Power Rankings: Grizzlies still on top
Monday, Nov. 26
Strength of schedule. Average victory margin. Quality wins. Overall record.
Those are some of the main categories weighed by ESPN.com's NBA Power Rankings committee (of one) when putting the teams in 1-to-30 order every Monday ... and strong readings in all those areas helped the Memphis Grizzlies overcome a potentially costly home defeat to the Denver Nuggets last Monday to retain the top spot for the second successive week.
Since two of Memphis' top threats to swipe the No. 1 ranking -- the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers -- each absorbed two losses since the last edition of the rankings, the Grizzlies managed to hold on at the top of the heap despite losing to Denver on the same day they unexpectedly rose to the summit. The Griz, though, combined the value of a comfortable win (over the Los Angeles Lakers) in their only other game in a light week with the two losses each suffered by the Knicks and Clippers to stay at No. 1.
In other notable moves in the upper third, San Antonio and Miami rose to Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, while Oklahoma City reclaimed its rightful spot in the top five. The Thunder, benefiting from the Knicks' four-spot slide from No. 2 to No. 6, made that move after three straight Mondays at no higher than No. 6.
The rankings are compiled with ever-helpful dishing from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. Click here to rank the teams yourself.
|2012-13 Power Rankings: Week 4|
|RANK||TEAM / RECORD||TRENDING||COMMENTS|
Last Week: 1
|The Grizzlies' home loss to Denver mere hours after being anointed No. 1 by the committee (of one) reminded us that the Power Rankings jinx trumps all other jinxes worldwide. But that home win over the Lakers stopped us from dropping the Grizz after the sort of L that's usually more costly.|
Last Week: 4
|It seems reasonable to assume that the Spurs, even without Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson, will arrive in Miami with a 5-0 record on their current six-game trip. Washington and Orlando are the next stops for a team that has (no misprint) won 27 of its last 31 away assignments.|
Last Week: 5
|It's a lot easier to say so after the champs scored the final nine points in less than two minutes to complete a Houdini act against visiting Cleveland ... but life is good now that they're back off the road. How good? They've got only two road games between now and Christmas ... and one is in D.C.|
Last Week: 6
|We'll dig into the Thunder's recent defensive slippage or the most well-rounded ball of Kevin Durant's career some other Monday. Nothing else in Loud City matters this week beyond James Harden's first return to town -- and his only scheduled return this season -- in Rockets colors.|
Last Week: 3
|That early loss to Golden State that I keep harping on looks increasingly forgivable, but I'm not about to argue with Chris Paul. If he says back-to-back stumbles in Brooklyn and Atlanta were "terrible," after the Clips won a big roadie in San Antonio and played OKC close, then they're terrible.|
Last Week: 2
|Is there such a thing as a Weekend Dime jinx? Can't help feeling there has to be some sort of connection between the most gushing Melo praise ever from the committee and the Knicks' no-show in Houston that made their previously celebrated defense look like a mirage.|
Last Week: 9
|The Hawks have risen to No. 1 in the league in defensive efficiency. And they likewise climb in our top 10, in spite of a mostly soft schedule, thanks to a home win over the Clips that -- even with L.A. on the second night of a back-to-back -- still looks pretty nice beside Atlanta's recent W at OKC.|
Last Week: 7
|Encouraged as the Lakers are about how quickly Antawn Jamison has taken to Mike D'Antoni, and as relieved as L.A. was to avoid its first 0-5 start on the road since 1993-94, don't read too much into what you're seeing right now. The season doesn't really start until Steve Nash comes back.|
Last Week: 12
|The Nets of Brooklyn vintage have their first win of real quality courtesy of Friday's worthy shutdown of the high-flying Clips. Which means that Brooklyn's team will be taking some undeniable momentum into Monday night's rescheduled first installment of the New York derby with the Knicks.|
Last Week: 10
|Remember when the Celtics, in the first four years of the Kevin Garnett era, seemed borderline unbeatable before Christmas? Let the record show that these Celts, with their suspect D, couldn't manufacture a W worthy of a complimentary Bill Simmons tweet until the night after Thanksgiving.|
Last Week: 16
|What next for the streakiest team in basketball? The Nuggets just followed up a three-game skid with four straight W's -- conquering Memphis in Memphis for starters and watching Kenneth Faried move up to eight double-doubles after just 12 last season -- but eight of the next nine are roadies.|
Last Week: 11
|After giving up 100 points in four straight games -- which qualifies as a bigger circus in the Thibodeau Era than anything going on back home -- Chicago just submitted its most Bulls-y effort of the season by going into Milwaukee and grinding one out against the Central Division leaders.|
Last Week: 8
|The split between Brandon Jennings' home and road shooting -- .391 at the Bradley Center, .444 in all other arenas -- is finally starting to even out a bit. But the Bucks, sadly, seem intent on being this season's team that nosedives every time we show a little rankings faith in them.|
