Dec 31, 2012, 1:51 PM EST
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?).
Dec 21, 2013, 11:00 PM EST
Danny Granger returned to action for the Pacers on Friday, playing 22 minutes off the bench in his team’s blowout win over the Rockets. Exactly how much Granger can contribute to Indiana’s efforts at title contention this season remains to be seen, but whether he produces near his previous levels or he doesn’t, his situation…
Dec 21, 2013, 9:30 PM EST
The Knicks didn’t score a whole lot in Saturday’s home loss to the Grizzlies, but when they did, there were some highlights. This one features seldom-used Toure Murry getting out on the break and delivering a perfect behind-the-back pass to Tim Hardaway Jr. for the breakaway slam.
Joakim Noah admits he shouldn’t have been in Thunder’s locker room following incident with Kendrick Perkins
Dec 21, 2013, 8:00 PM EST
In today’s NBA, team loyalties aren’t what they once were. Many of the players have friendships off the court that cross team lines, and the only time we ever see anything close to animosity from most are over those 48 minutes when they’re competing on the court. But locker rooms remain sacred places, reserved for…
Dec 21, 2013, 6:57 PM EST
Jeffery Taylor had started the last 8 games for the Bobcats, since Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down, and while he has struggled in that role (he has shot 35.4 percent as a starter) you can see how the sophomore could grow into solid rotation player for Charlotte. However, they have lost Taylor for the year due…
Dec 21, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
NEW YORK – The Knicks suffered their 10th home loss of the season on Saturday, playing against an injury-ravaged Grizzlies team that came in losing five straight and seven of its last eight games. The noon start time wasn’t as big of a problem as it had been in New York’s previous two early starts,…
Dec 21, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
Miami Heat players have been videobombing each other’s postgame interviews after victories since at least last season, and it seems as though doing things like making funny faces or doing a robot dance has now become passé. Dwyane Wade upped the ante recently by cartwheeling his way through a LeBron James interview, and now the two…
Dec 21, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
Wesley Matthews is having a career year — he is scoring a career high 16.2 points a game, he is shooting 44.2 percent from three (39.8 percent last season had been a career high) and he is shooting a lot better inside the arc as well, with a true shooting percentage of 64.5 percent (career…
Dec 21, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
Richard Jefferson is in his 13th NBA season, and for the first time in his career will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. After earning over $100 million in salary, you can understand why money will be the least of his concerns when signing what may be his final contract. Jefferson was open in…
Dec 21, 2013, 11:08 AM EST
Nets center Brook Lopez is out for the season after suffering a broken foot, news that was first broken by CSNNE.com’s Gary Tanguay and has since been confirmed by many others. NBA source tells me Brook Lopez of the Nets is done for the year. Broken foot. East continues to get worse. #celticstalk — Gary…
Dec 21, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
The Celtics have been better than most expected through the first 27 games of the season, and thanks to playing in the dreadful Atlantic Division, their 12-15 record has them sitting at the four seed in the Eastern Conference standings. That isn’t likely to last all year long, however, and being three games under .500…
Dec 21, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Pacers have been one of the top teams to this point in the season, but two of their five losses had come in their last two games. They made sure to leave no doubt in getting back on track Friday, beating an undermanned Rockets team that was without Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik by…
Dec 21, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
The Miami Heat have plenty of alternate jerseys, but haven’t been one of the teams to embrace the new sleeved models just yet. Every team playing on Christmas Day will be giving the new-look tops a try, however, and that includes the Heat. But LeBron James said that the team’s shooters are worried about how…
Dec 21, 2013, 12:17 AM EST
The Knicks have gotten killed in their home games this season that have begun with an early 12 noon tip-off, and head coach Mike Woodson is willing to try anything to avoid yet another embarrassing performance and disastrous result. New York hosts the Memphis Grizzlies at 12 noon at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, but…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:51 PM EST
When the Nets played the Sixers just four days ago in Brooklyn, they won by 36 points and honestly, the game wasn’t even that close. Things were different Friday night in Philadelphia, however, and it had everything to do with the available personnel. Kevin Garnett took this game off as a day of rest, and…
Dec 20, 2013, 9:36 PM EST
One of the first lessons a rookie can learn in the NBA is which players not to try to take a charge against. LeBron James has to be near the top of that list, but Kings rookie Ben McLemore gave it a shot anyway on Friday night in Miami. He chose … poorly. LeBron elevated…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:29 PM EST
This is the first ball I've seen with a Commissioner Adam Silver signature on it. http://t.co/eSlS3cMJ9P— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 19, 2013 The times, they are a changin’. Adam Silver will replace David Stern as NBA Commissioner on Feb. 1, and among the differences (there will not be that many, really) is that the NBA…
Dec 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
Dion Waiters — the Cavaliers second-leading scorer and a guy on the trade block according to reports — will be out Friday night against the Bucks and maybe longer due to a sore wrist. He has wrist tendonitis that had bothered him for a while but he had played through it — he had 25…
Dec 20, 2013, 6:29 PM EST
We had Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk on the PBT Podcast recently and when the topic of Jabari Parker came up Dauster mentioned Carmelo Anthony — a polished scorer with the ability to play the four, score inside, or stretch the floor out to the arc. Dauster isn’t the only one to say that, it’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
Yesterday we passed along the report that before Philadelphia had starting shopping Thaddeus Young around he had gone to the team and asked for a trade. He didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process. If you’ve watched how this game was played with others guys trying to get moved then you knew what…
Dec 20, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
The last time we saw French center Alexis Ajinca in an NBA game it was 2011 with the Raptors. He had been a bit player with Dallas and Charlotte before that. Now he’s back getting another shot with the New Orleans Pelicans, reports the Times Picayune. The New Orleans Pelicans have reached a two-year contract…
- Bobcats lose Jeffery Taylor for season with ruptured Achilles 0
- Carmelo Anthony after latest home loss to Grizzlies: ‘I think it’s in our heads’ 13
- Brook Lopez suffers broken foot, out for the season 27
- Duke’s Jabari Parker doesn’t back away from Carmelo Anthony comparison 12
- Michael Carter-Williams returns to Sixers lineup Friday against Nets 6
- Kobe Bryant is out six weeks with fracture in the left knee (71)
- LeBron did foul Paul George on final shot but there was no call (VIDEO) (60)
- Chicago columnist hammers Derrick Rose as no longer humble star (56)
- LeBron angrily goes after Mario Chalmers on the Heat bench (VIDEO) (50)
- Reports: Houston Rockets pull out of Asik trade talks, will keep him for now (45)