Durant leads NBA run at top of CSPR
Going into the week, it was going to take a lot to knock Jeremy Lin from his perch atop the rankings. The NBA's first 50-point game this season? Yeah, that'll do it. Kevin Durant set a career high with 51 points in an overtime win against Denver, becoming the first Thunder player to top the 50-point mark since the team moved from Seattle in 2008. That was good enough to earn him the top spot in this week's rankings.
But should Lionel Messi and his four-goal performance have been able to break the NBA monopoly at the top? Check out the full rankings below and let us know what you think in the comments section. If you impress our panel with your critique, you could be featured as a guest ranker for next week's edition.
2012 Cross-Sport Power Rankings panel: Sara Walsh, John Buccigross, Robert Flores, Michael Smith, Bram Weinstein, Mike Hill, Jorge Andres, Charissa Thompson, DJ Gallo, Jim Basquil, Kevin Connors, Will Selva, Jeff MacGregor and Steve Weissman.
2012 Cross-Sport Power Rankings
|The Nuggets-Thunder box score from Sunday was full of historical goodies, but Durant's 51-point performance stole the show. It's stunning to think that the two-time scoring champ had never topped 50 in a game prior to his outburst against Denver. A few more games like that, and he could be in line for a third scoring title.|
|The Hornets ended the Knicks' win streak last week, but Lin bounced right back with a 28-point, 14-assist effort against the defending champs in New York's toughest game since the second-year point guard was inserted into the starting lineup. Now he faces perhaps his biggest challenge: playing alongside Carmelo Anthony.|
|While everyone's focused on the Thunder's statistical achievements and Jeremy Lin's resurrection of the Knicks, the Heat just keep cruising along, and James is a big reason. In his three games last week, James averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, in a trio of double-digit wins. He may think sitting out the fourth quarter so often is messing up his averages, but the numbers don't look too bad from here.|
|Thanks to a bit of an assist from Chris Paul, the Spurs have won 11 straight, but Parker has done his share. During the win streak, he's averaging 23.7 points and 8.3 assists, numbers that are downright Jeremy Lin-esque. After a slow start in 2012, the former Finals MVP has the Spurs rolling on their rodeo road trip, with six road wins under their belts and three games to go.|
|Barcelona may still be looking way up at Real Madrid in the La Liga tables, but Messi closed the gap on Cristiano Ronaldo as the league's top goal scorer with his four-goal performance against Valencia on Sunday. Just five days earlier, Messi scored one goal and assisted on another in Barca's Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen, as he continues to cement his status as the best soccer player in the world.|
|A 17-point, 17-rebound game against a Top 25 opponent would usually be enough to get a player noticed by our panel. But Gordon wanted to make sure he was in the rankings, so he one-upped his game against San Diego State by putting up 27 points and 20 rebounds in a blowout victory over UNLV, vaulting New Mexico to the top of the Mountain West standings in the process.|
|It's hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, MacDonald was Detroit's third-string goalie. An injury to Jimmy Howard pressed him into action, and he's started the last seven games for the Red Wings, winning the last six. He's helped the Wings push their home win streak to 23 games and has as many wins in the last two weeks as he had in the previous two seasons combined.|
|Winning on the road against the UConn women's basketball team isn't impossible, it just seems that way. The Huskies had won 99 straight at home prior to Saturday's shocker, when Smith's 3-pointer from the wing lifted St. John's to a one-point victory over UConn. Smith's only 3-pointer of the game, and just her fourth of the season, made the Red Storm the fifth road team to win at Storrs since 1993.|
|The versatile Spartans forward had his first back-to-back 20-point games of the season, against Wisconsin and Purdue, leading Michigan State to two key wins. He was nothing if not consistent, finishing with exactly 20 points and 10 rebounds in both wins. Toss in 12 combined assists in Sparty's two wins, and you've got a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate.|
|Dr. Ironfist continues to power through whatever the heavyweight division throws at him, improving to 9-0 since his 2008 comeback with a methodical victory over Dereck Chisora. But Klitschko's biggest accomplishment was probably staying above the flurry of extracurricular activities, including a slap, a spit and a post-fight brawl. That's how you become a doctor of sports science.|
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