Washington, lost at Toronto, beat Atlanta
As good as Devin Harris has been for them lately, don’t count out the Nets quietly tanking to get a crack at hometown hero Kyrie Irving.
25. Detroit Pistons (9-19)
Last week — Beat Atlanta, lost to L.A. Clippers, beat New Orleans
Jason Maxiell would be so much more useful on a winning team.
24. Los Angeles Clippers (7-21)
Last week — Lost at Philadelphia, won at Detroit, won at Chicago
If there is one Kryptonite for Blake Griffin, it’s the free-throw line. He’s only hitting 57% of his shots from the stripe.
23. Golden State Warriors (9-17)
Last week — Lost at Utah, beat Minnesota, lost at Portland
In case you missed it, No. 6 overall pick Ekpe Udoh is back from his summer wrist injury. He played a total of eight minutes in his first three games, compiling one rebound and two points.
22. Toronto Raptors (10-18)
Last week — Lost at Charlotte, lost to Chicago, beat New Jersey, lost to L.A. Lakers
After coming up short against the World Champions over the summer, Linas Kleiza put in a good effort against the NBA champs (26 pts, 10 rebs) but his team still couldn’t manage a W.
21. Charlotte Bobcats (9-17)
Last week — Beat Toronto, lost at Memphis, lost at Atlanta
Popular sentiment in Charlotte is that instead of trading Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson, the ‘Cats should fire Larry Brown. But then how do we know Jordan wouldn’t hire Matt Doherty to replace him?
20. Milwaukee Bucks (10-15)
Last week — Won at Dallas, lost at San Antonio, lost to Utah
It seems like Brandon Jennings is sophomore-slumping, but he’s actually shooting 2 percentage points higher from the field than his rookie year and scoring more. And yet he’s still under 40% as a shooter.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (11-16)
Last week — Won at New Jersey, beat L.A. Clippers, lost to L.A. Lakers, won at Orlando
Can you imagine how sick Ohio State would be right now with Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger? And with the way Evan’s PT has dropped lately, you know he’s thought about it.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (14-14)
Last week — Lost at Memphis, lost at Dallas, beat Minnesota, beat Golden State
Waiting to see how Brandon Roy and Andre Miller play together once B-Roy comes back from his latest knee troubles. Both guys are usually professionals on the court, but the rumors going around have to play a factor.
17. Memphis Grizzlies (12-16)
Last week — Beat Portland, beat Charlotte, lost at Houston, lost at San Antonio
Zach Randolph had two 20-20 games last week: 25 points and 20 boards against the Blazers, then 24-21 against the Spurs.
16. Houston Rockets (12-15)
Last week — Beat Sacramento, lost at Oklahoma City, beat Memphis, won at Sacramento
Since coming over in the trade, Terrence Williams has played as many minutes for Houston as Yao Ming.
15. Indiana Pacers (12-14)
Last week — Lost at Chicago, lost to L.A. Lakers, beat Cleveland, lost at Boston
For a team that is shaky at best at the power forward position, it looks bad with David West, Zach Randolph and Kevin Garnett coming up on the schedule over the next eight days.
14. Atlanta Hawks (17-12)
Last week — Lost at Detroit, lost at Boston, beat Charlotte, lost at New Jersey
Joe Johnson came back from elbow surgery in two weeks, half the time he was expected to be out. But he’s shooting 30% from the field and 2-for-12 beyond the arc since his return.
13. Phoenix Suns (13-13)
Last week — Beat Minnesota, lost at Dallas, won at Oklahoma City
How far as Vince Carter fallen off in the eyes of the public when his expiring contract is considered his greatest asset?
12. New Orleans Hornets (16-11)
Last week — Lost at Miami, beat Sacramento, beat Utah, lost at Detroit
Chris Paul got a rare head-to-head win over Deron Williams, then followed it up by losing to Will Bynum.
11. Orlando Magic (16-10)
Last week — Lost at Denver, lost to Philadelphia
The new starting five: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass and Dwight, with Gilbert Arenas leading the second unit.
10. New York Knicks (16-12)
Last week — Lost to Boston, lost to Miami, lost at Cleveland
Their three-game collapse wasn’t as swift as the Giants’ crumpling against the Eagles, but just as demoralizing.
9. Denver Nuggets (16-10)
Last week — Beat Orlando, lost to San Antonio, beat Minnesota
They’re still trying to wash Gary Neal’s facial hair out of J.R. Smith’s shorts.
8. Chicago Bulls (16-9)
Last week — Beat Indiana, won at Toronto, lost to L.A. Clippers
Derrick Rose missed a free throw with 0.8 on the clock that cost the Bulls a chance to extend their win streak to eight. With the Sixers (twice), Wizards, Knicks, Pistons, Bucks, Nets (twice), Cavs and Raptors coming up, though, they can realistically run off another long string of W’s.
7. Utah Jazz (19-9)
Last week — Beat Golden State, lost at New Orleans, won at Milwaukee
Just when you were getting used to seeing Francisco Elson on the court in crunch time, Mehmet Okur returns to the lineup.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-9)
Last week — Beat Houston, beat Sacramento, lost to Phoenix
After a 1-for-6 shooting effort behind the three-point line in the loss to Phoenix, Kevin Durant is hitting just 29% of his threes this season. And he’s still leading the League in scoring.
5. Los Angeles Lakers (21-7)
Last week — Won at Washington, won at Indiana, won at Philadelphia, won at Toronto
Before the big Christmas Day game against Miami, Andrew Bynum gets his toughest test yet when he faces Andrew Bogut this week.
4. Dallas Mavericks (21-5)
Last week — Lost to Milwaukee, beat Portland, beat Phoenix
Brutal week ahead with Miami, Orlando and Oklahoma City, all on the road.
3. Miami Heat (21-8)
Last week — Beat New Orleans, beat Cleveland, won at New York, won at Washington
Notice how less and less people are dumping on Chris Bosh now? He’s averaging 18.5 points and 8.9 boards in Miami’s undefeated December, and he saved them against the Wizards with his shooting and defense.
2. Boston Celtics (22-4)
Last week — Won at New York, beat Atlanta, beat Indiana
The injuries keep piling up, yet the Celtics keep finding ways to win. The streak is at 13 in a row now, without Rondo, Perkins, J.O. and Delonte in the lineup.
1. San Antonio Spurs (23-3)
Last week — Beat Milwaukee, won at Denver, beat Memphis
After the Pistons beat the Hornets on Sunday, one of Detroit’s announcers yelled, “Too many heroes to count!” as the team walked off the floor. That’s what it’s like for the Spurs right now. There’s no telling who will step up and be the difference-maker, whether it’s Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, George Hill, Matt Bonner…