By Chris Mannix
November 09, 2009
NBA Power Rankings
21 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 16
Utah Jazz (2-4)
They are annually one of the NBA's best home teams, so what's the deal with Saturday's loss to visiting Sacramento? Defense continues to be a problem: Utah allowed the Kings to shoot 49.3 percent from the field and score 104 points. The Jazz better correct that problem fast, because they start a four-game East coast trip on Monday that includes stops in Boston and Cleveland.
22 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 17
Despite Chris Paul's tremendous start (he is averaging 26.6 points and 9.7 assists while shooting 61.9 percent from the field and 68.4 percent from three-point range), the Hornets are in a free fall toward the bottom of the West standings. Coach Byron Scott shook up the lineup on Sunday by starting Devin Brown at shooting guard and putting Morris Peterson on the inactive list, but the Hornets were blown out by the Lakers.
23 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 27
Winners of three in a row after an 0-4 start, the Clippers have a favorable week ahead with home dates against New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Toronto. They can run the table if starting center Chris Kaman keeps up his current play. After a forgettable, injury-plagued '08-09 season, Kaman is averaging 23.0 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
24 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 25
They have finally found a player capable of protecting the paint. Second-year center Roy Hibbert has five straight double-doubles, and he swatted five shots in Indiana's win over Washington, helping to hold the Wizards to 39 percent shooting. "I feel like we're turning the corner defensively," guard Dahntay Jones told the Indianapolis Star. "We're trusting each other and Roy is doing a good job controlling the paint."
25 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 28
Tyreke Evans has said that if you put the ball in his hands, good things happen. He may be right. The powerful Evans scored 32 points (including 16-of-19 from the free-throw line) and dished out seven assists in the victory at Utah. He followed that up with 23 points and eight rebounds against the Warriors as Sacramento won its first two games without Kevin Martin (wrist surgery). "Sometimes we just drop our mouths at some of the plays he makes," coach Paul Westphal told reporters. "He is a very special player."
26 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 26
Maybe a five-game road trip (which starts on Wednesday) is just what the Warriors need to come together. Or maybe an Eastern swing that ends with games at Cleveland and Boston will lead to Don Nelson's trying to cut all of his players. Stephen Jackson's agent is the latest to go after Nelson, telling ESPN that "no one trusts" the veteran coach.
27 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 20
Surprise! The Allen Iverson experiment could be over in Memphis. After scoring 37 points in three games off the bench, the disgruntled guard has left the team for personal reasons and there is no word when (if?) he will return. That could be good news for the Grizzlies, who have dropped five straight and begin their week with back-to-back games with Portland and Houston.
28 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 24
It's tough to find silver linings in a six-game losing streak, but the Wolves may have one in center Nathan Jawai. The 6-foot-10, 280-pound Jawai, a 2008 second-round pick, scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds in a loss to Portland. With Kevin Love (broken hand) still sidelined, Jawai should get plenty of opportunities to prove he can play with Al Jefferson.
29 New York Knicks
Last Week: 30
First the Knicks give away a game to Indiana, which had more turnovers (22) than assists (15). Then they barely show up against the Cavs, who led 40-21 after the first quarter. To cap it off, a Redd-less Bucks team pastes them in Milwaukee. If not for a week-opening victory against the Hornets, New York wouldn't have anything to be happy about. Then again, the city did put on a pretty good show for LeBron James, who came to town on the day of the Yankees' parade.
30 New Jersey Nets
Last Week: 29
As if the Nets don't have enough problems, now they have the swine flu to worry about. Chris Douglas-Roberts was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus and had to be quarantined from his teammates. Douglas-Roberts, a starter at small forward in his second season, is the team's second-leading scorer at 15.6 points.
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