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NBA Power Rankings: Western Conference dominates top spots

Dec 31, 2012, 1:51 PM EST

Clippers' Griffin, Jordan, Crawford, and Paul, celebrate a three pointer by teammate Green during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Celtics in Los Angeles Reuters

We enter 2013 off a week where the two best teams in the East — Miami and New York — looked sloppy while the teams at the top of the Western Conference looked strong and took over the top spots in the weekly rankings.

source:  1. Clippers (25-6, Last week ranked No. 1). The win streak is at 17 in a row and if you’re asking me when it will end my guess is Wednesday, the second night of a back-to-back when the Clippers have to face a good Golden State team. They have the Warriors twice plus the Lakers on deck.

 

source:  2. Thunder (23-6, LW 2). The Christmas Day loss to Miami shows the Thunder where they need to get, but don’t read too much into a December game. Soft part of the schedule ahead with five straight very winnable games coming up for OKC.

 

source:  3. Spurs (24-8, LW 5). I don’t think people realize just how well Tiago Splitter is playing right now, he seems to have figured out how to play next to Tim Duncan. So Gregg Popovich is trusting him. He’s very efficient, with a PER of 20.2.

 

source:  4. Heat (20-8, LW 3). Sloppy lost weekend where they fell to Detroit (after leading by 17) and the Bucks. We’re going to see that this year from the defending champions, stretches where they take a mental vacation. It doesn’t mean much big picture.

 

source:  5. Warriors (21-10, LW 7). They are 11-2 against the Eastern Conference with wins over Miami and Atlanta, but both the losses are to Orlando. Golden State is in rest mode with two games in nine days, but both against the streaking Clippers.

 

source:  6. Knicks (21-9, LW 4). The next month is going to be a real test for New York — no Raymond Felton at the point and they soon will try to integrate Amare Stoudemire back into the rotation. They can come out of this stronger, but the best tests are not easy.

 

source:  7. Hawks (19-9, LW 8). Winners of four in a row, including quality wins over the Bulls and Pacers in that stretch. Their offense is going well with Lou Williams starting, taking over the Joe Johnson role. (Think Hawks fans are enjoying watching the Nets fall apart?)

 

source:  8. Grizzlies (19-8, LW 6). They are struggling of late because their offense is a mess — 29th in the NBA in the last 10 games (ranked in points by possession at NBA.com). Their defense is still strong but in their win over Denver Saturday they scored just 82 points.

 

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9. Bulls (16-12, LW 9). Derrick Rose is back practicing with the team but not doing anything involving contact. Target for his return is still after the All-Star break. Who the Bulls did get back is Richard Hamilton and Rip is good for their defense.

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10. Nuggets (17-15, LW 10). Want to place a bet on the team with the best record in January? Bet Denver, which after a lot of road games to start the season is home for 15 of their next 18.

 

source:  11. Pacers (17-13, LW 11). Third worst offense in the NBA, second best defense. That is enough to win more games than you lose, but they need Danny Granger back and Roy Hibbert to come out of his funk.

 

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12. Bucks (16-13, LW 12). Picked up a quality win over the Heat but then turned around a lost to the Pistons and Cavaliers. Another good defense, weak offense team but the Bucks are just more up and down than the Pacers.

 

source:  13. Lakers (15-15, LW 16). Winners of six of their last seven, and the only loss in there was the second night of a back-to-back in Denver. Still, Dwight Howard’s play looks a step slow. Give Pau Gasol credit for trying to do what Mike D’Antoni wants and being more of a stretch four.

 

source:  14. Rockets (16-14, LW 17). They lost a couple in a row at the end of the week but still look like a team starting to figure out who they are and how they can win games with this roster. James Harden should be an All-Star. Not so much with Jeremy Lin (although he has played better of late).

 

source:  15. Nets (16-14, LW 13). The Nets are 2-0 under P.J. Carlesimo, although that really has a lot more to playing the Bobcats and Cavaliers than it does the coaching. Carlisimo wants the job and knows winning a lot of games is the only chance he has.

 

source:  16. Timberwolves (14-13, LW 14). They have won six of their last 10 and I keep waiting for them to go on a little tear, but with six of their next eight on the road and no gimmies in the lot (don’t sell the Hornets at home short) I may be waiting a little longer. They have not found their groove.

 

source:  17. Trail Blazers (15-14, LW 19). The Damian Lillard show is about to go out on the road the next week with stops in New York, Memphis and Minnesota — all tough wins. But if the Blazers are serious about the playoffs those are the kinds of wins they need to be picked up.

 

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18. Jazz (15-17, LW 17). The home and home against the Clippers emphasized the home-road difference with this team — they could have won that at home with a couple breaks or a couple calls, but they couldn’t stay that close on the road. They are 9-4 in Salt Lake City, 6-13 outside it.

 

source:  19. Celtics (14-16, LW 15). Doc Rivers made an interesting point — previous Celtics teams played good defense all the time and didn’t let a stretch of bad offense hurt the other end of the floor. This team falls apart on defense when it has a bad offensive stretch.

 

source:  20. 76ers (13-15, LW 20). They are 1-3 on their road trip with a nice win in Memphis but little else to show. This week it gets tougher with the Lakers, Thunder and Spurs all on the road.

 

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21. Raptors (11-20, LW 23). They are 7-3 in their last 10 games because they have exploded on offense — 5.4 points per 100 possessions better than their season average the last 10 games and 8.8 better over their last five. DeMar DeRozan has put up points but it’s been the bench with guys like Alan Anderson and lately Kyle Lowry that have been key.

