A league of their own

A league of their own
By Steve Kerr, Yahoo Sports
January 16, 2006

Steve Kerr
Yahoo Sports
The first rout – at the Palace on Christmas Day – was supposed to be a fluke. The Spurs didn't want to be in Michigan, they were tired, they were without Manu Ginobili, etc.

The second game was supposed to be a better indication of where San Antonio stood in comparison to the Pistons. The Spurs were healthy, ready and undoubtedly fired up for revenge.

That's what made Detroit's undressing of the Spurs in the Alamo City on Thursday even more enlightening than the first one. The Pistons proved with their blowout win that there isn't a single team in the NBA that is ready to challenge them. So for now, the league should be called the "DBA'" – Detroit's Basketball League.

Here's a look at this week's rankings (records and statistics are through Jan. 15):

Detroit 1. Detroit Pistons (29-5, Last week: 1) – Utter domination of San Antonio – again. The Pistons own the NBA.
San Antonio 2. San Antonio Spurs (28-9, Last week: 2) – Free-throw woes for Tim Duncan are popping up again.
Dallas 3. Dallas Mavericks (27-10, Last week: 3) – Dirk Nowitzki is on the short list for MVP candidates.
Phoenix 4. Phoenix Suns (24-12, Last week: 4) – How many games has Eddie House won for the Suns this season?
Miami 5. Miami Heat (23-15, Last week: 8) – The Heat are starting to roll. They won four straight on the road, averaging 111 points.
Memphis 6. Memphis Grizzlies (23-12, Last week: 7) – Mike Fratello will get serious coach of the year recognition for the job he's doing.
Indiana 7. Indiana Pacers (20-15, Last week: 9) – Jermaine O'Neal's sprained ankle is just the latest adversity this club has been through, and yet they're still hanging in there.
L.A. Clippers 8. Los Angeles Clippers (19-14, Last week: 12) – A short work week – two games – was just what the doctor ordered for the Clips. They need Elton Brand back soon.
New Jersey 9. New Jersey Nets (19-15, Last week: 6) – Come back, Richard Jefferson. The Nets averaged 79 points during a three-game losing streak without him.
Cleveland 10. Cleveland Cavaliers (20-15, Last week: 5) – The Cavaliers miss Larry Hughes in a big way. They're just 2-5 with him on the sidelines.
Utah 11. Utah Jazz (19-18, Last week: 11) – Did anyone else see Greg Ostertag block two of Shaquille O'Neal's shots Saturday night, or was I seeing things?
L.A. Lakers 12. Los Angeles Lakers (20-17, Last week: 13) – Say what you want about Kobe Bryant, but there's no one in the league who takes over games like he does.
Milwaukee 13. Milwaukee Bucks (19-16, Last week: 10) – The Bucks have lost five of seven, and now they head to Dallas and San Antonio.
Denver 14. Denver Nuggets (19-19, Last week: 15) – Carmelo Anthony is putting up huge numbers night after night, and he's hitting big shots. Consecutive game-winners over Houston and Phoenix highlighted a big week.
Philadelphia 15. Philadelphia 76ers (18-18, Last week: 16) – Kyle Korver is settling into a solid season. His long three at the buzzer against Boston forced a second overtime, enabling Philly to pull out the win.
Minnesota 16. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-17, Last week: 17) – Kevin Garnett's numbers are solid, as usual: 22 points, 11 boards, 55-percent shooting. But he still needs help.
Washington 17. Washington Wizards (16-19, Last week: 20) – The Wizards have won four of five, and as usual, Gilbert Arenas is leading the way.
New Orleans 18. New Orleans Hornets (17-19, Last week: 18) – Chris Paul is playing with torn ligaments in his thumb, and he's doing quite nicely, too.
Golden State 19. Golden State Warriors (17-19, Last week: 14) – The reeling Warriors are defenseless. They've lost five straight, surrendering an average of 107 points.
Chicago 20. Chicago Bulls (15-21, Last week: 19) – Tyson Chandler just isn't developing offensively.
Toronto 21. Toronto Raptors (13-24, Last week: 25) – The Raptors have some confidence. They'll need it on a five-game road trip.
New York 22. New York Knicks (13-22, Last week: 26) – The six-game winning streak is over, but the Knicks are back in the hunt in the Atlantic.
Sacramento 23. Sacramento Kings (13-19, Last week: 23) – The Kings are battered, but Mike Bibby is doing what he can. His career-high 42 points helped Sacramento beat Orlando on Sunday.
Seattle 24. Seattle SuperSonics (15-22, Last week: 21) – Ray Allen put up a fight for the Sonics. Now his team has to do the same at the defensive end of the court.
Orlando 25. Orlando Magic (13-22, Last week: 22) – The Magic's four-game Western swing was a disaster. They went 0-4, and their point guard (Steve Francis) quit on them.
Boston 26. Boston Celtics (14-22, Last week: 24) – The Celtics aren't winning, but Ricky Davis is quietly having a very strong season.
Portland 27. Portland Trail Blazers (10-24, Last week: 30) – Ruben Patterson is back in the fold, and his defense slowed down Kobe and LeBron James in key fourth-quarter moments. The Blazers have won three in a row.
Houston 28. Houston Rockets (12-23, Last week: 27) – The Rockets are now 0-11 without Tracy McGrady.
Charlotte 29. Charlotte Bobcats (11-26, Last week: 28) – Gerald Wallace almost had the most impressive triple-double of the season in a one-point loss to Milwaukee: 21 points, 15 rebounds and eight steals.
Atlanta 30. Atlanta Hawks (9-26, Last week: 29) – Tyronn Lue is a nice player, but somehow he always ends up on the league's worst team.

Steve Kerr is Yahoo! Sports' NBA analyst. Send Steve a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Monday, Jan 16, 2006 2:56 pm, EST

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