1. Golden State Warriors (Record: 26-5; last week’s rank: 1): Warriors coach Steve Kerr says there is “a light at the end of the tunnel” for the return of injured center Andrew Bogut (knee), but didn’t specify how far away the light was.
2. Portland Trail Blazers (Record: 26-8; last week’s rank: 2): The Blazers, who play four of their next five at home, are 15-3 at the Moda Center and are tied with the Clippers for most home wins in the league.
3. Atlanta Hawks (Record: 25-8; last week’s rank: 7): Former Hawks star Dominique Wilkins could have a high-level role with the next ownership group in Atlanta.
4. Chicago Bulls (Record: 24-10; last week’s rank: 9): A must-see shooting guard matchup could take place Monday if Chicago’s Jimmy Butler returns from bereavement leave to face Houston’s James Harden.
5. Dallas Mavericks (Record: 25-10; last week’s rank: 6) The Mavericks are the hottest team in the West right now with five straight wins and a 6-2 record since acquiring Rajon Rondo.
6. Toronto Raptors (Record: 24-10; last week’s rank: 3): DeMar DeRozan (groin) is expected to return on Thursday against Charlotte, a source said. Kyle Lowry could use the help.
7. Houston Rockets (Record: 23-10; last week’s rank: 5) Newcomer Josh Smith is averaging nine points on 39.3 percent shooting from the field and has missed eight of nine 3-point attempts with Houston.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (Record: 24-9; last week’s rank: 4): Zach Randolph has missed the past seven games with a sore right knee and is questionable against New York on Monday.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 23-11; last week’s rank: 10) The Clippers get a strong home test on Monday against the East-leading Hawks, who have won four straight and 18 of their past 20.
10. Washington Wizards (Record: 22-11; last week’s rank: 8) The Wizards are 1-3 on a tough Southwestern road trip that ends at New Orleans Monday night. They are 7-5 on the road versus the West.
11. Phoenix Suns (Record: 20-16; last week’s rank: 12): Phoenix’s Robert Sarver could join Denver’s Stan Kroenke (Arsenal and Colorado Rapids) as NBA owners who own pro soccer clubs after a recent bid to buy the Rangers F.C. in Glasgow, Scotland.
12. San Antonio Spurs (Record: 21-14; last week’s rank: 11) In his past three games, Tim Duncan is averaging 9.7 points on 12-of-27 shooting from the field with just five free throws made.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record: 19-15; last week’s rank: 13): Kevin Love has awaken, averaging 28.5 points the past two games with LeBron James (knee) sidelined.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (Record: 17-16; last week’s rank: 14) Guard Eric Gordon might play against Washington on Monday after missing the past 21 games with a shoulder injury.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record: 17-17; last week’s rank: 15): Kevin Durant became the first NBA player to score 30 points in 19 minutes against Golden State on Dec. 18 before spraining an ankle. He returns to Golden State on Monday.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (Record: 18-17; last week’s rank: 16) The Bucks recently worked out free-agent forward Kenyon Martin, but don’t appear to be in a rush to sign a player to a 10-day contract.
17. Sacramento Kings (Record: 14-20; last week’s rank: 17): All was going well reputation-wise for center DeMarcus Cousins until his recent rag-doll toss of Celtics rookie Marcus Smart.
18. Denver Nuggets (Record: 14-20; last week’s rank: 18) Lost among all the standout point guards is Ty Lawson, who is averaging 16.6 points and 10.2 assists.
19. Brooklyn Nets (Record: 16-17; last week’s rank: 20): The Nets are one of the NBA All-Star hosts this year, but have no player deserving of All-Star recognition.
20. Miami Heat (Record: 15-20; last week’s rank: 19): Free-agent guard Ray Allen, who played with the Heat last season, still is undecided about whether he is returning to the NBA, a source told Yahoo Sports.
21. Orlando Magic (Record: 13-24; last week’s rank: 21): Rookie Elfrid Payton has been picking up his game recently, averaging 9.2 points, 7.8 assists and 4.6 assists over his past five games.
22. Utah Jazz (Record: 12-22; last week’s rank: 22): Utah is awaiting word on the severity of guard Patrick Christopher’s dislocated knee to determine the direction of its 10-day-contract move, a source said.
23. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 11-23; last week’s rank: 24): Some time off worked for Kobe Bryant, who has averaged 17 points, 8.5 assists and eight rebounds in four games since returning.
24. Indiana Pacers (Record: 13-22; last week’s rank: 25): Indiana has allowed just 91.8 points per game in its last nine contests, which is 4.1 points better than its NBA-leading mark.
25. Boston Celtics (Record: 11-20; last week’s rank: 23): Keep an eye on newcomer Brandan Wright as the NBA trade deadline approaches. He is seeing little time in a crowded frontcourt.
26. Charlotte Hornets (Record: 11-24; last week’s rank: 26): Charlotte is 5-5 since guard Lance Stephenson, who is on the trading block, has been sidelined with a pelvic sprain.
27. Detroit Pistons (Record: 10-23; last week’s rank: 27): They have won five straight games since waiving Josh Smith and are four games out of the final East playoff spot.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record: 5-27; last week’s rank: 28): Point guard Ricky Rubio (ankle) will soon be passing to some blossoming young talent in Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine.
29. New York Knicks (Record: 5-31; last week’s rank: 29): The struggling Knicks have lost 11 straight games and the “Fire Fisher” chants have begun for rookie coach Derek Fisher.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (Record: 4-28; last week’s rank: 30) Could Jason Richardson become the next Sixer traded if he plays well upon his projected return from injury in late January?
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