By Chris Mannix
November 30, 2009
NBA Power Rankings
21 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 20
The Hornets continue to tread water as they await Chris Paul's return to the lineup in December. They have won four of their last six without CP3 in the lineup and are looking at a friendly early December schedule: after Tuesday's showdown with the Lakers, New Orleans has a home-and-home with Minnesota and home dates with Sacramento and New York.
22 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 17
It's bad enough that the Raptors -- who were on the receiving end of blowout losses to Charlotte, Boston and Phoenix last week -- are terrible. But do they have to be soft, too? Paul Pierce's showing up of Chris Bosh last week drew little response from the players, a fact that didn't escape the head coach. "I didn't realize until I watched it on tape that we had backed off as much as we did," Jay Triano told reporters. "I think if I was Chris I would confront my teammates."
23 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 26
Is there competition for the NBA's top Gasol? Big brother Pau still has the edge, but Marc has come on strong lately. The grizzly Grizzly is averaging a double-double (16.1 points, 10.4 rebounds) and has scored in double figures in all but one game this season. He seems to be the new face of the franchise, too: The Grizz will distribute 3,000 Gasol jersey T-shirts before their Dec. 4 game against Dallas, a marketing event originally planned for Allen Iverson.
24 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 21
Ben Gordon. Tayshaun Prince. Rip Hamilton. The Pistons locker room is starting to look like a medical ward. Charlie Villanueva joined the walking wounded when he broke his nose on Ben Wallace's hip. A banged-up Villanueva won't help a Detroit team that has lost seven of its last eight games.
25 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 23
The Dubs looked to have some momentum after their six-man squad upset the Mavericks in Dallas last week. Then a 14-point loss at San Antonio and a 33-point home drubbing by the Lakers sent them crashing back to earth. You can't blame Don Nelson (entirely) for the beatings, either: Nellie has missed the last three games with pneumonia. "I think we're capable of winning games," Corey Maggette told the San Jose Mercury News. "We just need to continue to play the right way." Even that may not be enough, though, in a week that will see the Warriors face the Nuggets, Rockets and Magic.
26 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 27
Uh, oh -- the über confident Gilbert Arenas says he is starting to lose his. With his relationship with Flip Saunders uncertain, Arenas is starting to question his ability to function in the Wizards offense. "[Saunders] keeps telling me to be aggressive, but I don't know. I haven't been that guy in two years. So I'm just trying to find my way that I'm comfortable again and getting the trust of the team," Arenas told reporters. "Right now, I don't know if these guys trust me to take 10 straight shots. I don't know if I trust myself to take 10 straight shots."
27 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 19
The Sixers don't have much to lose by signing Allen Iverson. Philly has lost six straight and are drawing 11,965 fans a night, the second sparsest home crowd in the league. To that end, a source told on Sunday that Iverson was still under consideration to be signed as a replacement for injured guard Lou Williams, out for the next two months with a broken jaw.
28 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 29
Kurt Rambis has two more wins than Lawrence Frank this season but don't expect him to meet the same fate as the Nets coach this season. Rambis still has the full support of the front office as the Wolves attempt to reconstruct the franchise. A win over Denver on Sunday certainly helps. "There's nothing like a winning locker room," Rambis said after the game. "There's a lot of relief in there. They're already talking about practice tomorrow."
29 New York Knicks
Last Week: 28
The Knicks have more holes than a mesh net but one stands out larger than the others: point guard. Chris Duhon's 5-for-6 shooting performance against Orlando on Sunday was the first time he has shot better than 45 percent all season. And after a hot start rookie Toney Douglas has been on the bench for the last two games. Allen Iverson doesn't work for this team ... why?
30 New Jersey Nets
Last Week: 30
Leave it to Stan Van Gundy to accurately sum up the Nets situation. "That's probably as little talent as I've seen somebody put on the floor in a long time," Van Gundy said. "New Jersey's front office expected to win. Why they expected that, I have no idea." Now minus the fired Lawrence Frank, the Nets will try to avoid an NBA-record 18th straight loss against the Mavericks on Wednesday.
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