Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NBA Power Rankings: Mavs Ride Into Town, but Hawks Go Top

The sexy thing to do this season is to lose your superstar and then go on a winning run.

Milwaukee did it when Michael Redd went down, and so did Sacramento after Kevin Martin fractured his wrist. This week New Orleans without Chris Paul were too good for the red hot Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks.

Strange? Doesn't make sense? Luckily The Daily Hurt's weekly power rankings are here to break it all down.

  1. ATLANTA HAWKS - Despite coming off a loss to New Orleans on Saturday night, Atlanta takes top spot in a week which otherwise saw them sweep Portland, Miami and Houston. For the first time in a long time, the Hawks look for real.
  2. DALLAS MAVERICKS - Considering the Mavs have won five straight and have been missing Josh Howard, Shawn Marion and Erick Dampier for parts of the run, they probably should be ranked No. 1. However, Atlanta has been more impressive overall.
  3. ORLANDO MAGIC - Dwight Howard took only four shots in Friday nights victory over the Celtics. The Magic have won five straight and are starting to assert themselves in the East.
  4. LA LAKERS - All that TV work clearly distracted Pau Gasol from his day job with the Lakers. He looked very rusty in his debut, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds on 60-percent shooting as LA strolled past the Bulls. The Lakers three opponents this week are a combined 7-and-31.
  5. PHOENIX SUNS - The Suns weren't the only team to get surprised by the Hornets this week. It was a minor blip and Phoenix made the Pistons pay for it on Sunday night. Phoenix has a light week at home to Memphis before a trip to Minnesota and Toronto which should keep them on top of the West.
  6. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - LeBron won't answer questions about 2010. Fine. But will he answer this? Are the Cavs a better team without Shaq? Cleveland is 4-1 sans O'Neal.
  7. MILWAUKEE BUCKS - OK Bucks, you wanna play with the big boys? A three game road trip starting in San Antonio before coming home to face the Magic on Saturday will test Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings has coped incredibly well so far, but how long can he go before Mr. Rookie Wall pays him a visit?
  8. DENVER NUGGETS - The Nuggets dropped the ball against the Clippers on Friday night but rebounded with a solid win over the Bulls on Saturday. Denver remains undefeated at home, where they play five of their next six and against only one opponent (Miami) with a record over .500.
  9. BOSTON CELTICS - Since Doc Rivers asked Rasheed Wallace to limit his three-pointers, 'Sheed has gone 0-for-11. Not that they've all been bad looks, but Wallace hasn't given the Celtics the offensive punch off the bench they were hoping to get from him.
  10. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS - I'm not sure what to make of the Blazers. They are 10-5 but were easily beaten by the Warriors in Oakland. They've been very good at times, but less convincing at others.
  11. HOUSTON ROCKETS - The Rockets have alternated wins and losses over the last 11 games, which seems about right. Whether or not the alleged argument between Tracy McGrady and Rick Adelman ever occured, it's hard to see how T-Mac fits into the current lineup.
  12. MIAMI HEAT - It's not quite panic button time in Miami just yet. That will come if the Heat announce that they've signed Allen Iverson. Sunday's win at home against New Orleans was just the Heat's second in the last five games and both were by one point.
  13. UTAH JAZZ - Three wins on the bounce have the Jazz over .500, and with their next five games at home, Utah's slow start to the season should be a distant memory soon. Deron Williams shouldn't need a campaign to get himself voted into the All-Star game, but apparently he does , and I'm going to try to help him out.
  14. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - There might not be a better time to take advantage of the Spurs. Tony Parker is clearly not 100-percent, nor is Manu Ginobili and San Antonio hasn't had a record under .500 (5-6) this far into a season since Tim Duncan's rookie year.
  15. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS - Is Marcus Thornton the Rookie of the Year? Probably not, but he's averaging 18 PPG over his last seven—not bad for a second-rounder. Since CP3 went down, Thornton has been the spark that's seen the Hornets sting the Suns and the Hawks and come within a Udonis Haslem bucket of defeating the Heat.
  16. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - It's not the first time that a team has gotten better after Allen Iverson left it. The Grizz had won three straight before falling to the Bucks on Saturday night. O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay still need to work better with each other, but the signs are there that Memphis is better than its 4-9 record.
  17. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - OKC get mostly recognized for the firepower on offense, but the Thunder is playing some pretty good D too. Maybe it's just me, but I can't wait to watch Oklahoma versus Milwaukee on Friday night. I didn't imagine I'd have said that at the start of the season.
  18. TORONTO RAPTORS - With career highs in points, field-goal percentage and rebounds, Chris Bosh is holding up his end of the bargain in Toronto. Unfortunately, the 6-8 Raptors aren't doing the same.
  19. INDIANA PACERS - Let me get this straight. The Pacers had no problems defeating the Celtics, but they couldn't get it done against the Knicks or Bobcats. Yep, it sure must be fun being an Indiana fan.
  20. CHICAGO BULLS - By the time November ends, the Bulls will have played 10 of their 15 games on the road. For that reason, I'll reserve making any major assessment of this team until there schedule has evened out a little bit, but I suspect they are better than what we've seen so far.
  21. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - The Sixers pushed the Cavs for three periods on Saturday but then went 4-for-23 in the fourth, ending their challenge. Philly has no shortage of offensive weapons in Iguodala, Williams, Young, and Brand, but no one's really sure of who gets the big money shots. With four of their next five on the road, the 5-8 Sixers are in tough to stay around the .500 mark.
  22. DETROIT PISTONS - Defense isn't the problem in Detroit, it's lack of firepower. That will change when they get Prince and Hamilton back, but nobody seems to know exactly when that will be.
  23. LA CLIPPERS - Friday nights' victory over the Nuggets showed what the Clips are capable of when they get it together, especially considering they trailed by 14 points in the first quarter. While Blake Griffin is still at least a few weeks away, the Clippers should get Eric Gordon back this week.
  24. NEW YORK KNICKS - Just the thought of Allen Iverson joining the Knicks must have been enough to spark the team into action. If Nate Robinson wonders why anyone thinks he has an attitude problem, here's the reason: http://bit.ly/088W3iN
  25. SACRAMENTO KINGS - The good news for the Kings is that Tyreke Evans is day-to-day. The bad news is that the Kings have lost three straight and the post-Kevin Martin injury run is well and truly over.
  26. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - The Stephen Jackson soap opera finally concluded this week (thankfully). The question is who will be next to go—Monta Ellis or Don Nelson? Ellis says he wants to stay but this is Golden State. Expect chaos to resume anytime now.
  27. WASHINGTON WIZARDS - The week started off so well. Antawn Jamison returned and the Wiz hammered the the Cavs by 17. It ended with losses to Oklahoma City and San Antonio totalling 41 points. Huh?
  28. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - When Stephen Jackson said he wanted to go to a contender, did he mean a contender for the first pick in the 2010 draft? This can't possibly be the same team that blew out Atlanta by 20 earlier this month.
  29. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - The Timberwolves get Al Jefferson back and lose both games by a combined 41 points. It's hard to see where or when win number two will come.
  30. NEW JERSEY NETS - Couldn't beat the Knicks and haven't been able to beat anyone else yet either. Whatever happens, Lawrence Frank should definitely be a contestant on Survivor next season; he'll romp in.
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