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Clippers stay on top; Nuggets continue their ascent

Three teams in the West have separated themselves from the pack, but there's another team from that conference making noise in this week's Power Rankings.

The Thunder, Clippers and Spurs all reached the 30-win plateau last week while no other team is within four victories of the mark, signifying just how much the three are lapping the rest of the league. They're 1-2-3 in the NBA in record, margin of victory and net rating, and they've showed that no one is going to run away with the Western Conference title. While the Heat could have a relatively easy cruise to the NBA Finals, whoever emerges from the West will have to survive a gauntlet to get there.

Another team hoping to make a stand in the playoffs is Denver, which cracks the top five in the rankings for the first time this season after another impressive week. George Karl's squad is crushing opponents at home, going 15-2 with an average margin of victory of 9.3. And with eight of their next nine games in Denver, the Nuggets are unlikely to go anywhere but up in the immediate future.

Despite the loss of Chris Paul, the Clippers remain on top this week, barely edging the Thunder, who have won five consecutive games. The Rockets (No. 12) and Trail Blazers (No. 17) both tumble after shooting up the ladder the week before.

(Note: All statistics and records are through Jan. 17.)

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