10. Denver Nuggets (25-18, Last Week: 9): The Nuggets followed up a six-game winning streak with losses to the league-leading Oklahoma City Thunder, and the league-worst (record-wise) Washington Wizards. However, the Nuggets avenged their loss against OKC by defeating the Thunder in overtime on Sunday.
9. Chicago Bulls (23-16, Last Week: 11): Three consecutive victories last week bump the Bulls up here, although they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime at home on Saturday. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah have played exceptionally well, and face the up-and-down Lakers tonight.
8. Indiana Pacers (25-16, Last Week: 8): The Pacers have won six of their last eight games, but did lose two games (against Brooklyn and Orlando) last week. Danny Granger is eying a late January or early February return to the court.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (26-13, Last Week: 3): Three consecutive losses to Western Conference opponents (Mavericks, Clippers, and Spurs), before winning two games against the Kings and Bulls show that Memphis may not quite be ready to dominate the Western Conference just yet.
6. New York Knicks (25-13, Last Week: 5): The Knicks followed up three losses against Eastern Conference opponents with consecutive victories over the Hornets and Pistons. It is still unclear how the Knicks will incorporate Amar’e Stoudemire into their system. So far, Stoudemire has been unimpressive off the bench.
5. Brooklyn Nets (24-16, Last Week: 7): The Nets are about as streaky of a team as they come. Having won eight of nine, Brooklyn is still a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Deron Williams has picked up his level of play as well–averaging 19.3 points and 8.1 assists during the stretch compared with season averages of 17.0 points and 7.7 assists.
4. Miami Heat (26-12, Last Week: 6): Since our last rankings, the Heat lost to the Jazz, defeated the Warriors, and then beat the Lakers. They haven’t played since last Thursday and won’t play again until Wednesday, but their defense against the Lakers proved why they’re still the defending champs.
3. San Antonio Spurs (32-11, Last Week: 4): The Spurs dominated last week; going 4-0 against the T-Wolves, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Hawks. Tony Parker is playing exceptional basketball right now.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-9, Last Week: Tied for 1): Despite winning six games in a row, the Thunder lost against the Denver Nuggets in overtime on Sunday, which drops them to number two this week.
1. Los Angeles Clippers (32-9, Last Week: Tied for 1): The Clippers have won four in a row and are absolutely dominating their opponents. During the stretch, Jamal Crawford has played out of his mind while averaging 26.3 points, Lamar Odom has pulled down an average of 10.0 rebounds per game, and Chris Paul has only been a part of one of those games. The Clippers truly are the deepest team in the league, and it’s becoming unfair for the opposition.