By Chris Mannix
November 02, 2009
NBA Power Rankings
21 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: --
Three games in, the Raptors are waiting for Hedo Turkoglu to assert himself in the fourth quarter. Turkoglu vanished in the final period of Sunday's loss to his former team Orlando. "I'm trying to," Turkoglu, who averaged 5.3 points in fourth quarters last season, told Toronto's Globe and Mail. "I just have to take my time, and when my time comes, I have to be more aggressive instead of passing up shots."
22 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: --
Will the real Luol Deng please stand up? Deng followed up a team-high 17-point performance in an opening-night win against San Antonio with a four-point clunker in a loss to Boston. But two nights later, he scored 26 points in a loss to Miami. "My rhythm is starting to come back," said Deng, who missed 33 games last season. "Now I have to find my way in the offense and be patient with it."
23 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: --
The Bobcats need Tyson Chandler to shake the rust off fast. After missing the entire summer and most of the preseason recovering from ankle surgery, Chandler has more fouls (nine) than points (six) and is shooting 33.3 percent from the floor (6-of-18). "This is his exhibition season," coach Larry Brown told the Charlotte Observer. "I'm comfortable with him. We just need to figure out ways to use him. And he can't be so hard on himself."
24 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: --
If the triangle offense was tricky for Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to pick up, it must be like learning rocket science to the young Wolves (who opened with a victory against New Jersey and losses to Cleveland and Phoenix). Still, they are showing signs of learning, and have earned praise from coach Kurt Rambis. "Right now, we're learning our jobs," guard Corey Brewer told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "If we stay in games, we can win some."
25 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: --
Turnovers (a league-high 20.5 per game) are becoming a huge problem. The good news? Help is on the way in the form of first-round pick Tyler Hansbrough, who is expected to make his debut this week after sitting out with a shin injury. The bad news? Center Jeff Foster (sprained ankle) is taking his place on the injury report.
26 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: --
It didn't take coach Don Nelson long to start jerking around Anthony Randolph, did it? After playing Randolph for only 10 minutes in a season-opening loss to Houston, Nellie inserted the lanky forward into the starting lineup two nights later in a loss to Phoenix. Randolph responded with 12 points (on 2-of-9 shooting) and seven rebounds in 25 minutes. "I've got to come in ready to play, whenever he puts me in there," Randolph told FanHouse. "I'm just trying to get out there and prove myself to him."
27 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: --
To be fair, the Clippers opened the season with a murderers' row of games against the Lakers, Suns, Jazz and Mavericks. But if the Clips plan on contending for a playoff spot, they have to win some of those games this season. The schedule eases this week with games against Minnesota, Golden State and Memphis.
28 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: --
Coach Paul Westphal has taken an unconventional approach early this season. Last year's starting center, Spencer Hawes, has come off the bench in each of the first three games (Sean May and Jason Thompson are starting at the power positions), and the '08-09 starting point guard, Beno Udrih, didn't play a minute in the season opener. "You have to put a chip on your shoulder," Hawes told the Sacramento Bee. "You have to flip it and use it to motivate you."
29 New Jersey Nets
Last Week: --
Not only have the Nets opened with three consecutive defeats, but they also lost All-Star point guard Devin Harris for at least a week with a groin injury. "We're shooting for seven to 10 [days], maybe longer," Harris told reporters. "I can probably guarantee it won't be shorter." Harris' replacement, Rafer Alston, had 20 points and eight assists in Saturday's 123-104 loss to Washington.
30 New York Knicks
Last Week: --
Danilo Gallinari (22.7 points and 18-of-36 from three-point range) is good. And that's about the only positive from the Knicks' opening week. After getting routed by Miami on opening night, New York dropped back-to-back overtime games to Charlotte and Philadelphia. "We're not that good," point guard Chris Duhon told reporters. "This is our job and we have to take it seriously, and we're not doing that right now."
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