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NBA Power Rankings: Pacers hold onto No. 1


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The Pacers are still tied for the NBA's best record after losing to the Bulls. (USA Today)


1. Indiana Pacers (9-1; last week's ranking: 1): The Pacers tied the franchise record with a 9-0 start before losing to Chicago on Saturday. Danny Granger is expected to soon return.

San Antonio
2. San Antonio Spurs (9-1; last week's ranking: 2): The Spurs have won seven straight and are 4-0 at home. Tim Duncan is averaging career-lows of 12 points and 39.4 percent shooting.

3. Miami Heat (7-3; last week's ranking: 5): The Heat finally look like they're back to their winning ways with a three-game streak. LeBron James has averaged 34 points during the three straight wins.

Los Angeles
4. Los Angeles Clippers (7-3; last week's ranking: 7): The Clippers have won four straight. Blake Griffin is quieting naysayers with a double-double average of 22.9 points and 10.9 rebounds.

Golden State
5. Golden State Warriors (7-3; last week's ranking: 8): The Warriors have won three straight games. The Warriors are running low on healthy players.


6. Portland Trail Blazers (8-2; last week's ranking: 11): The surprising Blazers have won six straight. Damian Lillard faces the Bulls' Derrick Rose for the first time Friday.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-4; last week's ranking: 4): Kevin Garnett returns to Minnesota when Brooklyn visits on Friday. Garnett led the T'wolves to their last playoff appearance in 2004.

Oklahoma City
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-3; last week's ranking: 3): The Thunder have a chance to avenge a testy loss to the Clippers at home Thursday. What kind of reception will Matt Barnes get?

9. Houston Rockets (7-4; last week's ranking: 9): Omer Asik has been benched two straight games since his trade request. Keep an eye on Dec. 15 when offseason signees can be included in trades.

10. Dallas Mavericks (6-4; last week's ranking: 13): What will owner Mark Cuban say when Houston's Dwight Howard visits Wednesday for the first time since Howard rejected the Mavs' free-agent advances?

11. Phoenix Suns (5-4; last week's ranking: 6): The Suns' last three losses have been by an average of two points. Journeyman guard Gerald Green is averaging 13.1 points.

12. Chicago Bulls (5-3; last week's ranking: 14): Derrick Rose scored 20 points for the first time this season in a win over Indiana on Saturday. Rose averaged over 20 points in each of the three seasons he played before having knee surgery.

13. Atlanta Hawks (6-4; last week's ranking: 17): The Hawks received a scoring boost with the recent return of Lou Williams, who averaged 14.1 points last season.

14. Memphis Grizzlies (5-5; last week's ranking: 10): The Grizzlies reached .500 with a win in Sacramento. Memphis is on the road against the Clippers and Warriors next.

15. Charlotte Bobcats (5-5; last week's ranking: 16): After facing Chicago on Monday, Charlotte will play five of its next six games at home. Al Jefferson is still hampered by a bad ankle.


16. Philadelphia 76ers (5-6, last week's ranking: 12): The Sixers have lost four of their past five games and have a losing record, but are still in first in the horrible Atlantic Division.

17. Denver Nuggets (4-5; last week's ranking: 28): The Nuggets are on the right track after winning three of their past four games. Oklahoma City, Chicago and a back-to-back with Dallas await.

New Orleans
18. New Orleans Pelicans (4-6; last week's ranking: 18): Ryan Anderson scored 26 points, including six 3-pointers, in his return from a broken toe last Saturday against the Sixers.

Los Angeles
19. Los Angeles Lakers (5-7; last week's ranking: 20): Golden State visits on Friday. Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon the last time the Lakers hosted the Warriors. Could this be his return?

20. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7; last week's ranking: 21): Guard Kyrie Irving is averaging 27.5 points in wins – including 41 in his last game – and 17.7 points in losses.

21. Toronto Raptors (4-7; last week's ranking: 24): The Raptors have dropped three of their past four games and need someone other than Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan to score.

22. Orlando Magic (4-6; last week's ranking: 25): Despite lots of interest in guard Arron Afflalo last summer, the Magic refused to trade him. Smart move. Afflalo is averaging a team-high 21.7 points.

23. Boston Celtics (4-7; last week's ranking: 26): Ex-Celtics star Paul Pierce said he doesn't feel bad for Rajon Rondo still being in Boston because Rondo now gets a chance to be the face of the franchise.


24. Detroit Pistons (3-6; last week's ranking: 15): Pistons newcomer Josh Smith goes to Atlanta on Wednesday to face the Hawks for the first time since leaving last offseason.

New York
25. New York Knicks (3-6; last week's ranking: 16): Carmelo Anthony, a free-agent-to-be, continues to express frustration saying, "We ain't playing worth a [expletive] right now."

26. Brooklyn Nets (3-6; last week's ranking: 22): Deron Williams (ankle), Paul Pierce (groin), Kevin Garnett (ankle), Brook Lopez (ankle) and Andrei Kirilenko (back) are all hampered by injuries.

27. Washington Wizards (2-7; last week's ranking: 19): After a poor start for a team that has aspirations to make the playoffs for first time since 2008, coach Randy Wittman could be on the hot seat.


28. Milwaukee Bucks (2-7; last week's ranking: 27): Milwaukee, loser of five straight games, is hopeful that Brandon Knight (hamstring) and Caron Butler (shoulder) will be back soon.

29. Sacramento Kings (2-7; last week's ranking: 29): The Kings have yet to win back-to-back games this season and have only one win in November. Three of the next four games are on the road.

30. Utah Jazz (1-10; last week's ranking: 30) The Jazz's first win in nine games prevented them from matching their worst start since opening their inaugural 1974-75 season with 11 consecutive losses.

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