 

source:  22. Pistons (11-22, LW 25). Nice wins last week over the Heat and Bucks have them climbing up the rankings. You can credit Will Bynum with the Heat win as he was huge, but it was more of a team effort over the Bucks.

 

source:  23. Magic (12-18, LW 21). They have lost five in a row since Glen Davis went down with a shoulder injury. That’s no coincidence, they miss what Big Baby did on both ends, but particularly on the defensive side.

 

source:  24. Kings (11-19, LW 26). The owner Maloof brothers overruled their own front office and put DeMarcus Cousins back on the active roster. If you think those same owners will roll over and sign off to trade Cousins you will be sorely disappointed.

 

source:  25. Mavericks (12-19, LW 24). Getting Dirk Nowitzki back was not the answer, they have lost five in a row. Coach Rick Carlisle is so frustrated he’s threatening to suspend players, but it’s not like he’s got a deep roster of good replacements.

 

source:  26. Suns (11-20, LW 22). They are the losers of five in a row and the reason is they play no defense. They might outscore you now and again if someone gets hot, but they can’t stop anyone. They have the Thunder, Jazz and Grizzlies on the schedule this week.

 

source:  27. Hornets (7-23, LW 28). They looked so much better, so much more creative when Eric Gordon got back on the floor — through all the injuries and free agency fanfare people forgot this guy can flat out play. He and Anthony Davis will form a very good pick-and-roll duo by next season.

 

source:  28. Cavaliers (7-25, LW 27). They have certainly looked a lot better since Kyrie Irving’s return, but certainly not like a playoff team. Look for them to be sellers at the trade deadline with Anderson Varejao and C.J. Miles.

 

source:  29. Wizards (4-24, LW 29). The Wizards have turned to Shelvin Mack at the point… what more can I say.

 

source:  30. Bobcats (7-23, LW 30). The losing streak is up to 18 games with no clear end in sight. In case you’re curious I looked it up and the NBA’s longest losing streak ever is 26 (Cavaliers just two years ago, how could you forget?).

  1. bozosforall - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Odd that we no longer see any Puh C’s or Tragic fans ripping on the Lakers now that noth teams have worse records. Two of the biggest bandwagon fantasies in sports.

    • raidmagic - Dec 31, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      Haha I see what you did there….Tragic…you are so creative…

      • bozosforall - Dec 31, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        No less than any of you idiots that post here. Come back when your team can win even ONE ring.

    • bigmeechy74 - Dec 31, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      You seem pretty cool and a fun person to talk to

      • bozosforall - Jan 1, 2013 at 8:39 PM

        Better than most.

    • cullenand99 - Dec 31, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      Again, do you ever shut up?

      • bozosforall - Jan 1, 2013 at 8:39 PM

        Why should I?

  2. stoudemelo - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Kurt you make PBT a joke.

    Heat at 4 after two blow outs but Knicks lose at the buzzer and drop to six because they MIGHT have troubles fitting Amare in?

    I’ve enjoyed most of the articles on this website for years but your not so suddle shots at the Knicks and constant Lebron praising or finding any way to drop his name in an article has made most of your stuff unreadable. Most the time I read the headlines click and then see who wrote it. If it has your name I just back click. You have zero integrity in your writing but an agenda and its absolutely unreadable.

    • biasedhomer - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      His rankings are more dependent on who is on which team, more than how well a certain team has played in the past week and so far through the season.

      For example, early in the year, he would drop the Sixers by 5 ranks just because there was an Andrew Bynum set back, even though the team had a good week.

    • bigmeechy74 - Dec 31, 2012 at 9:56 PM

      Paranoid Fans of teams that accuse writers of not liking their team are literally the most ridiculous people on earth. Amazing! The baseball writer Keith Law always tweets about this. People say “Why do you hate ‘insert team here’ so much?” and everyone has a good laugh. I’m embarrassed for you. LOL!!! Haha like he got this job just to carry out his mission to subtly insult your favorite team. That’s so silly! Even more… Why would you possibly care? It’s not like he is insulting your family. hahahah

  3. wwttww - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Hawks are the biggest surprise to me. Unselfish Ball movement and true team efforts out there. Wonder what Ferry does with all that cap room? Big decision on Josh Smith as well.

  4. rodge1 - Dec 31, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    The West dominated power-rankings last year too.

  5. jerdogthompson - Dec 31, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Hay yo Bozo, like I’ve said since preseason the Lakers are not a good team and will be extremely lucky to reach an 8 seed (win out 65% of remaining games). Not to mention, what happened YESTERDAY doesn’t matter let alone the Lakers titles amassed in 1950′s in Minnesota. Bet you can’t even tell me (without googling) what the term Lakers even means. Lakers are slowly drifting into obscurity and understandably it hurts. Just don’t come spewing your nonsense here…………

  6. lavoysboy - Dec 31, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Vucevic had 29 rebounds tonight… As a sixers fan it is killing me to see how well he is doing when we really need that dominant big guy down low… Come on Bynum!

  7. omniusprime - Jan 1, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Of course the Western Conference is better than the Eastern Creampuff Conference, that’s just how it’s worked for decades.

    Go Lakers!!!

  8. canadatude - Jan 1, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    The Celtics need to blow it up and start over. Too long in the tooth.

  9. baymac408 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    WARRIORS!! Wake up world!!

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