10. New York Knicks (16-12)
Last week — Lost to Boston, lost to Miami, lost at Cleveland
Their three-game collapse wasn’t as swift as the Giants’ crumpling against the Eagles, but just as demoralizing.
9. Denver Nuggets (16-10)
Last week — Beat Orlando, lost to San Antonio, beat Minnesota
They’re still trying to wash Gary Neal’s facial hair out of J.R. Smith’s shorts.
8. Chicago Bulls (16-9)
Last week — Beat Indiana, won at Toronto, lost to L.A. Clippers
Derrick Rose missed a free throw with 0.8 on the clock that cost the Bulls a chance to extend their win streak to eight. With the Sixers (twice), Wizards, Knicks, Pistons, Bucks, Nets (twice), Cavs and Raptors coming up, though, they can realistically run off another long string of W’s.
7. Utah Jazz (19-9)
Last week — Beat Golden State, lost at New Orleans, won at Milwaukee
Just when you were getting used to seeing Francisco Elson on the court in crunch time, Mehmet Okur returns to the lineup.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-9)
Last week — Beat Houston, beat Sacramento, lost to Phoenix
After a 1-for-6 shooting effort behind the three-point line in the loss to Phoenix, Kevin Durant is hitting just 29% of his threes this season. And he’s still leading the League in scoring.
5. Los Angeles Lakers (21-7)
Last week — Won at Washington, won at Indiana, won at Philadelphia, won at Toronto
Before the big Christmas Day game against Miami, Andrew Bynum gets his toughest test yet when he faces Andrew Bogut this week.
4. Dallas Mavericks (21-5)
Last week — Lost to Milwaukee, beat Portland, beat Phoenix
Brutal week ahead with Miami, Orlando and Oklahoma City, all on the road.
3. Miami Heat (21-8)
Last week — Beat New Orleans, beat Cleveland, won at New York, won at Washington
Notice how less and less people are dumping on Chris Bosh now? He’s averaging 18.5 points and 8.9 boards in Miami’s undefeated December, and he saved them against the Wizards with his shooting and defense.
2. Boston Celtics (22-4)
Last week — Won at New York, beat Atlanta, beat Indiana
The injuries keep piling up, yet the Celtics keep finding ways to win. The streak is at 13 in a row now, without Rondo, Perkins, J.O. and Delonte in the lineup.
1. San Antonio Spurs (23-3)
Last week — Beat Milwaukee, won at Denver, beat Memphis
After the Pistons beat the Hornets on Sunday, one of Detroit’s announcers yelled, “Too many heroes to count!” as the team walked off the floor. That’s what it’s like for the Spurs right now. There’s no telling who will step up and be the difference-maker, whether it’s Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, George Hill, Matt Bonner…