It's a new week, and that brings new major injuries to top teams. Therefore, we've had to make some small adjustments for this week's NBA power rankings.
As always, if you object to any of these rankings, you're probably right.
|Rank||Team||Record||Prev. Rank||Last Week ||SB Nation Blog|
||San Antonio Spurs||38-11||1||W: CHA, WAS
||Pounding the Rock|
|There's absolutely no reason to be worried about the Spurs' immediate prospects sans Tim Duncan -- they did, after all just win five games without him, and have already called Aron Baynes right back from the D-League. It just better not be anything serious wrong with Duncan's knee. We've had too many knee things already.|
|2||Oklahoma City Thunder||36-12
||2||W: MEM, DAL; L: @CLE
||Welcome to Loud City|
|Kyrie Irving's brilliant, unstoppable fourth quarter eclipsed generally flimsy OKC defense during that period. Irving wasn't the only one scoring out there. For whatever reason, the Thunder have struggled a bit against the Eastern Conference's bottom-dwellingest teams. I guess they're unlikely to face the Cavs or Wizards in the playoffs this year, so no worries.
||4||W: @BRO, @TOR CHA; L: @IND
||Hot Hot Hoops|
|The second-half push to beat Toronto secured Miami the East's best record at the All-Star break cut-off date, meaning Erik Spoelstra will coach his conference in Houston. That Miami -- a team blatantly mailing in whole games -- still leads the pack in early February says something about them, but I don't know what. Are they that good? Are they tempting fate and losing their edge with each half-assed defensive possession? Hard to say. It's kinda funny that no one in the conference has been able to catch them for good yet, though I guess the same goes for the Spurs and all their mid-season resting.
||5||W: HOU, NOH||Denver Stiffs|
|Denver's defense has come and gone during their six-game win streak, but they've consistently forced teams to play at their rapid pace and, led by Danilo Gallinari, shot the ball splendidly in the process.
||Los Angeles Clippers||34-15||3||W: @MIN; L: @TOR, @BOS, @WAS
|Ya know, hopefully it never gets to the point where the Clippers must learn to win consistently without Chris Paul, but they're certainly not there yet. (Without Paul AND Blake Griffin, it just ain't happening.)
|6||Golden State Warriors||30-17
||6||W: @TOR, @CLE, DAL, PHO
||Golden State of Mind|
|The extreme caution required in handling Stephen Curry's ankle stuff and Andrew Bogut's return makes the Warriors kind of a tease right now, but damn, do they look sharp when (relatively) fully staffed.
|7||New York Knicks||31-15
||7||W: ORL, MIL, SAC, DET
||Posting and Toasting|
|It took him some games to get his sea legs, but Amar'e Stoudemire is rolling right now. He's thriving in the pick-and-roll, finishing with his back to the basket, canning the occasional jumper, and facing up to go iso only sparingly and at the most opportune moments. And he's doing all of the above with and without Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the floor; that trio is showing ample signs of cohesion. Maybe it's all fleeting, but the Amar'e the Knicks got this past week felt like the best-case Amar'e. He dominated, and so did the Knicks against a succession of weak MSG visitors.
||8||W: WAS; L: @OKC||Straight Outta Vancouver|
|I'm of the opinion that, post-Rudy Gay trade, Memphis might actually might actually be more viable not only financially but competitively. Tayshaun Prince could have a lot to offer on a decent team that doesn't lean on him as a first option. Memphis's defense, however, has always struck me as a quintessential greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts-because-of-coaching-and-chemistry-and-stuff team, and if Lionel Hollins et al are feeling paranoid and grouchy with management, things may start to unravel.
||9||W: @MIL, @ATL; L: @BRO, @IND
||Blog a Bull|
|Hey, how about some more injuries?
||11||W: DET, MIA, CHI
|I spoke last week of a tough home stretch, but the Pacers -- who've been dominant at home all year -- started off on the right foot by dismantling the Pistons, Heat and short-handed Bulls. They're now even with Chicago in the Central Division standings.
||10||W: CHI; L: MIA
|Brooklyn's gotten a little sloppy over the last few, but deserving All-Star Brook Lopez reasserted his value by leading them through the muck against Chicago.
||12||W: CHA; L: @DEN
||The Dream Shake|
|Hey, maybe the Rockets have a new guy to turn to during these bouts of late-game slippage: Pat Pat! Pat Pat scored roughly 94 points in the fourth quarter to more than stave off the pesky Bobcats on Saturday. (Pat Pat is the super alter-ego of ordinary civilian Rick Terson).
||13||W: @DET, ORL; L: CHI, @NYK
|I get that the details of those '90s Bucks jerseys are corny, but I still think we ought to get back to uniforms with giant animal images on them.
||15||W: NOH, POR, SAC; L: @POR
|A stretch of important in-divison games ended with Utah still slightly above Portland and Houston in the standings, but their hold on what would be the seventh seed in the West feels precarious. Meanwhile, after we spent much of the early season talking about this team's lack of identity, it still feels like there's a struggle between releasing and maturing the young vs. exhausting the availability of the veterans. That might be why we keep hearing Jazzmen (One member of the Jazz = A note? A riff?) come up in trade rumors.
