1. Indiana Pacers (27-6, Last week: 1)
The Pacers actually looked mortal last week, losing by double-digits to the upstart Raptors and nearly blowing a big fourth-quarter lead against a short-handed Cavaliers squad. But that wasn't enough to drop Indiana in the rankings.
More on the Pacers: Indy Cornrows
2. Miami Heat (26-8, Last week: 2)
The Heat were in danger of losing two straight games at home for the first time all season when the Raptors went up by nine in the third quarter on Sunday. But as they often do, the two-time defending champs locked down and made enough plays to secure the victory.
More on the Heat: Hot Hot Hoops
3. San Antonio Spurs (26-8, Last week: 5)
The Spurs had quite the eventful week. Two blowouts were sandwiched around a tough loss to the Knicks that featured a crazy shooting duel between Marco Belinelli and Iman Shumpert. The week ended with the news that big man Tiago Splitter would miss three-to-five weeks with a shoulder injury.
More on the Spurs: Pounding The Rock
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (27-7, Last week: 4)
The Thunder have shown a few chinks in the armor with Russell Westbrook sidelined and the offense sputtering in the fourth quarter during a recent two-game losing streak. Kevin Durant changed that on Saturday, scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter alone to stun the Timberwolves:
More on the Thunder: Welcome to Loud City
5. Portland Trail Blazers (26-8, Last week: 3)
The Blazers are still rolling with the NBA's best offense, and it was on fully display during a 134-104 shellacking of the Bobcats on Thursday. However, Portland is just 21st in the league in defensive rating, which could be a big problem come playoff time.
More on the Blazers: Blazer's Edge
6. Golden State Warriors (23-13, Last week: 8)
It was one hell of a week for the Warriors, who are riding a nine-game winning streak. First, Golden State went into Miami and set the place on fire, knocking down 15 three-pointers in a victory. The next night against the Hawks, the Warriors stormed back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit and won on another Andre Iguodala buzzer-beater:
More on the Warriors: Golden State Of Mind
7. Houston Rockets (22-13, Last week: 7)
After a disappointing eight-point performance against his former team, James Harden scored 75 points over the next two games. Much of that work came from beyond the arc and at the line, with Harden going 10-of-21 from deep and 21-22 from the charity stripe in two games.
More on the Rockets: The Dream Shake
8. Phoenix Suns (20-12, Last week: 9)
Eric Bledsoe made his return to the Staples Center to face the Clippers for the first time since being dealt this offseason, and although Bledsoe struggled, his Suns teammates picked him up in a blowout victory. Bledsoe is dealing with a knee injury now, but Gerald Green has filled in and provided some filthy dunks:
Also, Leandro Barbosa back!
More on the Suns: Bright Side Of The Sun
9. Los Angeles Clippers (23-13, Last week: 6)
It's not a good time to be a stud NBA point guard. Derrick Rose is out for the year again. Russell Westbrook had a third surgery in eight months. Kyrie Irving is dealing with a knee problem. Rajon Rondo is still recovering from an ACL tear. Deron Williams has had ankle problems. Now, Chris Paul is out up to six weeks because of a shoulder injury. Have we angered the Basketball Gods or something?
More on the Clippers: Clips Nation
10. Toronto Raptors (16-16, Last week: 12)
The Raptors may not have held on against the Heat on Sunday, but it certainly wasn't a bad loss. Toronto is playing some really inspired basketball of late, and their victory over the Pacers early last week was probably their most impressive of the season. Up next? A rematch with Indiana.
More on the Raptors: Raptors HQ
11. Dallas Mavericks (19-15, Last week: 11)
The Mavs started the season 11-2 on their home floor, but after a hideous loss at the hands of the Knicks on Sunday, they're now just 11-6. To distract from that, here's some players doing an Anchorman spoof:
More on the Mavs: Mavs Moneyball
12. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17, Last week: 10)
The Wolves continue to falter in close games, moving to 0-9 on the season in games decided by four points or less after a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder at home. In this latest choke, Kevin Love missed four late free throws, including all three when he had the chance to put Minnesota up late.
More on the Wolves: Canis Hoopus
13. Atlanta Hawks (18-16, Last week: 15)
The Hawks haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire since Al Horford went down, but they move up two spots thanks to the issues with the teams around them. Kyle Korver's three streak is still alive and now stands at 103 games.
More on the Hawks: Peachtree Hoops
14. New Orleans Pelicans (15-17, Last week: 13)
The Pelicans suffered a major injury scare when Ryan Anderson was carried off the court on a stretcher in a win over the Celtics on Friday night. Anderson was diagnosed with a cervical stinger and remained in a Boston hospital overnight — a bummer for a guy who also missed time earlier this year with a toe injury.
