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NBA Power Rankings, Week 4: Lakers Overtaken By Hornets, Spurs Despite Winning Four Straight

The Lakers are 12-2 and on a four-game winning streak. But that still isn't enough to make them the best team in the Western Conference in Week 4's NBA Power Rankings.

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Nine of the greatest (aka most available) minds from around SB Nation's basketball network came together to create this season's weekly NBA Power Rankings. The rankings themselves are based on a complicated mathematic formula that makes the BCS Computer Rankings look like second grade chicken-scratch. In other words, we all vote and then count the votes.

We will be bringing you NBA Power Rankings each week and have decided to present them by conference instead of all together. While fans of a few top teams want to know how they rank up with the best of the best, we feel that more people will be served if we talk about how teams are ranked within their conferences. Each week a different author will present the power rankings but the list itself is a collaborative effort. That way, you have no one to yell at.

Records and voting do not include action from Monday night.

It was an interesting week in the NBA. Not really, but it helps to say things like that when you want people to read your stuff. The reality is, no one reads these introductory paragraphs. We all just glance through the lists and nod knowingly and occasionally shake our fists with impunity at the computer screen. We read what's written about our team and maybe one or two more and then move along with our day mostly missing out on the embrace of the warmth and goodness that only awaits those who read each and every word. Live long and prosper.

Western Conference 


1. New Orleans Hornets: Record - 11-1

Last week's Ranking: 2, SB Nation Blog: At the Hive

All hail the new King. But do we really, truly, trust our new power rankings leader? Not yet. After splitting a home and home with the Mavs, the Hornets beat Cleveland and Sacramento, not exactly a tough schedule.

Trading Peja and Jeryyyyidd for Jack, Anderson and the MBEC (Marcus Banks Expiring Contract) is interesting, but then again so is Sarah Palin's new TV show. We are equally skeptical that either has much substance beyond their questionable sex appeal.

2.  San Antonio Spurs: Record - 11-1

Last Week's Ranking - 3, SB Nation Blog: Pounding the Rock

A decisive win in Utah impressed our voters. Persevering through the loss of Eva Longoria as a sideline fixture is even more amazing. What else can you say about this team, the Borg can't be stopped. Resistance is futile.


3.  Los Angeles Lakers: Record - 12-2

Last Week's Ranking: 1, SB Nation Blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Go 4-0 on the week and drop to third place; life's hard in the West and Ron Artest is still a fox. The Lakers likely were punished by voters for having a cupcake schedule but more likely they are feeling what the loss of Theo Ratliff can mean to their power rankings love.


Next week, the Lakers actually have a difficult road game (Utah) -- the second of their season. They lost the first. 


4.  Utah Jazz: Record - 9-5

Last Week's Ranking: 4, SB Nation Blog: SLC Dunk

Nice road win over the Roy-less Trail Blazers. Tough home losses to the Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs The Borg. The Jazz are obviously still getting hangover love from previous week's incredible four-game East Coast win trip. That was some trip, huh. 

.5.  Dallas Mavericks: Record - 8-4

Last Week's Ranking: 5, SB Nation Blog: Mavs Moneyball

First two-game losing streak for the NBA's darlings of the regular season but there's no shame losing to the Hornets and Bulls. Unlike the Lakers, however, the Mavs have three tough games (Thunder, Spurs, and Heat) coming up which could send them spiraling down down in our rankings from fifth to possibly sixth.  

6.  Oklahoma City Thunder: Record - 9-4

Last Week's Ranking: 7, SB Nation Blog: Welcome to Loud City

It was a very impressive week for the Thunder, going 4-0 with nice wins over the Celtics and Jazz and so-so wins over the Bucks and Rockets. That seems to have calmed the hyperactive nerves of the all the pundits who were peeing their pants after a preseason object of their love started slow. The wins should have the bandwagon filling right back up. So should Russel Westbrook winning Player of the Week.

The following video might have the best music ever used in a highlight YouTube, ever!!


