Third power rankings... and not much has changed at the very top. But beyond numbers 1 & 2, movement's been the name of the game.
Still the same ol' story tho': beyond the top 10 teams (or so), there's not much and the middle is very murky. And the bottom? As always, some truly dismal teams.
Power Rankings #3
1. LA Lakers (same) - As I watched the LA/PHX game (that LA won 108-88 - tacos again!), LA's defense is described as "tenacious". My, how times have changed.
Combining this whilst still having a damn good offense bodes well for a repeat.
Have to mention again: Bryant's game-winner over Miami was epic. Epic.
2. Boston Celtics (up 1) - Boston doing what Boston do best. Finding ways to win.
3. Denver Nuggets (up 4) - Carmelo Anthony is the only player in the NBA to score at least 20 points in every game this season. And just quietly, he has Denver as one of the "teams-most-likely" at this point in time.
4. Cleveland LeBronskis Cavaliers (up 8) - LeBron James is an amazing player, and he has the Cavs playing loose and freely. That equates to trouble for any team not named LA or Boston.
5. Orlando Magic (up 4) - One of my favourite rosters in the league. They have a little bit of everything. With Jameer Nelson slated to come back some time later this month, Orlando are going to be right up there.
6. Phoenix Suns (down 4) - Phoenix's light has dimmed a little. They're a good side, but not elite.
They still look strong, and hold one of the best records in the NBA, but the loss in Cleveland wasn't close, and 2 huge losses in LA hurt.
7. Dallas Mavericks (down 3) - One of the better teams in the league, but back-to-back losses to Memphis, then at home to Atlanta were awkward.
8. Miami Heat (down 3) - Still not a believer, this is a team that's far too reliant on one singler player. The lack of other teams putting their hand up as being worthy of a higher slot is the only reason Miami hold this spot.
9. Atlanta Hawks (down 1) - Previously considered 'strong', this is a team that's shown some very real chinks in the armour. Definitely a team that has it's moments, but they REALLY struggle against any team that has a dominant 'big' presence.
10. San Antonio Spurs (up 1) - Old. That's it. And they looked it when they played Boston, and held Boston to TWO OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS... and still lost 83-90. Tim's still Timmy, but he's an older, slower Timmy (still better than all but about 2 big men in the league).
Richard Jefferson hasn't been the offensive force that was expected, but the play of Blair has been a saving grace.
11. Houston Rockets (up 2) - Houston find themselves in a bit of a quandary here: do you bring back the still obviously-talented Tracy McGrady, or stay with the scrappy line-up that they've had some success with? For me: stay with what's working. Introducing T-Hack will disrupt this, and have them looking to defer to the franchise's ... ummm... 'star'.
12. Portland TrailBlazers (down 6) - Their record would indicate that they're better than this, but with the injury to Greg Oden, this is a franchise that's taking some hits. GM Kevin Pritchard on the Oden injury:
"It felt like a punch in the guts."
13. Utah Jazz (up 1) - Here's a surprise: contract year and Carlos Boozer's playing good ball. Who'da thunkit? Riiiiiiiight... Deron Williams is fantastic, and surely it's HIS turn this year for an All-Star berth!
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (up 3) - I'm amazed at putting them here. It's as much for the simple fact that no-one else is stepping up as anything that they're doing... but they're doing what they should be doing. They're losing to the better teams, but beating who they should be beating. With the youth on this roster, this is a very good thing to find them this good, this early.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (up 5) - Ignore some of the slip-ups, teams with a young PG are going to do that from time to time... but this team is good, and I believe that with Redd back, they're going to be even better. They have one of the better centers in the East (Bogut), and a player in Jennings who can absolutely take over a game.
16. Chicago Bulls (down 6) - The Bulls sunk REALLY fast this season, and it wasn't so much the losses as the way they lost. At least Joakim Noah proved he has rocks as big as Gibraltar.
17. Sacramento Kings (down 1) - Could it be that Sacramento are no longer "the Queens"? Yes, I think time they reclaim their masculinity.
18. Toronto Raptors (down 3) - The (C)Raptors just continue to find new and interesting ways to lose... well... sans the interesting. Bosh's days in Canadia-land are numbered.
19. Charlotte Bobcats (up 3) - Will go down as the team that the 0-18 Nets beat to stop their run of losing. Not the way you want your season to be remembered. Still, there's lots of reasons for this team to smile...good, young roster with a good future.
20. New Orleans Hornets (down 1) - New coach, but same results. This is a team that's in desperate need of something to rally around. Chris Paul's a good player, possibly great - but his leadership is in question here.
21. LA Clippers (up 2) - Has the world gone mad??? The Clip this high??
22. Washington Wizards (up 4) - A real Doctor Jekyll of a team - can be pretty damn good one night, only to be filthy-awful, abysmal the next.
23. Memphis Grizzlies (up 4) - The Griz actually have all the pieces to make a damn good team. A dominant big man, a very good scoring forward, a guard who can take over a game, and a decent enough point man. They're just young.
24. Detroit Pistons (down 6) - Detroit have really disappointed of late, since December 15th, they've won 3 and lost a staggering 8 games. Eww.
25. Golden State Warriors (same) - Much like the Wiz, a real dual personality of a team. Scratch that: this team's a split personality on a "Sybil" level.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (down 5) - Have been completely and utterly awful of late, and are only here due to the fact that they signed AI to replace Lou Williams.
27. Indiana Pacers (down 3) - Danny Granger aside, there's not much to like about the Pacers. Well... even when you include Danny, it's still a pretty dismal team.
28. New York Knicks (up 1) - Don't let the climb up one spot fool you: this team has more issues than Brittany Spears.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (down 1) - Probably the biggest fans of the New Jersey Nets, because if not but for them, this team would be the worst in the league.
30. New Jersey Nets (same) - A brief light with the win over the Cats, but then gutted by New York. This team is one for the ages... it'll be a long time before we see a franchise that's historically awful on a truly biblical scale.