NBA Power Rankings: Blazers, Bucks and Pacers Surge; Nuggets Go Top
Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings explosive start to NBA life has made the Bucks relevant again and in first place in the Central division. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have quietly won six straight and the Boston Celtics dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season to see them tumble from top spot.
What does it all mean? The week three power rankings provide the answer.
- DENVER NUGGETS —While Denver only squeaked by the Bulls and then got caught up in the Brandon Jennings typhoon in Milwaukee, what was most impressive about them this week was how they used defense to stifle the Lakers. Offense is always more fun to watch, but defense is what wins championships.
- LA LAKERS —The Lakers went from a 19-point victory at home to the Suns one night, to a 26-point loss on the road in Denver the next. Had the Lakers beaten the Rockets on Sunday night, they'd be in top spot.
- ATLANTA HAWKS —Jamal Crawford is averaging 17 points off the bench providing the Hawks with the offensive weapon that's been missing over the last couple of seasons. Atlanta has won three straight and begins a three game homestand on Monday night against the Blazers. I love the way Josh Smith is playing right now. Mature, responsible and unselfish.
- PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS —Portland has won six straight, but apart from against the San Antonio Spurs, none of their wins have come against playoff-bound opponents. Defensively, Greg Oden's game looks to be coming together, now if he can just provide some consistency on the offensive end, the Blazers will become even more formidable.
- PHOENIX SUNS —A thumping loss to the Lakers tempered the Suns' hot start, however, Phoenix has a fairly light schedule for the rest of the month which should keep them among the leaders out West.
- CLEVELAND CAVALIERS —The Florida double-header is never easy so that the Cavs went 2-0 in two nights suggests that, after their sluggish start, LeBron has got Cleveland on the right track. The LeBron/D-Wade rivalry continues to live up to the hype.
- MIAMI HEAT —In case you missed it, here it is again http://bit.ly/qEPrY3 . Oh, and then he followed that up with this http://bit.ly/2epWTx . Yes, Dwyane it is your house.
- INDIANA PACERS —Danny Granger predicted a victory over the Celtics on Saturday night and was good to his word. The Pacers have won four straight and like last year, will be difficult to beat at home. Did anyone expect Dahntay Jones to be Indiana's second leading scorer at 16 PPG?
- BOSTON CELTICS —The Celtics stumbled this week and showed a vulnerability against fast-paced teams. An Eastern conference finals rematch at home with the Orlando Magic is a must-watch on Friday night.
- MILWAUKEE BUCKS —By now, everyone knows Brandon Jennings went off for 55 points against the Warriors on Saturday night, but did you know that for the week, the rookie shot 9-for-10 from three point range and 60-percent from the field? He's also leading the team in assists.
- DALLAS MAVERICKS —The Mavericks overcame a 17-point deficit at home to defeat the Rockets but they couldn't overcome a Spurs team on the road that was missing Duncan and Parker. Dallas gets another shot at the back-to-full-strength San Antonio this week.
- DETROIT PISTONS —Will Bynum is a mini-me version of Ben Wallace, but with an offensive game. The Pistons have been treading water without Hamilton and Prince but they face a tough test this week at L.A. (Lakers), Portland and Utah.
- ORLANDO MAGIC —The Magic welcome back Rashard Lewis this week and his arrival couldn't come at a better time. Orlando's offense has been inconsistent and with Lewis back on the floor, it will take some of the heat off Dwight Howard.
- CHICAGO BULLS —The Bulls begin the first of six straight on the road Tuesday at Sacramento. Chicago scored 60 points in the first half against Toronto on Wednesday but managed only 29 in the second half en route to a loss.
- SAN ANTONIO SPURS —San Antonio still hasn't won on the road and dropped their first home game to Oklahoma City on Saturday night. The Spurs leading scorer? Four players are averaging 15 PPG.
- OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER —OKC burned the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday night but then couldn't get it done against the Clippers on Sunday night, despite 40 from Kevin Durant? There is so much to like about the Thunder, but consistency continues to be their biggest obstacle.
- HOUSTON ROCKETS —The Rockets are easily the hardest team to rank. They lose at Sacramento but win at the Lakers. I love Aaron Brooks's aggressiveness which is tempered perfectly by the calmness of Luis Scola.
- SACRAMENTO KINGS —Just what is going on in Sactown? The Kings are 4-0 since Kevin Martin went down. I can't wait to see Tyreke Evans go up against Brandon Jennings in December. How strange does that sound, looking forward to a Bucks versus Kings matchup?
- TORONTO RAPTORS —The Raptors spotted the Clippers a 22-point lead before romping home by 15 points on Friday night. Then on Sunday night, Turkoglu missed a buzzer beater against the Phoenix Suns. If Toronto can be at or over .500 by the time they return home on Friday night to face Miami, it will have been a successful road trip.
- PHILADELPHIA 76ERS —Losing sophomore Marresse Speights for up to eight weeks is a severe blow to the Sixers. Philly's main problem, though, remains on the defensive end where they have already allowed more than 110 points four times this season. Elton Brand is averaging less than 10 points per game.
- UTAH JAZZ —The Jazz will be happy enough with a split in the two games that they didn't have Deron Williams, who's been dealing with a medical issue with his daughter. Hopefully, she is well and D-Will is back on the court soon.
- MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES —If there's one player I wouldn't sign to replace Allen Iverson, it would be Jamaal Tinsley. The Pacers gave him $14 million to go away, that's got to say something about his character. Must be good enough for Grizzlies owner Michael Hiesley though.
- GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS —The dub's squeaked out two wins this week. One was against the Timberwolves and the other against the Knicks. It just goes to show the states of Minnesota and New York that even Golden State, with all their chaos and mess can still keep it together enough to beat them.
- LA CLIPPERS —Just as the Clippers looked to be getting it together again, they fell apart. To make matters worse, the Clips opened with a home heavy schedule but could only manage two wins from seven games. Sunday night's win over Oklahoma might have been the Clips' best performance of the season.
- NEW ORLEANS HORNETS —Chris Paul deserves so much more than what he's getting from Hornets owner George Shinn. Byron Scott was unlucky to get the boot and the best New Orleans can hope for from this season now is a high lottery pick.
- CHARLOTTE BOBCATS —The Bobcats are last in points scored and field goal percentage. They have scored less than 82 points in six of their nine games. It makes you wonder how they've acutally been able to win one, let alone three games.
- WASHINGTON WIZARDS —Let me get this straight. Earl Boykins hadn't played in the NBA since April 2008, and he comes off the bench to lead the Wizards in scoring in his first game back. It still wasn't enough to stop Washington from losing their sixth straight.
- MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES —It's hard to believe that the T'Wolves were unbeaten at one point this season. Sure it was 1-0 and their lone victory was over the Nets but the way they have played since makes you wonder how they ever did it.
- NEW JERSEY NETS —The Nets remain ahead of the Knicks because they've at least shown the ability to compete, as was proven against Miami on Saturday night, but when you're down, you're down.
- NEW YORK KNICKS —Mike D'Antoni will probably survive the season, but he needs to get this team to show some passion and fight. Anything better than what the Knicks have offered so far will be an improvement.
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