More on the Pelicans: The Bird Writes
15. Denver Nuggets (16-17, Last week: 16)
The Nuggets, and especially Nate Robinson, had a little fun at the Lakers' expense on Sunday. As Denver blew their game open in the fourth quarter, Robinson put on his own little dunk show, earning a technical for hanging on the rim on this alley-oop:
More on the Nuggets: Denver Stiffs
16. Chicago Bulls (14-18, Last week: 21)
The Bulls are showing some signs of life after looking like a surefire lottery team in the immediate wake of Derrick Rose's latest knee injury. The offense is still abysmal, but an elite defense is carrying Chicago to wins. A big part of that defense is Joakim Noah, who's finding his groove after a slow start.
More on the Bulls: Blog a Bull
17. Memphis Grizzlies (15-18, Last week: 20)
The Grizzlies have looked better of late as they patiently await the return of Marc Gasol, and they're making a move to improve their shooting by dealing Jerryd Bayless for Courtney Lee. Memphis is last in the league in three-point makes per game, and Lee is knocking down 44.2 percent on the season.
More on the Grizzlies: Grizzly Bear Blues
18. Washington Wizards (14-17, Last week: 14)
The Wizards got back to .500 with a win over the Pistons last Monday. But in typical fashion for this season, the wheels came off after that. Three ugly losses later and Washington is again searching for answers. The rollercoaster ride continues.
More on the Wizards: Bullets Forever
19. Charlotte Bobcats (15-20, Last week: 17)
Before a win over the Kings on Saturday, the Bobcats were looking rather Bobcatty. Five losses in a row with the defense looking like the pitiful defense of years past showing up more often than not.
More on the Bobcats: Rufus On Fire
20. Philadelphia 76ers (12-21, Last week: 29)
Those crazy Sixers. Just a few weeks ago, Philadelphia was looking like the worst team in the league that everybody expected them to be. Now, the Sixers are riding a four-game winning streak that includes a surprise win over the Blazers in Portland. Thaddeus Young has been killing it of late, averaging 26.0 points and 8.4 rebounds over the last five games.
More on the Sixers: Liberty Ballers
21. New York Knicks (11-22, Last week: 27)
J.R. Smith's mind-numbing gaffe against the Rockets aside, the Knicks are actually starting to look like a respectable team. 0-3 on their Texas swing seemed like a sure bet, but instead, they went 2-1 and came close to beating Houston. A big reason for the recent improvement is the play of Iman Shumpert, who scored a career-high 27 points against the Spurs and won the game with a crazy put-back:
More on the Knicks: Posting and Toasting
22. Brooklyn Nets (12-21, Last week: 26)
Like the Knicks, the Nets have actually resembled a decent team the past couple of games. Things hit rock bottom when the team walked off the court early in a blowout loss to the Spurs, but in the next game, Joe Johnson capped off a furious rally against the Thunder with another clutch shot:
More on the Nets: NetsDaily
23. Detroit Pistons (14-20, Last week: 18)
The Pistons are an awful basketball team at the moment, with the latest debacle a 28-point shellacking at home at the hands of Memphis. But despite four losses in a row and generally atrocious play, Detroit is still the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
More on the Pistons: Detroit Bad Boys
24. Boston Celtics (13-21, Last week: 19)
The Celtics trade of Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless helps in several ways. It will save Boston some money this season and also give them some future flexibility because Bayless expires after the year. It also likely makes the Celtics worse this year, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially because the team has already been plummeting down the standings.
More on the Celtics: CelticsBlog
25. Sacramento Kings (10-22, Last week: 22)
The Kings have won a few nice games of late, including a victory over the Rockets early last week. But there has been no sustained success, as that win was followed by two losses in which Sacramento gave up 113 points in each.
More on the Kings: Sactown Royalty
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-23, Last week: 25)
The Cavs are pretty unwatchable without Kyrie Irving, although they have shown some fight with their star guard sidelined. A resolution to the Andrew Bynum situation is coming soon.
More on the Cavs: Fear The Sword
27. Orlando Magic (10-23, Last week: 23)
The Magic pulled off an impressive "tank win" against the Cavs last week by blowing a seven-point lead in the last 13 seconds. The collapse featured the fouling of a three-point shooter, a five-second violation and two missed free throws.
More on the Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post
28. Los Angeles Lakers (14-20, Last week: 24)
The Lakers are pretty much an abomination right now, but on a positive note, Kendall Marshall is doing some nice things at point guard. In the last two games, Marshall has totaled 32 assists.
More on the Lakers: Silver Screen and Roll
29. Utah Jazz (11-25, Last week: 28)
The Jazz picked up two wins in a row last week, although they did follow that up with an ugly loss against the Lakers. Utah is 6-6 in their last 12 games after a 4-19 start.
More on the Jazz: SLC Dunk
30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-26, Last week: 30)
Not only are the Bucks bad, but now teammates are calling each other out. Gary Neal and Larry Sanders got into an argument after a loss to the Suns, with Neal telling Sanders to try earning his money.
More on the Bucks: Brew Hoop