Last Week: 19
|Didn't see this coming, frankly. Despite playing eight of their first 14 games on the road -- and playing them, for the most part, without the injured Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush -- Golden State has matched its best start to this point since the "We Believe" Warriors went 8-6 in 2006-07.|
Last Week: 13
|As previously stated, I'd really rather not keep coming back to Utah's well-documented issues with taking its show on the road. But what choice does a committee have when the Jazz are 5-0 on their floor, winning by an average of 10.8 points, and 2-7 away after getting dumped in Sacramento?|
Last Week: 15
|Andrew Bynum is out indefinitely. While the Sixers have coped by relying on their D, athleticism and Jrue Holiday's living up to his contract extension as effectively as any 2009 first-rounder not named Griffin or Harden, there are no words I can put here to soften the blow of that first sentence.|
Last Week: 22
|You might not see another offensive eruption all season from the Rockets like the one they mustered in the Jeremy Lin Bowl, but talking about basketball in Houston any further, quite frankly, feels incredibly empty in the wake of the terrible tragedy Kevin McHale and his family are facing.|
Last Week: 21
|Michael Jordan just celebrated his happiest Thanksgiving in years. Personalized thank-you cards from His Airness are owed to Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions, GM Rich Cho for the cred he's given MJ's front office and, of course, Coach of the First Trimester front-runner Mike Dunlap.|
Last Week: 14
|The Mavs can't complain too much about a .500 record when Dirk Nowitzki -- having never missed more than nine games in any single season -- hasn't played one second yet. The problems? Their PG play is slipping steadily, and 11 of the next 15 games on their soft-'til-now schedule are roadies.|
Last Week: 20
|The Pacers' recent offensive uptick (and we're really using uptick liberally here) delivered little more than two wins over bottom-feeding Washington and New Orleans. Only one of Indy's top five scorers, in fact, is shooting better than .411 from the floor: David West, naturally, at .467.|
Last Week: 17
|With Damian Lillard believers sprouting up everywhere these days, it's probably best to keep asking questions about the rest of this new three-|
man core: LaMarcus Aldridge (still not shooting the ball anywhere near his norm) and a better-than-ever Nic (Can He Keep This Up?) Batum.
Last Week: 18
|Kevin Love came back two weeks earlier than scheduled from an injury caused by knuckle pushups. The inclination here is to hat-tip him, despite three L's all frustrating in their own way in Love's first three games back, because he's trying so hard to make it up to a beat-up squad.|
Last Week: 25
|You see the Michael Beasley crunch-time layup that wouldn't stay down in Philly? You see the reaction on the Suns' bench when it didn't stay down? Not the way they wanted to start a six-|
game road trip ... although none of the next three stops (Cleveland/Detroit/Toronto) is too daunting.
Last Week: 28
|The Kings predictably failed to sweep their home-|
and-home with Utah no matter how much they felt like they should have. Yet last week still figures to rank as one the best weeks Sacramento sees all season, thanks largely to the pounding inflicted upon the Lakers even with Kobe Bryant scoring 38.
Last Week: 26
|Devil's advocate follow-up to Week 3's comment: Any relief the Magic feel about refusing to take back Andrew Bynum in the Dwight Howard deal has to be classified as conditional. What happens if Brook Lopez, whom they also could have snagged, keeps progressing from his current groove?|
Last Week: 27
|We started to see a bit more of Andre Drummond over the weekend, but his limited PT to date is about all we can second-guess with a coach who can't do anything this season except develop the kids. With apologies to Tayshaun Prince, Lawrence Frank is the least of Detroit's problems.|
Last Week: 24
|It would appear that the fall-from-ahead loss at home to Indy on opening night was something of a tone-setter for the Raps, who just endured the season's most agonizing week of defeats for any team outside of the nation's capital ... and now hit the road for (yikes) seven of the next eight.|
Last Week: 29
|The Cavs beat the Clippers in L.A. They should have beaten the Heat in Miami even with Kyrie Irving out. Think we'll stay focused on Andy Varejao (15+ boards in eight games already) or the positive stirrings from my man Omri Casspi instead of trying to explain those anomalies.|
Last Week: 23
|Think we have our answer to last week's question. As spectacularly efficient as Anthony Davis has been when we've seen him, he's only managed to play in six of his first 12 games, plagued now by a stubborn ankle issue after his concussion. Yet another frustrating/depressing NBA injury.|
Last Week: 30
|The tease of a near-victory in Atlanta morphed into full-on torture against Charlotte. The Wiz look more credible with Nene on the floor, but you can't help but wonder how long it'll take 'em to recover from those emotionally crushing OT losses. If they don't beat Portland this week, look out.|
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