Portland Trail Blazers
||16||W: DAL, UTA, MIN; L: @UTA
|Portland kicked off a big but relatively manageable road trip by barely surviving a comeback from the Wolves. They'll head into the All-Star break with five more away games, but the stops are nicely spaced out and reach only two teams above .500 (Houston and Miami).
||17||W: SAC, ORL, LAC
|I figured Boston would go on a bit of a run post-Rajon Rondo injury, and they've indeed looked pretty solid in their new, headless form. This explosion of bench production -- Jeff Green has come alive, Jason Terry is hitting shots, Leandro Barbosa is suddenly an NBA player again -- has been key.
||14||W: TOR; L: CHI
Again, giant animal images. Good for the game. (The Hawks may have hit a low point, by the way, with Saturday's lifeless, embarrassing loss to the short-handed Bulls.)
|18||Los Angeles Lakers||22-26
||18||W: NOH, @MIN, @DET; L: @PHO
||Silver Screen and Roll|
|The Lakers keep edging mediocre teams while Dwight Howard copes with re-injury. Winning ugly is better than losing, I guess, but they can't survive every one of these fourth-quarter collapses (see Suns, Phoenix).
||20||W: WAS, SAC, ORL
|On one hand, the Sixers are rolling in their own Sixer-y way with a playoff berth in arm's reach. On the other hand, it looks like Thaddeus Young could be out a while.
||19||W: @PHO; L: @POR, @GSW, @OKC
|It feels a while ago now, but god DAMN was that finish in Portland amazing. Well, at least for those of us without a rooting interest on the floor. Mavs fans must have been curled in the fetal position during that entire back-and-forth, and for good reason. Even when they execute down the stretch, Dallas finds a way to lose those close games. It's an excruciating habit.
||23||W: LAC; L: @ATL, MIA
|Rudy Gay has looked cool and the Raptors ever more fun and high-flying, but Calderon and Ed Davis weren't empty jerseys, ya know.
||21||W: CLE; L: MIL, @IND, LAL, @NYK
||Detroit Bad Boys|
|I'm fascinated to see how Jose Calderon and the Pistons take to one another and if it amounts to a genuine playoff push. Calderon got the start immediately and makes sense there, I think, since he has historically thrived in that role and that role alone, but Lawrence Frank must work him into the rotation without upsetting the rhythms of Will Bynum and Brandon Knight.
||26||W: OKC; L: GSW, @DET
||Fear the Sword|
Dude ... dude. On top of Kyrie Irving's countless other virtues, I can't remember a player dominating so many crunch times with such unguardable isolation play since Gilbert Arenas's 2006-2007 season.
||24||W: LAC; L: @PHI, @MEM, @SAS
|I was thinking about Garrett Temple, and then I got to thinking about how if he were a synagogue, he could be Temple Gar-Et, and now I can't remember what I was gonna say about the Wizards.
|25||New Orleans Hornets||15-33
||22||L: @DAL, @UTA, @DEN, @MIN
||At the Hive|
|What a dreary four games in five nights it was. The Hornets don't seem to be having much fun playing basketball these days.
||25||W: NOH; L: LAC, LAL, POR
|The Wolves can still be a lot of fun, and it must have felt terrific to momentarily forget all the ills and just trample the Hornets this weekend. I very much that Ricky Rubio-fueled fourth-quarter comeback against the Blazers, too, though I guess you can only ride the Dante Cunningham 18-footer so far.
||28||W: LAL; L: @DAL, GSW||Bright Side of the Sun|
|Beating the Lakers in Steve Nash's return to Phoenix had to be satisfying, or at least as satisfying as any Phoenix win over L.A. Sleepwalking in Dallas and crapping away a good start against the Warriors: not as satisfying. (Then again, who am I to surmise what the Suns find satisfying? Maybe they're masochists. That would explain a lot, actually.)
||27||L: @BOS, @PHI, @NYK, @UTA
|Not the best road trip. :(
||29||L: @NYK, @BOS, @MIL, @PHI
||Orlando Pinstriped Post|
|I don't know if the Magic still had real designs on sneaking into the playoffs, but Glen Davis's injury (and, you know, all the other ones) probably seals their fate. Seems like all that remains to be determined is what becomes of J.J. Redick and how hard they intend to tank.
||30||L: @SAS, @HOU, @MIA
||Rufus on Fire|
|The last thing the Cats need on top of all this losing is scary injuries. It seems like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be okay but jeeeeeez, that knee to the head was horrifying. The Cats very nearly upended the Heat, but alas, they are the Cats.
|103||Juneau FrostDonkeys||0-0||112||--||None yet|
|Congratulations to Juneau point center Provolone Mims for winning the Donks' Super Bowl pool by being the only person to pick one of the teams to win. Every other FrostDonkey picked a tie. Many of them -- including Jason B., one of the recently signed stoats -- picked a 0-0 tie, perhaps because they're so accustomed to that result after so many canceled, postponed, and termite-infested games this season.