The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 7

Two teams from the West are streaking. The Thunder have won 11 straight and the Clippers are not far behind with 10. It wont come as surprise on who the top 2 teams are in this week's edition.

Previous holders of the #1 spot, the Spurs and Grizzlies have struggled lately with both teams receiving 3-game losing streaks.

The New York Knicks lost their first home game last Monday but they remain the best team in the East even without Amare. The defending champs are not far behind them but they have been inconsistent.

The Lakers and Celtics are still struggling to establish a winning record while the Warriors and Hawks continue to win and surprise people.

The standings are current up to December 18. The rankings from last week refer to Week 6.

Serge Ibaka and the Thunder have been flexing
their muscles in the last 11 games, all wins.
(Image by: AP)

1. Oklahoma City Thunder | 20-4 | Last Week: 2 | +1
The best record and the longest winning streak in the NBA (11) have the Thunder as the best in the league. They have 13 wins over 10 points (tops). They got their revenge on the Spurs with Serge Ibaka posting monster numbers of 25 points and 17 rebounds.

2. Los Angeles Clippers | 18-6 | Last Week: 3 | +1
The Clippers have won 10 straight and are 7 games ahead of the Lakers in the Pacific division. They already have the franchise record for longest winning streak and that could be stretched to at least 13 games with the next 3 coming againts the Hornets, Pistons and Kings.

3. New York Knicks | 18-6 | Last Week: 4 | +1
The Knicks went 1-1 with Melo injured. They had an impressive win over the Lakers where Melo got injured but he was on fire before spraining his ankle. Without Melo, Jeremy Lin came  back on Monday night to defeat his ex-team. Amare is rehabbing at the D-league and could be back next week coming from the bench.

4. Miami Heat | 16-6 | Last Week: 6 | +2
The Heat defense is coming around slowly. They have held opponents to 89 points in their last 5 games (4-1 record). They are 30th in rebounding and got pounded on the glass by the Timberwolves, 53-24 but the Heat still won by 11. That wont work often against the elite teams.

5. Memphis Grizzlies | 16-6 | Last Week: 5 | Same
The Grizzlies have won 2 straight games versus quality teams (Bulls, Jazz) after dropping 3 straight. Their defense has been superb as they now rank 1st in least points allowed. Zach Randolph is still piling up double-doubles. Their best news of the week: hiring former ESPN stat analyst John Hollinger as VP of basketball operations.

6. Golden State Warriors | 17-8 | Last Week: 8 | +2
The Warriors finished their road trip at 6-1 which included nice wins over the Nets, Hawks and Heat. Steph Curry and David Lee have been playing like all-stars. Lee was just named West Player of the week. He had 7 consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He is averaging 23 and 12 for December.

7. San Antonio Spurs | 19-8 | Last Week: 1 | -6
The Spurs look vulnerable right now. Manu missed games with another injury and they have lost 4 of their last 5 games. Kawhi Leonard is expected to be back in the next couple of games and Stephen Jackson has been activated. Tim Duncan continues to play like an all-star at the age of 36.

8. Atlanta Hawks | 15-7 | Last Week: 7 | -1
The Hawks have beaten up 3 inferior teams (Magic, Wizards, Bobcats) in their last 5 games then lost 2 games to quality teams (Heat, Warriors). Their defense has been good, now ranking 6th in points allowed. The tandem of Smith and Horford has combined for 32 points and 18 rebounds and 3 blocks.

9. Chicago Bulls | 14-10 | Last Week: 13 | +4
The Bulls have been okay without Derrick Rose. They lead the Central division by a game. The defense is 2nd best while Joakim Noah recently got a triple-double in a win against the Celtics. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson have been nice additions. Bulls have a tough week ahead vs the Knicks and Hawks.

10. Denver Nuggets | 14-12 | Last Week: 16 | +6
The Nuggets have a modest 3-game winning streak and 2 of the wins were huge victories over the Grizzlies and Spurs. Andre Iguodala has underwhelmed in December while Danilo Gallinari has started to play better. The Nuggets are looking at a tough 2-game stretch next week: 25th @Clippers then 26th vs the Lakers.

11. Utah Jazz | 14-12 | Last Week: 10 | -1
The Jazz escaped Deron Williams and the Nets with a 2-point win after the Nets missed 3 shots in their last possession. The Jazz have won 2 of their last 4 games by a combined 5 points with Mo Williams beating the Spurs with a game-winning 3 at the buzzer. Al Jefferson has 14 double-doubles (tied at 6th).

12. Milwaukee Bucks | 13-10 | Last Week: 15 | +3
Larry Sanders is still swatting shots at a high rate. He now leads the league in blocks per game (3.1). Jennings had a superb game versus the Pacers when he netted 34 points and 6 assists. Monta Ellis leads them in scoring but his shooting has been horrible at 40% and a much worse three-ball at 21%.

13. Brooklyn Nets | 13-11 | Last Week: 14 | +1
The Nets have lost 2 straight games by a total of 3 points then won against the Pistons on a buzzer-beater by Joe Johnson. Brook Lopez is back playing and that will be crucial in the 3rd "Borough Battle" with the Knicks at MSG. Deron Williams has not played at an elite level with poor shooting numbers (39% fg, 30% threes and below 17 a game).

