NBA Power Rankings: Grizzlies take top spot
The Memphis Grizzlies have clawed their way past the New York Knicks and other elite competition to take over the top spot in Yahoo! Sports' weekly NBA power rankings for the first time this season.
The Grizzlies, the only NBA team with just two losses, finish the month against the struggling Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons. The Grizzlies would have been No. 1 a week ago after a big win against New York, but ruined that jump by losing to the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 19.
New York dropped from the top spot to sixth after losing three of their past four. The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder are all nearby, keeping Memphis from getting comfortable at the top.
1. Memphis Grizzlies (10-2, previous ranking: third): Memphis was reminded about the high value of point guard Michael Conley. The Grizzlies beat the Kyrie Irving-less Cavaliers by a low margin, 84-78, without Conley on Monday. Rudy Gay is playing like an All-Star.
2. Miami Heat (10-3, previous ranking: fourth): The Heat have won four straight and are 6-0 at home. Heat play eight of their next nine in Miami, including a big matchup against the hot San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
3. San Antonio Spurs (12-3, previous ranking: sixth): Spurs are an impressive 8-1 on the road and have won four straight. San Antonio also is the first team to reach 12 victories this season after winning at hapless Washington on Monday.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-4, previous ranking: fifth): The Thunder are winning without fanfare, having triumphed in five of the past six contests. Forward Serge Ibaka is averaging a career-high 14.5 points.
5. Brooklyn Nets (9-4, previous ranking: seventh): Brooklyn earns big home victory Monday over the Knicks, a suddenly real cross-town rival. Nets have won three straight and visit tough divisional foe Boston on Wednesday.
[Related: Phil Jackson unlikely to coach again?]
6. New York Knicks (9-4, previous ranking: first): After NBA-best start, Knicks have now dropped three of their past four games. Not having injured forward Amar'e Stoudemire's scoring and rebounding hurt in loss at Brooklyn.
7. Atlanta Hawk (8-4, previous ranking: 15th): Here come the Hawks with five straight victories and wins in six of their past seven. Defensive-minded Hawks are allowing only 92.1 points per game while scoring 95.2.
8. Boston Celtics (8-6, previous ranking: 13th): Stop calling Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett old as they are both still playing at an All-Star level. Could Boston add another 30-plus player in free-agent forward Kenyon Martin soon?
9. Los Angeles Lakers (7-7, previous ranking: ninth): Dwight Howard will face his old Orlando Magic on Sunday for the first time. The bigger game is March 12 when Howard returns to Orlando.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (8-6, previous ranking: second): Clippers lose four straight for first time since February of 2011 after embarrassing home loss to Anthony Davis-less New Orleans on Monday.
11. Golden State Warriors (8-6, previous ranking: 11th): Rookie Harrison Barnes had dunk of season so far in a victory against Minnesota. Injured center Andrew Bogutexpected back soon from ankle injury.
12. Denver Nuggets (8-7, previous ranking: 21st): The Nuggets won four in a row before falling at Utah on Monday. Denver's tough trip continues with back-to-back games at Lakers and Golden State.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (8-6, previous ranking: 10th): Looking like we might not see Andrew Bynum in a Sixers uniform this season or maybe ever. What do you pay a gimpy Bynum in free agency?
14. Utah Jazz (8-7, previous ranking: 18th): The talented, young and deep Jazz have won four of their past five games. Utah faces a major test Friday at Oklahoma City.
[Related: Andray Blatche takes shots at Wizards]
15. Milwaukee Bucks (7-5, previous ranking: eighth): Bucks end three-game skid with big comeback win at Chicago on Monday. Bench playing really well for Bucks. Point guard Brandon Jennings nursing ankle injury.
16. Charlotte Bobcats (7-6, previous ranking: 14th): Bobcats were feeling good about themselves after reaching seven wins – their entire victory total last season – until Monday when Oklahoma City drilled them by 45 points. That game aside, Kemba Walkerlooks much improved.
17. Dallas Mavericks (7-7, previous ranking: 17th): The Mavs are badly missing Dirk Nowitzki's scoring. After O.J. Mayo (21.5 points per game), no one else is averaging over 14.
18. Chicago Bulls (6-7, previous ranking: 16th): The Derrick Rose-less Bulls blew a 27-point lead at home Monday against the Bucks. Chicago has dropped four of past five contests.
19. Indiana Pacers (6-8, previous ranking: 20th): Could coach Frank Vogel be in trouble soon if underachieving Pacers don't turn it around? Roy Hibbert has had a disappointing start, averaging 9.6 points on 37.9 field-goal percentage.
20. Phoenix Suns (6-8, previous ranking: 22nd): Could Suns be on the rise? Phoenix has won two its last three and has winnable contests this week on the road against Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto.
21. Portland Trail Blazers (6-8, previous ranking: 19th): The Blazers have dropped three of their past four games and face winless Washington on the road Wednesday. Could Portland be Washington's first win?
22. Houston Rockets (6-7, previous ranking: 23rd): The Rockets recently received tragic news that coach Kevin McHale's daughter, Sasha, died. The Rockets players have expressed Twitter condolences.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-7, previous ranking: 12th): Wolves have lost five straight despite the recent return of Kevin Love from injury. Much-needed Ricky Rubio could be back soon.
24. Orlando Magic (5-8, previous ranking: 26th): After losing to Boston on Sunday, it gets worse for the Magic as they next face San Antonio, Brooklyn and ex-Magic star Dwight Howard and the Lakers.
25. Sacramento Kings (4-9, previous ranking: 29th): Tyreke Evans averaged 21.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting the last four games after averaging 11.6 points and 38.8 percent shooting in his first nine.
26. New Orleans Hornets (4-9, previous ranking: 24th): Hornets enjoy huge triumph at Clippers on Monday that snapped a seven-game losing streak with injured stars Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon watching.
27. Toronto Raptors (3-11, previous ranking: 25th): The Raptors have lost their last four. Ex-Rocket Kyle Lowry returns to Houston on Tuesday night to face his replacement in Jeremy Lin.
28. Detroit Pistons (4-11, previous ranking: 27th): Pistons ended 12-game Western Conference losing streak with win over Portland on Monday. Greg Monroe quietly playing strong overall game for Detroit.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-11, previous ranking: 28th): The Cavs won their first game without Kyrie Irving on Nov. 21 but have since dropped three straight. But rookie guard Dion Waiters has scored at least 15 points in the past four games.
30. Washington Wizards (0-12, previous ranking: 30th): The Wizards are being compared to the Washington Generals. The Wizards are the 12th team in NBA history to start 0-12.
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