7.  Denver Nuggets: Record - 7-6

Last Week's Ranking: 6, SB Nation Blog: Denver Stiffs

Denver went 2-2 last week with wins over the New York and New Jersey and losses to Phoenix and Portland. So why are the Nuggets ranked this high? Because voters were pre-adjusting for the return of The Birdman!!! 

Fly, be free!

8.  Portland Trail Blazers: Record - 8-6

Last Week's Ranking: 10, SB Nation Blog: Blazers Edge

Portland went 2-2 last week with wins over Denver and Memphis and losses to New Orleans and Utah. So why are the Blazers ranked this high? Because the voters obviously feel sad :( for Greg Oden's and Brandon Roy's broke knees. And because we've reached that point in the rankings where 2-2 is a good week.

9.  Phoenix Suns: Record - 6-7

Last Week's Ranking: 8, SB Nation Blog: Bright Side of the Sun

Three nice wins including the Lakers and Nuggets and the Suns were rising high. Three losses on the road without Nash and their season has obviously set. It's going to be that kind of year for the Suns who defensively have reverted back to form and offensively ran Jared Dudley as the backup point guard for two games. It's that bad.


10.  Golden State Warriors: Record - 7-6

Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Golden State of Mind

I think it's fair to say that when one of your best player gets an infection from the bite of a zombie that's so bad he has to spend days in the hospital fighting the urge to eat human flesh, that you've had a rough week. This year's Warriors might be for real but without Lee they are hosed. With David Lee it's going to take a well-placed shot between the eyes to put them down. Zombies are the new Vampires dontchya know.

11.  Memphis Grizzlies: Record - 5-9

Last Week's Ranking - 11, SB Nation Blog: Straight Outta Vancouver

Can anyone explain this team? Fine, consecutive losses to Dallas, Boston, Orlando and Portland are understandable but how do they get beat by the Wizards and then get a win over the Heat. Young NBA teams with talent and teenage girls with credit cards are equally irresponsible and unpredictable. Plus Mike Conley.


12.  Houston Rockets: Record - 3-9

Last Week's Ranking: 12, SB Nation Blog: The Dream Shake

The Rockets had another winless week but still retain some bit of trust from our voters that they will find a way to turn their season around. Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks missing from the line up doesn't help anything but then again, can anyone really say they didn't expect Ming to miss time this season?


13.  Sacramento Kings: Record - 4-8

Last week's ranking: 13, SB Nation Blog: Sactown Royalty

Lose to New York. Beat New Jersey. Lose to New Orleans. Nothing New here, move along.

14.  Minnesota Timberwolves: Record - 4-10

Last Week's Ranking: 14, SB Nation Blog: Canis Hoopus

Remember that awesome 30/30 game from Kevin Love? That was soooo awesome!!! The Timberwolves have one win since. Over the Clippers. Awesome.

15.  Los Angeles Clippers: Record - 1-13

Last Week's Ranking: 15, SB Nation Blog: Clips Nation

Really, HE is the only thing that matters but boy does HE matter. Even Amare agrees.


Eastern Conference

DO BELIEVE IN MAGIC? (yup, went there)

1.  Orlando Magic: Record - 9-3

Last Week's Ranking: 2, SB Nation Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post

Orlando has compiled a 9-3 record so far this season but has done so without defeating any of the NBA's other elite teams - unless you count the Hawks, which nobody does. They'll get two such chances this week with games against San Antonio and a return match with Miami - who beat them by 26 in the second game of the season. Good luck!


2.  Boston Celtics: Record - 9-4

Last Week's Ranking: 1, SB Nation Blog: Celtics Blog

I hope no one is surprised that the Celtics had a let-down and loss-of-focus game against the Toronto Raptors. That's what they do. Now with Rondo out and team having proved they can play, we can expect them to coast at around .500 for the next few months before sacrificing a Leprechaun and flipping the switch when it matters. Ho hum.

3.  Chicago Bulls: Record - 7-4




Last Week's Ranking: 4, SB Nation Blog: Blog-a-Bull

Derrick Rose is still fantastic but we'll see how the Bulls do without Taj Gibson with the Lakers, Suns and Nuggets loaming in the next week. In the mean time, see if you can't find John Wall's ankles in this video.