14. Indiana Pacers | 13-12 | Last Week: 17 | +3
The Pacers are still superb defensively and terrible on offense. Good for them that Paul George has been amazing last week, earning the East Player of the week. Roy Hibbert was showing signs of coming alive until he sustained a minor thigh injury. Danny Granger is still weeks away from playing.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves | 12-11 | Last Week: 18 | +3
Ricky Rubio has played 2 games and is still adjusting to game pace and his conditioning is not there yet. They are sitting him in back-to-backs. Kevin Love continues to rebound well but his shooting touch is still missing. He went 2-10 against the Heat but grabbed 18 boards. He had more rebounds than the Heat during halftime.

16. Houston Rockets | 12-12 | Last Week: 19 | +3
Nice win for Jeremy Lin and the Rockets as they gave the Knicks their first home loss. They also beat the Celtics but surprisingly lost to an inferior Raptors' team. There has been talk of having Lin coming from the bench to support the 2nd unit since his numbers playing with Harden have not been that good. Both dominate the ball but Harden is an all-star.

17. Boston Celtics | 12-12 | Last Week: 12 | -5
The Celtics have lost 3 straight games all over 10 points and are struggling like the Lakers. Rondo had less than 10 assists in 2 straight games, both losses. They are 29th in rebounding with Garnett leading them at 7 a game. Pierce continues to struggle with his shot (42%).

18. Dallas Mavericks | 12-13 | Last Week: 11 | -7
The Mavs are awaiting the return of Dirk. He is practicing and could be back soon. The Mavs lost 2 games inn overtime last week then also lost to the Raptors who were missing key players. Chris Kaman has not rebounded the ball well with 6.5 a game which is his lowest past his rookie year.

19. Portland Trailblazers | 11-12 | Last Week: 21 | +2
Damian Lillard is making a very strong case as the best rookie. He made a game-winning three at the buzzer against Anthony Davis and the Hornets. Lillard is in the top 15 in threes made and tops among rookies. The Blazers have won 3 straight including a nice win over the Spurs.

20. Los Angeles Lakers | 12-14 | Last Week: 20 | Same
Pau Gasol is back while Nash could be healthy by next week. The Lakers made an amazing comeback vs the Bobcats after being down 18 at home. They have won 3 straight regardless of competition. Kobe Bryant continues to score at an impressive rate. He has scored 30+ points in his last 7 games and is averaging 34 points in December.

21. Philadelphia 76ers | 12-13 | Last Week: 9 | -12
The Sixers have lost 4 straight games with Jrue Holiday missing 3 of those. He is still considered day-to-day and Evan Turner has played point guard. The Sixers need Jrue back soon with a 5-game road trip coming up. Andrew Bynum continues to be out with his knee injury.

22. Orlando Magic | 11-13 | Last Week: 22 | Same
The Magic are somewhat exceeding expectations with their wins. They still wont make the playoffs but their 11 wins show that they are going in the right direction. They have won 3 straight and the schedule gets easier in the next 3 games. Nikola Vucevic continues to improves as a starting center.

23. Phoenix Suns | 10-15 | Last Week: 26 | +3
The Suns also have a modest 3-game winning streak with decent wins over the Grizzlies and Jazz. Michael Beasley has lost his starting job and is getting only 17 minutes in his last 5 games. The Suns responded to his benching with a winning streak. Will they win more games if he gets traded?

24. Toronto Raptors | 7-19 | Last Week: 30 | +6
The Raptors have won 3 straight without Lowry and Bargnani. Jose Calderon has played amazing as a starter including getting a triple-double versus the Rockets. Alan Anderson has played 3 games back from injury and in 2 of those wins, he averaged 21 points and 4 boards off the bench.

25. Sacramento Kings | 7-17 | Last Week: 23 | -2
The Kings have lost 5 straight games and all of them have been blowouts. An injured and inconsistent Tyreke Evans has directly hampered the Kings from competing. Even DeMarcus Cousins has struggled after receiving another suspension (13 points and 9 rebounds in his last 3 games).

26. Detroit Pistons | 7-17 | Last Week: 24 | -2 
The Pistons have lost 5 games straight and will face the suddenly hot Raptors next. Then they get to play another bad team in the Wizards for a home-and-home series. Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight have both played better in their last 5 games (combined 36 points and 8 assists).

27. Cleveland Cavaliers | 5-21 | Last Week: 25 | -2
The Cavs are another team mired in  a losing streak. After beating the Lakers, they have lost 4 straight. The good news: Dion Waiters is back on the court and Kyrie Irving did not miss games for a broken jaw. Any Varejao is still putting up all-star numbers but the wins have been rare.

28. New Orleans Hornets | 5-19 | Last Week: 28 | Same
The bottom of the standings have teams all in losing streaks including the Hornets who have lost 8 straight even with Anthony Davis playing. Some good news: Eric Gordon is almost done with his rehab and there;s a good chance he gets to play in the next week or two.

29. Charlotte Bobcats | 7-17 | Last Week: 27 | -2
The Bobcats have now lost 12 straight games and they almost beat the Lakers after being up by 18 points at the 3rd quarter. They are last in defense and is among the bottom 5 in assists. Kemba Walker has been great so far but he is prone to ball domination and isolation shots. Byron Mullens also loves to launch shots without hesitation albeit the 38% shooting.

30. Washington Wizards | 3-19 | Last Week: 29 | -1
The Wizards are back at the basement with a 4-game losing streak. Still no John Wall and no Ariza. Nene has been in and out with minor injuries. On the good news: Jordan Crawford had a triple-double vs the Hawks and Bradley Beal has shown signs of offensive improvement. 

Biggest Rise: Nuggets and Raptors +6
Biggest Fall: Philadelphia 76ers -12

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