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NBA Power Rankings (Nov. 30): Lakers Back to The Top

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NBA Power Rankings (Nov. 30): Lakers Back to The Top
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

How rare is this picture of Kobe Bryant donning Laker purple?

Quite.

Just four of the defending champs' first 21 games this season come on the road. 

With an NFL -like record of 13-3, L.A. had better hope that their injury woes are behind them, because they'll be facing tons of road games during the second half of the season.

That being said, the return of Pau Gasol has turned the Lakers into a powerhouse again, and they've risen back to the top spot.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (13-3, Last Week: 5)

The Lakers' six-game win streak hasn't come against great competition: Detroit, Chicago, Oklahoma City, New York, Golden State, and New Jersey.

It's about to get tougher, however, with their next four coming against New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, and Utah (all at home, of course).

2. Orlando Magic (14-4, Last Week: 2)

Dwight Howard and company made a huge statement Thanksgiving night by going into Atlanta and crushing the Hawks 93-76.

Superman lived up to his nickname, posting 22 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks.

 

3. Phoenix Suns (14-3, Last Week: 3)

Who would've thought that the NBA's best record would belong to the Phoenix Suns after one month of the season?

Jason Richardson has been the guy the Suns thought they were getting when they traded for him last season, averaging 18 points per game on ridiculous 46 percent shooting from three-point range.

4. Boston Celtics (13-4, Last Week: 7)
The Celts have reeled off a nice little four-game winning streak since their tough loss to Orlando.
On another note, is Rajon Rondo ever going to learn to shoot free throws?
Rondo is a horrid 10-26 (38 percent) from the stripe this season.
Can you really afford to have your franchise point guard on the bench in crunch time because he can't shoot free throws?
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-5, Last Week: 6)
The Cavs, who beat Dallas Saturday night, get a nice little rest before their next game Wednesday night.
They'll face the Suns, in a game not being broadcast on national TV.
Shouldn't they be able to flex games like this into the television schedule?
6. Atlanta Hawks (12-5, Last Week: 1)
The soarin' Hawks have come back down to earth a bit with losses in three of their last four games.
Josh Smith's numbers are still stellar, and he's going for 16 points, nine rebounds, 1.6 steals, and three blocks per game.
7. Dallas Mavericks (12-5, Last Week: 4)
It's amazing how well the Mavs have fared so far with all the injuries they've had to deal with.
Erick Dampier's absence due to a mysterious illness is a shame, since he'd been off to a great start before going down, going for eight points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks a night.
8. Denver Nuggets (12-5, Last Week: 8)
Carmelo Anthony was completely unstoppable in scoring 50 points against the Knicks, shooting 17-28 from the floor and 15-16 from the stripe.
Quite the head-scratcher last night for Denver, however, losing to horrible Minnesota on their own court.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (12-7, Last Week: 10)
The Blazers are the only team currently in the Western Conference playoff picture that doesn't score 100 points per game.
However, that isn't a problem when you allow just 90 per game, tops in the West.
10. San Antonio Spurs (9-6, Last Week: 16)
The Spurs appear to be back on track after winning five in a row.
They'll be tested in upcoming games with Boston, Denver, and Utah.
11. Utah Jazz (9-7, Last Week: 13)
Carlos Boozer is helping his free agent stock in a major way.
He's averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, and is shooting 55 percent from the field.
12. Miami Heat (9-7, Last Week: 12)
December is a huge month for the Heat.
Miami will face all but one of the teams currently in the playoff picture in the West, starting Tuesday night in Portland.
13. Houston Rockets (9-8, Last Week: 11)
Those scrappy Rockets have taken down a couple of Goliaths so far, but in order to stay in the race, they're going to have to beat the teams that they should.
The back-to-back games at the Clippers and Warriors this week are the kinds of games the Rockets have to have.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (8-7, Last Week: 9)
After two years away from the NBA, Ersan Ilyasova has become quite the player for the Bucks.
This year, he's averaging 12 points and eight rebounds a game while playing fantastic defense.
However, the Bucks have lost four straight after starting off so well.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (9-8, Last Week: 15)
OKC lost 100-91 at home to Houston Sunday night.
The loss marks the franchise's 12th consecutive loss to Houston, dating back to their Seattle days (remember those?).
16. Sacramento Kings (8-8, Last Week: 18)
Remember when the Kings were projected to be the NBA's worst team?
They've now won three in a row (in convincing fashion) over New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans.
17. Charlotte Bobcats (7-9, Last Week: 24)
Despite their unimpressive record, the Bobcats are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
They've quietly won four in a row, including a surprising win over the Cavaliers last Friday.
18. Indiana Pacers (6-8, Last Week: 17)
Danny Granger has been struggling lately, shooting just 28-78 in his last four games.
He missed one game with a knee injury (a win over the Clippers), which happens to be the only game Indiana has won in their past six.
19. Los Angeles Clippers (8-10, Last Week: 23)
Since returning from a groin injury, Eric Gordon has struggled from distance, shooting just 1-11 from three over his past three games.
However, the Clippers have won four of five, and don't play another road game until December 16th. 
20. Chicago Bulls (6-8, Last Week: 14)
The Bulls are reeling, having lost all four of their games so far on their annual circus road trip. 
The trip (thankfully) concludes tonight in Milwaukee.
21. New Orleans Hornets (7-10, Last Week: 20)
Marcus Thornton, a rookie from LSU, has given the Hornets a much-needed perimeter scoring punch.
In just 19 minutes per game this season, the 6-4 Thornton is averaging 12 points a game.
22. Toronto Raptors (7-11, Last Week: 19)
So much for all that money Bryan Colangelo spent over the summer.
Toronto has lost seven of their last nine, including their last three in a row.
23. Detroit Pistons (6-11, Last Week: 22)
After a great home win over Atlanta, the Pistons are looking to gain a little momentum, with their next four coming against Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington, and Philadelphia.
24. Memphis Grizzlies (6-11, Last Week: 26)
Despite a reputation as a loser, Zach Randolph is an incredibly-consistent stat machine.
Z-Bo is averaging 18 points and nine rebounds for Memphis, similar to his career averages of 17 and eight.
25. Golden State Warriors (5-10, Last Week: 25)
Before losing by double-digits to San Antonio and getting absolutely annihilated by the Lakers, Golden State had won two in a row, including an impressive road win over the Mavericks.
In other news, Vladimir Radmanovic has inexplicably been playing many more minutes than Anthony Randolph.
26. Washington Wizards (5-10, Last Week: 27)
The Wiz are 3-3 since getting Antawn Jamison back into the lineup.
Also, the Wizards have been getting a nice boost from 5-5 point guard Earl Boykins, who's been going for 10 points and four assists in seven games since being signed.
27. Philadelphia 76ers (5-12, Last Week: 21)
The Sixers have lost six in a row, including a couple of close losses against Washington and Boston.
The Lou Williams injury is devastating news, opening the door for all the Allen Iverson chatter.
28. New York Knicks (3-14, Last Week: 28)
Still waiting for 2010.
I wonder if it's possible for the bottom three spots in these rankings to stay the same for the entire rest of the season.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-15, Last Week: 29)
Somehow, they broke their 15-game losing streak last night with a road win against the powerful Nuggets.
Is this the beginning of an incredible sprint to the Finals for the T-Wolves?
...no.
30. New Jersey Nets (0-17, Last Week: 30)
The Nets will likely break the record for the worst record to start a season when they face Dallas at home Wednesday night.
Luckily for Lawrence Frank, he doesn't have to be around to witness it.


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