4.  Miami Heat: Record - 8-5

Last Week's Ranking: 3, SB Nation Blog: Peninsula is Mightier

Poor Miami Heat. They follow up three-straight wins with a road loss in Memphis and then get the gut punch of Udonis Haslem going down with a serious foot injury. Sure, they will be the winners of the Erick Dampier sweepstakes, but our pity and sorrow for the Heat will not be easily assuaged. 





5.  Atlanta Hawks: Record - 8-5

Last Week's Ranking: 5, SB Nation Blog: Peachtree Hoops

Josh Smith is on a tear and the Hawks are winning on the road and yet they've pretty much guaranteed they will stay ranked between fourth and sixth all season in the power rankings. Congrats on that, Hawks. You've enshrined yourself in the halls of all-time good but not great teams and there's nothing on the horizon that's going to change that.

6. Indiana Pacers: Record - 5-6

Last Week's Ranking: 7, SB Nation Blog: Indy Cornrows

I admit the Pacers are better than I thought they would be, but of course they've also only beaten one good team this year and it is questionable if Denver should be considered "good". This past week was typical with losses to Atlanta and Orlando and a win over the Clippers. I take it back, I admit nothing.

7.  Milwaukee Bucks: Record - 5-8

Last Week's Ranking: 6, SB Nation Blog: Brew Hoop

Andrew Bogut is not happy with his team's 5-8 record. What he really means is that he's pissed about losing to the 76ers this week which is enough to make any Australian-Croatian seven-footer lose his cool. 

8.  Cleveland Cavaliers: Record - 5-7

Last Week's Ranking: 8, SB Nation Blog: Fear the Sword

There's a trend emerging here with these middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference teams. They take turns beating up on each other and lose to anyone good. Put another way, the Cavs 5-7 record is just as unimpressive as the Pacers 5-8 record.


9.  New York Knicks: Record - 6-8

Last Week's Ranking: 11, SB Nation Blog: Posting and Toasting

The New York Knicks have won three-in-a-row! Basketball is back in the Big Apple, baby!! All is right with the NBA world again!!! Finally!!!!

Kings, Warriors (no D. Lee), Clippers. Shhhh, don't tell the New York media the teams they beat all suck too.

Here's a look at the epic Knicks victory over the Clippers.


10.  Charlotte Bobcats: Record - 5-8

Last Week's Ranking: 9, SB Nation Blog: Rufus on Fire

The Bobcats got their first franchise triple-double when Stephen Jackson went nuts on the Suns. But it really shouldn't count since it was the Suns. It's as if players were allowed to carry their D-league stats over to the NBA.

11.  Toronto Raptors: Record - 5-9

Last Week's Ranking: 15, SB Nation Blog: Raptors HQ

Unlike the rest of the mediocre teams, the Raptors at least have wins over the Magic and now the Celtics and yet they are generally considered one of the worst teams in the league. We at least give them the credit they deserve, one step above the Pistons.

12.  Detroit Pistons: Record - 5-8

Last Week's Ranking: 10, SB Nation Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Congratulations to the league's most dysfunctional team for beating the Wizards this week. We wish you all the best in your inevitable coaching change and mass trades to come.

13.  New Jersey Nets: Record - 4-9

Last Week's Ranking: 12, SB Nation Blog: Nets Daily

Here's a riddle: Over the past week the Nets played four games and scored in the hundred's in two of them and in the 80's in the other two. They lost three and won one. Guess which game they won.

Hint: The Clippers were involved.


14.  Philadelphia 76ers: Record - 3-10

Last Week's Ranking: 13, SB Nation Blog: Liberty Ballers

Here's what the Sixers should do. Trade their best players and get some more of that yummy salary cap and wait for the promise of tomorrow. Look how well it's worked for the Pistons who have two more wins and an easier schedule.

15.  Washington Wizards: Record - 4-8

Last Week's Ranking: 14, SB Nation Blog: Bullets Forever

John Wall. Just keep repeating that name to yourself and eventually the nightmare will end. John Wall. 

As in this kid, John Wall, who totally gets D-fence: