NBA Power Rankings: Make way for Blazers

Marc J. Spears


1. Indiana Pacers (12-1; last week's ranking: 1): Pacers have won three straight and have a big road test on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Danny Granger still hasn't played.

San Antonio

2. San Antonio Spurs (12-1; last week's ranking: 2): The Spurs, winners of 10 straight, face a tough challenge Wednesday at Oklahoma City.


3. Miami Heat (10-3; last week's ranking: 3): LeBron James returns to Cleveland to face his old coach and team on Wednesday. The James' free-agency rumor mill will be abuzz.


4. Portland Trail Blazers (12-2; last week's ranking: 6): The Blazers grew closer when they immediately came to the aid of Joel Freeland in a skirmish and comeback win against the Warriors.

Oklahoma City

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (9-3; last week's ranking: 8): The Thunder opened the season 6-0 at home, but San Antonio comes to town on Wednesday and Golden State visits on Friday.

Los Angeles

6. Los Angeles Clippers (10-5; last week's ranking: 4): Chris Paul has had at least 15 assists four times this season and reached double-digits in assists in all but one game – Saturday's win over Sacramento when he finished with nine.


7. Houston Rockets (9-5; last week's ranking: 9): James Harden, who averages a team-best 24.2 points, is expected to miss his third straight game with a sore foot on Monday against Memphis.


8. Dallas Mavericks (9-5; last week's ranking: 10): Monta Ellis has averaged 28 points and 8.5 made free throws the past four games. Ellis plays his old team, Golden State, on Wednesday.


9. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-7; last week's ranking: 7): The T'wolves' fast start has cooled after three losses in their past four games. A loss to the Pacers on Monday would drop them to .500.


10. Memphis Grizzlies (7-6; last week's ranking: 14): With Marc Gasol out, Kostas Koufas will start at center. Koufas averaged eight points and 6.9 rebounds as a starter for Denver last season.

Golden State

11. Golden State Warriors (8-6; last week's ranking: 5): Already coping with injuries, the Warriors suffered a big loss with Andre Iguodala out. The Warriors' old starting five with Harrison Barnes is back.


12. Atlanta Hawks (8-6; last week's ranking: 13): Tough to get excited about the Hawks' good start because they lack a signature victory against a power team. The Hawks play at Houston on Wednesday.


13. Chicago Bulls (6-6; last week's ranking: 12): With Derrick Rose out, the Bulls' point guards are now Kirk Hinrich and Marcus Teague. Can they remain the East's third-best team without Rose?


14. Phoenix Suns (7-6; last week's ranking: 11): The Suns bring a two-game winning streak to Miami on Monday. But keep in mind, the Suns also spent Sunday night in Miami.


15. Charlotte Bobcats (7-7; last week's ranking: 15): Charlotte is switching to purple and teal when it changes its name back to the Hornets next season. Big question: Will mascot Hugo the Hornet also return?


16. Denver Nuggets (6-6; last week's ranking: 17): Ex-Nugget Carmelo Anthony returns to Denver for the second time on Friday. With the Knicks' struggles, maybe it's time to see if Anthony regrets the move.

New Orleans

17. New Orleans Pelicans (6-6; last week's ranking: 18): The Pelicans have won three straight games, but have a tough back-to-back at San Antonio and against Golden State.

Los Angeles

18. Los Angeles Lakers (8-7; last week's ranking: 19): Coach Mike D'Antoni doubts Kobe Bryant returns from injury during the Lakers' three-game road trip. Their next home game is Dec. 1 against Portland.


19. Philadelphia 76ers (6-9, last week's ranking: 16): The Sixers have gone from 3-0 to three games under .500. Philadelphia's next six games are against teams without a winning record.


20. Washington Wizards (5-8; last week's ranking: 27): The struggling Nets and Knicks are taking the spotlight off the Wizards' poor start. A win over Indiana on Friday could spark Washington.


21. Detroit Pistons (5-8; last week's ranking: 24): Josh Smith, who signed a four-year, $54 million contract in the offseason, has not scored over 20 points the past five games.


22. Toronto Raptors (6-7; last week's ranking: 21): New front office is trying its best to be patient and evaluate the roster before making changes, sources said. Toronto's needs: a point guard and inside scoring.


23. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-10; last week's ranking: 20): The Cavaliers are doing little so far to impress LeBron James and persuade him to come home as a free agent next summer.


24. Sacramento Kings (4-10; last week's ranking: 29): The Kings are actively searching for a small forward, sources said. They would love to trade guard Marcus Thornton and his contract.


25. Boston Celtics (5-10; last week's ranking: 23): Boston snapped a six-game losing streak with a comeback win over Atlanta. A return for Rajon Rondo (knee) is likely weeks away.


26. Orlando Magic (4-9; last week's ranking: 22): Orlando has lost four straight games (two against Miami) and seven of eight overall. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo is shooting 39.8 percent.

New York

27. New York Knicks (3-9; last week's ranking: 25): Expect Los Angeles media to grill Carmelo Anthony about free agency – and the Lakers – during the Clippers game Wednesday.


28. Brooklyn Nets (3-10; last week's ranking: 26): The injury-plagued Nets, owners of the NBA's highest payroll, have dropped five straight games. The Nets host the Knicks next week.


29. Milwaukee Bucks (2-10; last week's ranking: 28): Brandon Jennings faces his former team on Monday for the first time since joining the Pistons. His first game in Milwaukee is Dec. 4.


30. Utah Jazz (1-10; last week's ranking: 30): With rookie point guard Trey Burke now playing, it's probably time for the listless Jazz to move Derrick Favors back to his natural position at center.