By Chris Mannix
January 11, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
11 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 12
Further proof Kevin Durant is becoming a complete player: The soon-to-be-All-Star/Olympian has been a better rebounder this season. The NBA's No. 4-ranked scorer (28.7 points) leads the Thunder in rebounding (7.0), up half a board from last season.
12 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 7
The occasionally contentious relationship between Andre Miller and Nate McMillan reached its boiling point during a practice last week when the two engaged in a shouting match. "What happened, that was on me, and I apologized to the team for the way that was handled," McMillan said. "We handle things different in situations like that, and I have to control that and I didn't do that."
13 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 17
The Web headline in a recent New Orleans Times-Picayune says it all: "Words fail to describe the New Orleans Hornets' unexpected six-pack of wins." The Hornets haven't been dropping the hammer during that winning streak -- each win has come by five points or fewer -- but they will get a chance to do some real damage this week. None of the four teams New Orleans faces has a winning record.
14 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 15
The Raptors have been a better team with Jarrett Jack in the starting lineup (9-7) than Jose Calderon (9-13). Jack, one of the league's foremost iron men, who has appeared in 206 straight games, is averaging 12.9 points and 5.9 assists while shooting 51.8 percent (71-for-137) as a starter.
15 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 13
Looks like the Grizzlies' dramatic recovery from an Allen-Iverson-fueled 1-8 start is enough to earn Lionel Hollins a new deal. Owner Michael Heisley told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that a contract extension is in the works. "Lionel's proved he can coach," Heisley said. "He's connected with the players. He has them playing together and we're winning games."
16 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 14/div>
Utah Jazz (20-17)
Kyle Korver is making a compelling case for more minutes. After missing 27 games following knee surgery in October, Korver has shown little rust, connecting on 85.7 percent of his shots the last three games, and playing the entire fourth quarter in a win over Dallas. "I've got a huge lesson in patience," Korver told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I guess that's probably good for me in the long run, but I'm hoping it's over."
17 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 22
Now that's how you defend the home court. The Clips completed a four-game homestand with W's over the Trail Blazers, Lakers and Heat, and have a chance to reach .500 for the first time Tuesday at Memphis. Chris Kaman, who is playing like an All-Star, averaged 22.8 points and 11.0 rebounds in the last five games.
18 Miami Heat
Last Week: 18
Miami Heat (18-17)
The Nets may have had little use for Rafer Alston, but the Heat sure do. Cut by New Jersey last week, Alston has started his first two games with Miami. He's played well, too, scoring 10 points and dishing out four assists in a win over Phoenix. "He made us get out in the open court early and push," Dwyane Wade said. "I haven't seen that in a while."
19 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 19
Is Gerald Wallace an All-Star? He's making a compelling case. The last original Bobcat is averaging 18.1 points and a career-high 11.1 rebounds -- a startling 3.8 boards-per-game improvement from last season. "Gerald has always been an effective rebounder for his size," coach Larry Brown said, "but he's taken it to another level now."
20 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 23
A two-win week was overshadowed by another injury to shooting guard Michael Redd, who had to be helped off the court after reinjuring his surgically repaired left knee Sunday in Los Angeles. An MRI was scheduled for Monday.
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