1. Portland Trail Blazers
(23-5; last week's ranking: 2): Point guard Damian Lillard is averaging 23.8 points and 5.9 assists in December. Too bad the Blazers aren't playing on Christmas.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
(22-5; last week's ranking: 3): The Thunder would have jumped to No. 1 had they not lost to the Raptors at home on Sunday night.
3. Indiana Pacers
(22-5; last week's ranking: 1): Would like to hear the NBA's rationalization as to why the Pacers, owners of the East's best record, aren't playing on Christmas.
4. San Antonio Spurs
(21-6; last week's ranking: 4): The Spurs have a big Christmas game against Dwight Howard
and the Rockets. Will Tim Duncan guard Howard much?
5. Miami Heat
(20-6; last week's ranking: 5): LeBron James
makes his lone visit to play the Lakers in L.A. on Christmas. A Lakers fan's Christmas wish is for James to return in July to sign with them.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
(20-9; last week's ranking: 6): There will be no good tidings when the Clippers visit Golden State on Christmas. The Pacific Division contenders hate each other.
7. Houston Rockets
(18-10; last week's ranking: 7): Dwight Howard has had a strong December, including the 35 points and 19 rebounds he totaled in a win at Detroit on Saturday.
8. Phoenix Suns
(16-10; last week's ranking: 10): The Suns made 15 3-pointers in a win over Dallas on Saturday. They're averaging 9.7 made 3-pointers on 25.3 attempts per game.
9. Dallas Mavericks
(15-12; last week's ranking: 9): Dallas has lost two straight and four of six. It doesn't get any easier for the struggling Mavs with the Rockets and San Antonio up next.
10. Golden State Warriors
(15-13; last week's ranking: 11): Ex-Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala should expect the fans to boo him when he returns to Denver on Monday for the first time since he signed with the Warriors.
11. Denver Nuggets
(14-12; last week's ranking: 8): Denver has dropped three straight games and six of its past 10. Adding to the Nuggets' troubles: Kenneth Faried recently suffered an ankle injury.
12. Atlanta Hawks
(15-12; last week's ranking: 16): The Hawks, one of just three teams in the East with a winning record, play at Miami on Monday. Atlanta averages an NBA-best 25.6 assists.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
(13-15; last week's ranking: 12): Kevin Love has averaged 33 points and 14 rebounds over the past six games. He had 45 and 19 on Sunday against the Clippers, yet the T'wolves coughed up the lead in the final seconds of regulation before losing in overtime.
14. Washington Wizards
(12-13; last week's ranking: 21): Keep an eye on the Wizards, who have won three straight games. Washington has the talent to land the weak Eastern Conference's third seed.
Los Angeles Lakers (13-14; last week's ranking: 14): Should the Lakers tank? Their best chance to find a star to eventually replace Kobe Bryant
could be in the 2014 NBA draft.
16. Charlotte Bobcats
(13-15; last week's ranking: 22): The new logo the Charlotte Hornets will use
next season is attractive and creative. The Bobcats era will quickly be forgotten in Charlotte.
17. Detroit Pistons
(13-16; last week's ranking: 18): If only the Pistons could play all their games on the road. Detroit owns a 6-10 home record and is 7-6 on the road.
New Orleans Pelicans (11-14; last week's ranking: 13): Even the return of Anthony Davis
can't save the Pelicans. They have dropped four straight games and six of their past 10.
19. Memphis Grizzlies
(11-15; last week's ranking: 15): Wonder if Golden State will end up regretting cutting new Memphis rookie guard Seth Curry, brother of the Warriors' Stephen Curry?
20. Boston Celtics
(12-17; last week's ranking: 17): The Rockets let their self-imposed deadline to trade center Omer Asik pass, but Boston is still having trade discussions in hopes of landing him, a source said.
21. Sacramento Kings
(8-18; last week's ranking: 23): A nice stocking stuffer for Kings fans would be tickets to see LeBron James and the Heat in their lone visit to Sacramento on Friday.
22. Toronto Raptors
(11-14; last week's ranking: 20): Toronto is not done making trades, a source said. Point guard Kyle Lowry, who has played well in December, is expected to eventually be moved.
23. Chicago Bulls
(10-16; last week's ranking: 19): Newcomer D.J. Augustin was impressive in his first start at point guard for the Bulls, totaling 18 points and 10 assists in a win over Cleveland on Saturday.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers
(10-16; last week's ranking: 24): If only the Cavaliers could play all their home games in Cleveland. Cleveland is 8-4 at home and 2-12 on the road this season.
25. Brooklyn Nets
(9-17; last week's ranking: 25): Brooklyn is slated to pay injury-plagued center Brook Lopez, out for the season with a foot injury, $47 million through the 2015-16 season.
26. Utah Jazz
(8-22; last week's ranking: 26): After losing its first nine road games, Utah has won five of its past eight away from home. The team's current five-game road trip ends at Memphis on Monday.
27. New York Knicks
(8-18; last week's ranking: 27): The struggling Knicks are 4-10 at Madison Square Garden this season. The Thunder visit the Garden on Wednesday.
28. Orlando Magic
(8-19; last week's ranking: 28): NBA teams keep inquiring about whether guard Arron Afflalo is available for trade. Orlando keeps saying no, a source said.
Philadelphia 76ers (8-20, last week's ranking: 29): Forward Thaddeus Young remains a candidate to be traded prior to the deadline, a source said.
30. Milwaukee Bucks
(6-21; last week's ranking: 30): Milwaukee looks to win consecutive games for the first time this season Monday at Charlotte. The Bucks are just 3-10 on the road.
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