10. Denver Nuggets (13-6)
Last week — Beat Milwaukee, beat L.A. Clippers, beat Memphis
In their current seven-game win streak, the Nuggets have topped 100 points all but once (when they scored 98), and have done it when Carmelo Anthony was out for one game and off for more than one.
9. Atlanta Hawks (13-8)
Last week — Beat Memphis, beat Philadelphia, lost at Miami
Joe Johnson is out 4-6 weeks with a right elbow injury, which he admitted has been bothering him all season and explains his low scoring (17.1 ppg) and shooting (25% 3PA) numbers.
8. Miami Heat (13-8)
Last week — Beat Washington, beat Detroit, won at Cleveland, beat Atlanta
The fan says LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh have found their rhythm, seeing as they’ve won four in a row by an average of 19 points a night. The critic says those W’s were against the Little Sisters of the Poor and a Hawks team missing its best player.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-7)
Last week — Beat New Orleans, won at New Jersey, lost at Toronto, beat Golden State
Russell Westbrook puts up crazy numbers when Kevin Durant is out, but let’s settle down on debating whether he’s more valuable to the team than KD. When Westbrook has to be The Man, OKC’s offense becomes too reliant on one person.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (14-6)
Last week — Lost at Memphis, lost at Houston, beat Sacramento
Fourth place in the West? Only one game ahead of the Heat? Where are the panic-button pressers and rumors of Phil Jackson getting fired?
5. Utah Jazz (15-6)
Last week — Beat Milwaukee, beat Indiana, lost to Dallas
The Mavs rolled into town and snapped Utah’s seven-game win streak, and Deron Williams’ five-game streak of scoring at least 20 points.
4. Orlando Magic (15-5)
Last week — Beat Detroit, won at Chicago, won at Detroit, lost at Milwaukee
A rampant stomach virus swept through the team and put Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus out of action. Marcin Gortat didn’t get sick, but he made Stan Van Gundy want to puke with his defense against Andrew Bogut (31 pts, 18 rebs) on Saturday.
3. Boston Celtics (16-4)
Last week — Beat Cleveland, beat Portland, beat Chicago, won at New Jersey
Don’t forget, Kevin Garnett once led the NBA in rebounding four years in a row. He’s pulled down double-digit boards in four of his last five games and is averaging 9.6 for the season.
2. San Antonio Spurs (17-3)
Last week — Won at Golden State, lost at L.A. Clippers, beat Minnesota, beat New Orleans
Imagine how much better they’ll be when Tiago Splitter comes over from Brazil and joins the team.
1. Dallas Mavericks (16-4)
Last week — Beat Houston, beat Minnesota, won at Utah, won at Sacramento
Defense and Dirk. While Nowitzki (24.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg) puts together another MVP-caliber season, the Mavs are shutting down some potent offenses and getting critical stops in crunch time. They’ve won nine in a row.