Russell Westbrook is averaging a career-best 8.3 assists per game. (USA Today Sports)
The Oklahoma City Thunder remain atop the Yahoo! Sports weekly NBA rankings for the second straight week, but its standing will be challenged Tuesday night.
The Thunder visit the second-place Clippers in a Western Conference showdown in Los Angeles. The Clippers topped the rankings the previous three weeks before the Thunder took over.
Records are through Monday.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-9, previous ranking: first): Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has averaged 33.8 points over his last four games. The expected All-Star’s averages of 8.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game are career-bests.
2.Los Angeles Clippers (32-10, previous ranking: second): Will Chris Paul be available for the Thunder game on Tuesday night? Paul, in his second game back from a knee injury, had a season-low four points on 1-of-7 shooting in a loss at Golden State on Monday.
3.San Antonio Spurs (33-11, previous ranking: third): The Spurs are rolling and have won six of their last seven games, including five straight. San Antonio should have two Western Conference All-Star reserves in forward Tim Duncan and guard Tony Parker.
4. Miami Heat (26-12, previous ranking: fourth): If healthy and able to shake off the rust, the Heat might have filled their void for length and size with the addition of 6-foot-11 forward-center Chris Andersen, who specializes in shot-blocking and rebounding.
5.Memphis Grizzlies (26-14, previous ranking: fifth): Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and the rest of the Grizzlies can breathe a sigh of relief after the team's new management made a creative trade with Cleveland that saved $6 million to keep the team under the luxury tax.
6.New York Knicks (25-14, previous ranking: sixth): The rivalry between the Knicks and the Boston Celtics resumes Thursday in Boston. After their last spat, will Carmelo Anthony have a hidden microphone on him when he trash talks with Kevin Garnett?
7. Golden State Warriors (25-15, previous ranking: seventh): The Warriors ended a skid in which they lost five of six games with victories against New Orleans and the Clippers. Golden State took the season series 3-1 against the Pacific Division-leading Clippers.
8. Indiana Pacers (26-16, previous ranking: eighth): Don’t sleep on the Pacers, who are now 8-3 in January with wins over Miami, New York and Memphis. But even with the run, the Pacers hold a slim lead in the Central Division over Derrick Rose-less Chicago.
9.Brooklyn Nets (25-16, previous ranking: 10th): The Nets are the NBA’s best team in 2013 with a 9-1 January record. Center Brook Lopez is making an All-Star push by averaging 7.3 rebounds and 19.4 points on 53.3 percent shooting in January.
10. Denver Nuggets (25-18, previous ranking: ninth): Will the real Nuggets please stand up? Denver loses to lowly Washington last Friday then beats Oklahoma City on Sunday. Denver often plays to the level of its competition, which could hurt its playoff seeding.
11. Chicago Bulls (24-16, previous ranking: 11th): The Bulls have earned a solid record without injured star point guard Derrick Rose. With Rose close to practicing and possibly returning in the near future, Chicago could be poised to be a title contender.
12. Utah Jazz (22-19, previous ranking: 16th): The Jazz are 7-2 in January, including a big win against Miami. Veterans Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson are filling the point guard void with Mo Williams out because of injury. Should the Jazz add a young point guard?
13. Atlanta Hawks (23-18, previous ranking: 12th): After a strong start, the Hawks are 4-8 in January. Should general manager Danny Ferry consider trading forward Josh Smith after his recent one-game suspension?
14. Houston Rockets (22-21, previous ranking: 13th): The Rockets, who are hosting the All-Star game, snapped their seven-game losing streak with a win against Charlotte on Monday. With Houston’s recent slide, James Harden’s All-Star bid could be in trouble.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (21-18, previous ranking: 17th): The Bucks enter Tuesday night's game having won three of their past four. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, both All-Star candidates, are averaging nearly the same points, assists and rebounds.
16. Boston Celtics (20-20, previous ranking: 14th): Could the Celtics’ subpar play keep a deserving Paul Pierce from being an All-Star for the first time since 2007? Boston already has two All-Star starters in Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett despite its record.
17. Portland Trail Blazers (20-21, previous ranking: 15th): The Blazers' hopes of putting LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum or rookie Damian Lillard on the All-Star team were hurt by six straight losses.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-21, previous ranking: 18th): Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea was fined $5,000 on Monday for his second violation of the NBA's anti-flopping rules. A third violation would merit a $10,000 fine. Guessing Barea is done flopping.
19. Los Angeles Lakers (17-24, previous ranking: 19th): With forward Jordan Hill out for season and guard Steve Blake still out, it is amazing the Lakers haven't added a player with their open roster spot. Word is Kobe Bryant wouldn’t mind adding a wing defender.
20. Dallas Mavericks (18-24, previous ranking: 21st): The Mavericks have won five of their past six games with the only loss coming to Oklahoma City. Dallas has four days off before a huge home contest against San Antonio on Friday.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (17-24, previous ranking: 20th): Point guard Jrue Holiday is making his case for All-Star honors, averaging 19.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists, but Philly’s record and tough competition at guard could keep Holiday from the team.
22. Sacramento Kings (16-26, previous ranking: 23rd): After the Kings depart to Seattle, the Warriors will own Northern California and more by being on TV from Fresno through the Bay Area to Sacramento and up to Lake Tahoe, Nev., next season.
23. Toronto Raptors (15-26, previous ranking: 22nd): Point guard Jose Calderon is having a solid January, averaging 13.2 points and 7.6 assists, and is outplaying Kyle Lowry. It would be interesting to see what the Raptors could get for Calderon on the trade market?
24. Detroit Pistons (15-25, previous ranking: 24th): The Pistons have lost three of their last five games. The latest battle of the basement takes place Tuesday as the Pistons host Orlando with plenty of seats available. Remember when The Palace was always sold out?
25. Orlando Magic (14-26, previous ranking: 25th): The Magic have lost their last seven games against teams with losing records and have allowed an average of 113.0 points per game in the last five of those losses.
26. New Orleans Hornets (14-27, previous ranking: 27th): Eric Gordon and the Hornets are on the rise after winning seven of their past nine games. But New Orleans visits San Antonio on Wednesday and has a long way to go to be a .500 ball club.
27. Washington Wizards (9-30, previous ranking: 30th): The Wizards are 4-2 since point guard John Wall returned from a knee surgery. But even in the East, the point guard has acknowledged that the Wizards have too much ground to make up for a playoff bid.
28. Phoenix Suns (13-28, previous ranking: 26th): Coach-on-the-rise Lindsey Hunter is an interesting choice as interim coach over veteran Elston Turner. Don’t expect former Suns coach Alvin Gentry to re-join coach Mike D’Antoni on the Lakers’ bench this season.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-32, previous ranking: 29th): Newcomer Marreese Speights is a decent replacement for forward-center Anderson Varejao, who was poised to become a first-time All-Star but is out for the season because of a blood clot in his leg.
30.Charlotte Bobcats (10-31, previous ranking: 28th): The Bobcats set a franchise record with their 15th straight loss at home on Monday against Houston. The longest home losing streak in NBA history is 19 straight by Dallas during the 1993-94 season.