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NBA Power Rankings: Clippers gain ground

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

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Blake Griffin and the Clippers are on a roll with six straight wins. (AP)

The New York Knicks like their perch atop the NBA, and they might stay there a while, thanks to their immediate schedule. The remainder of November is filled with dates with New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Washington. The Knicks have only two more games this month against teams with winning records: Brooklyn and Milwaukee.

The Knicks owe credit to their best start in 18 years to Mike Woodson, whose demanding style has translated to Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith working harder on defense.

New York
1. (7-1, previous ranking: first): Marcus Camby returned Sunday. That, along with the Knicks' fast start, should allow Amar'e Stoudemire to take more time to return from knee surgery.


Los Angeles
2. Los Angeles Clippers (8-2, previous ranking: fifth): The Clippers have won six straight, including victories over Miami and San Antonio.

 

[Related: Can Clippers sacrifice egos and minutes?]


Memphis
3. Memphis Grizzlies (8-2, previous ranking: sixth): Memphis was on verge of moving into the top spot after handing New York its first loss Friday, but loss to Denver on Monday ended that.


Miami
4. Miami Heat (8-3, previous ranking: third): Flu-bit LeBron James, injured Dwyane Wade – Heat enjoying three off days after playing five games in seven days.


Oklahoma City
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-3, previous ranking: fourth): Should the Thunder start Kevin Martin at shooting guard? Or better to keep him in James Harden's old role?


San Antonio
6. San Antonio Spurs (8-3, previous ranking: second): San Antonio has lost two of its last four games and received more bad news with Stephen Jackson out four to six weeks after injuring his finger.


Brooklyn
7. Brooklyn Nets (6-2, previous ranking: 12th): The Nets have five straight wins, but face a tough week with road games against the Lakers, Golden State and Clippers.


Milwaukee
8. Milwaukee Bucks (6-3, previous ranking: eighth): Bobcats snapped the Bucks' three-game winning streak. Bigger test awaits with the Heat.


Los Angeles
9. Los Angeles Lakers (5-5, previous ranking: 14th): While Lakers await debut of Mike D'Antoni, they're 4-1 under Bernie Bickerstaff – and scoring at will.

 

[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of NBA.com]


Philadelphia
10. Philadelphia 76ers (6-4, previous ranking: 15th): Andrew Bynum didn't violate his contract by bowling, but he's not doing much to live up to it by injuring his knee again.


Golden State
11. Golden State Warriors (6-5, previous ranking: 22nd): Warriors have won three of their past four games. Only loss in stretch was to Oklahoma City.


Minnesota
12. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-4, previous ranking: seventh): While Brandon Roy has been sidelined by knee surgery, All-Star forward Kevin Love isn't too far away from returning.


Boston
13. Boston Celtics (6-5, previous ranking: ninth): Celtics continue inconsistent stretch, suffer humiliating 20-point loss at Detroit.


Charlotte
14. Charlotte Bobcats (5-4, previous ranking: 24th): First-year NBA coach Mike Dunlap has already guided Charlotte within two wins of last season's total.


Atlanta
15.Atlanta Hawks (5-4, previous ranking: 19th): Josh Smith, Al Horford, Lou Williams and Jeff Teague all scoring around mid-teens with Joe Johnson now in Brooklyn.


Chicago
16. Chicago Bulls (5-5, previous ranking: 10th): Missing Derrick Rose: Bulls have lost three of their past four games. Chicago has yet to win consecutive games this season. Miami.


Dallas
17. Dallas Mavericks (6-6, previous ranking: 17th): Mavs have lost three of their past five games and have rough schedule coming up with games against New York, Lakers, Philadelphia and Chicago.


Utah
18. Utah Jazz (6-6, previous ranking: 13th): Former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was in the stands to watch Utah beat Houston on Monday in Salt Lake City.


Portland
19. Portland Trail Blazers (5-5, previous ranking: 23rd): Safe to say rookie point guard Damian Lillard won't be dunking at the end of decisive victories anymore.

 

[Related: Blazer rookie Damian Lillard commits faux pas at buzzer (video)]


Indiana
20. Indiana Pacers (5-7, previous ranking: 21st): An already disappointing start almost got worse as Pacers survived to pull out a narrow win over winless Washington. Roy Hibbert needs to step up.


Denver
21. Denver Nuggets (5-6, previous ranking: 11th): Nuggets get major win at Memphis that could be the needed spark for them to finally play up to their potential.


Phoenix
22. Phoenix Suns (4-7, previous ranking: 16th): Suns have dropped three straight. Return of Mike D'Antoni to coach the Lakers brings reminder of good, old days.


Houston
23. Houston Rockets (4-7, previous ranking: 20th): The Rockets have dropped three straight, but get a lift with five of their next six games in Houston.


New Orleans
24. New Orleans Hornets (3-5, previous ranking: 18th): The Hornets have met reality after losing three straight. Game against New York on Tuesday won't help.


Toronto
25. Toronto Raptors (3-7, previous ranking: 28th): A win at Philadelphia on Tuesday would give the Raptors consecutive victories for first time this season.


Orlando
26. Orlando Magic (3-7, previous ranking: 26th): The Magic have lost two straight and seven of their past eight. Orlando desperately needs scoring in the post-Dwight Howard era.


Detroit
27. Detroit Pistons (2-9, previous ranking: 30th): Pistons playing much better of late with two wins – including 20-point victory over Boston – and close loss to Oklahoma City.


Cleveland
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-8, previous ranking: 25th): As if their tough start wasn't bad enough, the Cavaliers lost star guard Kyrie Irving for a month because of a broken finger.


Sacramento
29. Sacramento Kings (2-8, previous ranking: 27th): Kings were expected to play better than this. Players-only meeting took place last week.


Washington
30. Washington Wizards (0-9, previous ranking: 29th): The Wizards still haven't won, but struggling rookie Bradley Beal showed some life by scoring 18 points against Indiana.


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