NBA Power Rankings: Orlando Jumps While Portland Falls

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NBA Power Rankings: Orlando Jumps While Portland Falls
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1. Orlando

Vince Carter has struggled the past two games, going for a combined 19-53, though he did hit a game winner against Boston. But Van Gundy doesn't need to worry, his defense has finally started to improve holding teams to just 91.2 points in the last five games. 

2. Atlanta

Seven straight wins? No problem, the high flying Hawks have been hard to keep up with. Though after losing to New Orleans and Mike Bibby going down with an ankle injury some concern could be on their minds. They play the Magic next after all. 

3. Boston

After a hot start, the Celtics now seem to look like another team of average joes. Their main concern? Seeing Kevin Garnett limp up and down the court the past few games, and almost getting burned by the Knicks. 

4. Phoenix

Steve Nash has the Suns offense rolling, but the defense is starting to fall. Unless they find some way to fill the cracks in the lane, the top of the Western Conference will be up for grabs. 

5. LA Lakers

Kobe Bryant did it all for the first few weeks, but now, his running mate Pau Gasol returns from injury, and they look like the defending champs again. After trouncing the Thunder and Bulls. Maybe the Ron Artest experiment is actually working. 

6. Dallas

Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki have carried the Mavs, with some help from Jason Terry and rookie Rob Beaubois. Looks as if the Mavs might find a way to compete this season. 

7. Cleveland

After struggling to start the season, Shaq and LeBron have finally started to mesh...offensively anyway. Their defense still lacks something however, first a 30-12 run by the Wizards, then a 22-3 run by the Pacers, and finally a 23-9 run by the Sixers. 

8. Denver

They Nuggets have shown flashes of their brilliance, but they lost to the Clippers not to long ago. Maybe they'll finally find some consistency after going on what could be the easiest road trip in NBA history. Two against the Wolves then the Nets, Knicks, and Warriors. 

9. Portland

Andre Miller was brought in to lead the Blazers high octane offense. Though they are 7-2 when Miller starts, he has been moved to the bench, and will probably remain their after their most efficient offensive win of the season, even if it was against the Wolves. 

10. Milwaukee

Who would have thought that without stars Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut the Bucks would still be winning? They have rookie Brandon Jennings to thank for that, whose playing like a young Allen Iverson, except no attitude. 

11. Miami

Jermaine O'Neal has looked solid so far this season, and has played up to his word, but how long will that continue? Dwayne Wade needs all the help he can get, so his only hope of making a playoff run will be if O'Neal stays both healthy and consistent. 

12. Houston

No Yao Ming or Tracy McGrady? No problem! Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza have brought toughness to this battered squad. How long will they stay above .500 though? Plus what happens if McGrady returns and the chemistry is disrupted? Way to many questions for the Rockets to think about. 

13. Oklahoma City

The Thunder have been led by Kevin Durant (no surprise) but the real surprise has been the play of the defense. Though they were thrashed by both the Magic and Lakers, they managed to key wins against San Antonio and Miami.

14. Utah

They finally managed to beat Spurs after losing twenty straight games in San Antonio. They've finally begun to show improvement on both sides of the court, maybe they'll pull it all together and forget the continuing distraction that is Carlos Boozer. 

15. San Antonio

Richard Jefferson was supposed to be the answer for the Spurs bringing them their first truly athletic small forward in years. Besides, the Spurs big three have already missed eight games, maybe keeping them healthy would benefit Jefferson some, just maybe. 

16. Chicago

Derrick Rose has struggled this season, maybe he's suffering from the infamous sophomore slump? Though part of it was his ankle injury, which looks like it might be behind him after scoring a combined 48 points in the past two games. But he really needs John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich to get their act together and start hitting shots. 

17. Toronto

They offense in Toronto has gotten the job done, including the excellent play from Chris Bosh who is definitely putting his name in the MVP thoughts. But their defense has yet to improve, after allowing Orlando to go to the line 35 times. 

18. Indiana

Danny Granger is really the only big name for the Pacers, but he's struggled. Though just looking at the roster, their doesn't look to be much help for him. After blowing leads over both New York and Charlotte, now the Pacers defense is being questioned. 

19. New Orleans

No more Byron Scott and no Chris Paul who fell with a sprained ankle. But it may have been a blessing in a very ugly disguise, his fell seemed to wake up the young backcourt of Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton. Maybe Paul will have a better team when he returns. 

20. Detroit

Good news for the Pistons is both Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince have started practice again. Bad news, they're losers of five straight and have struggled on both sides of the ball. 

21. Sacramento

Should the Kings get their offense rolling again, they are very capable of winning their next five games. Though they've shown to be a very competitive while losing to both Dallas and Houston, but lack any consistent defense. 

22. Philadelphia

The Sixers are finally getting some production out of Elton Brand, but ironically, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young have struggled. Plus, after a few defense games they where showing signs of promise, they allowed Memphis to shoot 52 percent from the field. 

23. Memphis

The Allen Iverson experiment is over in the Music City. They've won three out of their last four since the Iverson fiasco ended and have started to play solid defense. Now they just have to learn to finish games. 

24. LA Clippers

The second LA team have yet to discover an identity. Playing without Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin probably doesn't help the matter either. They lose to New Orleans and Memphis, but they thrash the Nuggets after a 19-0 run in the first half, what does Baron Davis have to do to bring some consistency to the locker room. 

25. Golden State

Monte Ellis has officially played on of the best games in his life. He not only shut down All-Star Brandon Roy, but he scored 38 points and collected eight assists, six steals, and two blocks. Maybe this will give the Warriors a spark after trading off Stephen Jackson.

26. Charlotte

They've broken 100-plus just twice this season, maybe the Jackson trade payed off. Finally they have a go to scorer that Larry Brown might have faith in. The Raptors are next, maybe they can pull off two straight 100-plus point games. 

27. Washington

Antawn Jamison returned to lead the Wizards over the Cavs on Wednesday. However, changes seem inevitable after following their best defensive game with their worst. A damaged and splintered locker room can not bode well with Flip Saunders. 

28. New York

After coming back from 19 down to beat Indiana, they managed to survive against New Jersey and take Boston into overtime. However, they have what could be considered an impossible road trip coming up, which could kill whats left of the Knicks life. 

29. Minnesota

Damien Wilkins should get some kind of medal for his antics against New Jersey at the beginning of the season. Other wise they would probably off to the worst start in NBA history. Wilkins has only made eight of 28 since. 

30. New Jersey

0-13 is really all you have to say about the Nets. Once the best assist team in the league, they've fallen to the bottom ranking 29th. Devin Harris' return should help their lack of offense, but predicting any time table for their first win is incredibly difficult. 

 

The Bleacher Report NBA Power Rankings are done by averaging individual feature columnist's tallies. Weekly contributors are: Denton Ramsey (Houston Rockets), Keith Schlosser (NY Knicks), Curtis Finchum (Oklahoma City), Brandon Ribak (Orlando Magic), Hotnuke (Miami Heat), Bryan Toporek (Philadelphia 76ers), Andrew Ungvari (LA Lakers), Shaun Ahmad (Washington Wizards) and DeMarco Williams (NBA Lead). 

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