By Chris Mannix
December 07, 2009
NBA Power Rankings
11 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 14
Rick Adelman and Tracy McGrady have cleared the air and decided ... that McGrady's still not playing. Adelman reiterated last week that there is no timetable for T-Mac's return, only this time McGrady sounded OK with it. "I feel good about the talk we had and where we stand and what he's trying to do," McGrady told the Houston Chronicle. "He's looking out for me and my best interests as far as getting back on the basketball court. And because we have a young team, we just can't throw me out there like that. I'm looking forward to getting a few more practices in and seeing what happens."
12 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 12
Utah Jazz (11-8)
Jerry Sloan's bunch might have vaulted into the top-10 had they not swallowed a road loss to Minnesota. They might wish they had that one back after this upcoming stretch: Utah will play San Antonio, Orlando and the Lakers twice before the end of the week.
13 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 13
No doubt OKC is going to be a team to reckoned with down the road, but it keeps coming up short in big moments. The Thunder has dropped two games to the Lakers and one apiece to Orlando (who they did beat at home earlier this season) and Boston, the latter an 18-point pounding at the Ford Center last week. Kevin Durant put up 36 points against the stingy Celtics D -- if only the rest of his teammates could catch up.
14 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 11
It seems Manu Ginobili needs a pep talk. The Spurs super sub played eight seconds in the fourth quarter of a home loss to Boston and was nearly as invisible against Denver, missing all three of his shots in the final period. "I'm lacking a lot of stuff, mainly confidence," Ginobili told reporters. "I'm still hesitating, doing things I don't usually do -- passing up shots or not attacking the rim as hard. Maybe I'm thinking too hard, or worried because I already missed six games. I really don't know."
15 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 15
How about a little balance in Sacto? The Kings have been lethal at home (8-3, 108.5 points per game) but anemic on the road (1-7, 99.9 ppg). That doesn't bode well for next week or so when the Kings travel to New Orleans, San Antonio and Portland. Maybe a little more Beno Udrih is in order. In the last five games, Udrih is shooting 65.8 percent (25-38 FG) from the field.
16 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 17
The Clippers' goal: have a winning record by the time Blake Griffin gets back in the lineup. They inched toward that with a win over Indy last week but face stiff home dates with Orlando and the Spurs this week. "We'd be scary if we keep playing the way we are and get the No. 1 pick back and get him into the flow of things," Al Thornton told the L.A. Times. "It could be on the up and up."
17 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 18
Two players who have benefitted most from Stephen Jackson's presence: Raymond Felton, who can share some of the playmaking duties with Jackson (3.5 assists), and Gerald Wallace, who finally has some help defending top wing players. "He's exactly what we needed," said Felton, who has averaged 16 points, 5.1 assists and 2 steals a night in his last five games. "He's done so much for this team."
18 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 22
The Grizzlies have been getting after the glass this season, as they showed in taking care of Minnesota on the road before thrashing the Mavs by 16 Friday. After finishing 30th in the league in total boards last season, Memphis has moved up to 11th and their rebounding differential (plus-4.4) is the second best in the NBA. Marc Gasol (9.7) and Zach Randolph (9.7) are league's the second-best rebounding tandem.
19 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 16
The Bucks' freefall continued with three straight losses last week (and seven of eight overall), and Scott Skiles is starting to see some quit in his team. "We've got to become much more hardened from a competitive standpoint," Skiles said. "We compete when things are going way, and when they stop going our way, we don't. It doesn't get any easier with matchups against Boston, Portland, the Lakers and Cleveland looming over the next two weeks.
20 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 22
It could be worse. After getting nipped at home by Washington and surrendering 146 points to Atlanta, the Raps rebounded with road wins over the Wizards and Bulls. A little depth has helped: Toronto's bench scored 48 points against Chicago.
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