Where's Brooklyn at? Moving up these Power Rankings

Monday January 27th, 2014

There's a new, popular trend in Brooklyn and it has nothing to do with raw foods, Indie music or ironic facial hair.

It's a little something called "winning" -- and it's all the rage with the Nets these days.

After a dismal start, the revitalized Nets are 10-1 in 2014. Did the players make a team-wide New Year's resolution to start playing defense? It appears so. Brooklyn ranks fourth in defensive efficiency since Jan. 1 after ranking No. 28 before then. The Nets have held nine of their last 11 opponents under 100 points, beating the likes of the Thunder, Heat and Warriors.

Brooklyn's recent success is nothing like the team envisioned when it came together last offseason, but the Nets will take it nonetheless. With All-Star center Brook Lopez out for the season, the Nets have embraced small ball, starting Kevin Garnett and four perimeter players in eight of their last nine games. With the new-look lineup performing well, the Nets' $18 million point guard, Deron Williams, has come off the bench behind journeyman Shaun Livingston in four consecutive games since missing five games with an ankle injury.

But, hey, why mess with a winning recipe, no matter how bizarre the ingredients are? With big contributions from players like Livingston, Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson, the Nets are finding a way to salvage their once-lost season.

The Nets move up five spots this week, to No. 12. Several other teams once thought to be in critical condition are also showing life again, including the Grizzlies (who rise to No. 8), Bulls (No. 14) and Pelicans (No. 19). The Thunder, meanwhile, have climbed all the way to the top after a 4-0 week that extended their winning streak to seven.

Here's where all 30 teams stand in SI.com's NBA Power Rankings. (All statistics and records are through Jan. 26.)

NBA Power Rankings
1 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 5
Since: 4-0
The hottest player in the league is fueling the hottest team. Kevin Durant has scored at least 30 points in 10 consecutive games (excluding the one he missed in Boston on Friday) and is shooting a genuinely unfair 65.4 percent over his last five. With a permanent green light and a red-hot hand, Durant has become must-see TV and the NBA's most unstoppable force.
2 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 1
Since: 2-2
Whether it's fatigue, the road or just good competition, the Pacers have suffered their first lull since early December. Roy Hibbert fouled out in both defeats last week and contributed just 11 points combined in the losses to Phoenix and Denver.
3 Miami Heat
Last Week: 4
Since: 3-1
Miami Heat (32-12)
Greg Oden has played in three straight games and logged a season-high 13 minutes in Sunday's blowout win over San Antonio. That's one small step for Oden and one giant leap for the Heat. Or something. You know what I mean.
4 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 2
Since: 2-3
The Blazers lost all three tough road tests last week, falling at Oklahoma City, Houston and Golden State. They managed a season-low 88 points against the Warriors on Sunday and were held to 33.7 percent shooting, their first time under 40 percent this season.
5 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 7
Since: 3-1
When Jamal Crawford is on, he's one of the top offensive players in the league. He dropped a season-high 37 points and added 11 assists off the bench in Saturday's win over the Raptors, essentially canceling out Terrence Ross' once-in-a-lifetime 51-point performance.
6 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 3
Since: 1-2
The story of the season for San Antonio has been its inability to beat elite teams. Recent losses to the Blazers, Thunder and Heat don't do anything to improve that reputation. Maybe the Spurs will flip the switch in the playoffs, but their struggles against top clubs are becoming cause for concern.
7 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 8
Since: 2-2
The combination of the All-Star ballot's new format and his declining popularity caught up with Dwight Howard, leaving him out of the midseason showcase's starting lineup for the first time since 2007. But Howard's play this season has done nothing to warrant the exclusion, as he has posted gaudy numbers nearly identical to his career averages.
8 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 10
Since: 2-1
The Grizz showed plenty of grit by rebounding from a loss to the Pelicans with back-to-back wins over the Rockets, improving to 5-1 since Marc Gasol returned. Memphis plays six of its next eight games on the road as it seeks to continue to gain ground in the playoff race.
9 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 9
Since: 2-2
The Mavs may have already made their big addition for the stretch run before the trade deadline. Devin Harris, who made his season debut Jan. 18 in his return from toe surgery, scored 14 points in back-to-back games off the bench last week. The former All-Star could be a valuable, versatile third guard behind Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon.
10 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 11
Since: 2-1
Phoenix Suns (25-18)
The Suns have had plenty of surprises this season, but Markieff Morris might be the biggest one of all. He scored 27 points in Sunday's victory at Cleveland, the 10th time he's had at least 20 off the bench this season. Phoenix is 8-2 in those games.
11 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 6
Since: 1-2
The Warriors snapped a three-game home losing streak against Portland behind their defense and Stephen Curry, who recorded his 12th 30-point performance of the season. Golden State will play six of its final eight games before the All-Star break at Oracle Arena.
12 Brooklyn Nets
Last Week: 17
Since: 4-0
Third-best team in the East? The Nets have been the best team in the NBA in 2014. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are finally looking comfortable in black and white and their team's defense is starting to produce results like the one they anchored for so many years in Boston.
13 Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 12
Since: 2-1
The Nuggets are 10-2 when scoring at least 110 points, which is becoming more of a regular occurrence. Denver is averaging 113.6 points this month -- which has included victories over Oklahoma City, Golden State and Indiana -- after averaging just 95.2 in December.
14 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 15
Since: 3-1
Doc Rivers is right: The Bulls would be "nuts" to let coach Tom Thibodeau leave. The Bulls have a roster made almost entirely out of elbow grease, yet they're 10-3 in January and averaging 96.7 points, a six-point increase since December and a number that might as well be 196.7 for a Thibs-led team, which always excels on defense.
15 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 13
Since: 2-2
Only six teams have a better record than the Raptors since they dealt Rudy Gay: the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Heat, Pacers and Blazers. Dec. 8, 2013, may very well become a Canadian national holiday at this point, as Toronto was 6-12 with Gay and is 16-9 without him.
16 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 16
Since: 2-1
Despite ranking 11th in net rating, the Wolves are still 3½ games out of a playoff spot. Their offense and defense both rank in the top 14 in efficiency, but Minnesota doesn't have a winning record -- thanks in part to its struggles in close games. With Friday's 121-120 victory over the Warriors, Minnesota improved to 1-11 in games decided by four points or fewer.
17 Atlanta Hawks
Last Week: 18
Since: 3-1
The pesky Hawks are hanging around despite losing Al Horford for the season. They've knocked off the Heat and Pacers this month and are finding creative ways to score, eclipsing 100 points in five of their last six games.
18 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 14
Since: 2-2
The Wizards let two winnable games slip through their hands last week, losing to the Celtics in overtime on a last-second layup and falling to the Jazz by three on Saturday. The latest loss prevented the Wizards from topping the .500 mark for the first time in more than four years, a milestone that seems to be taunting them at this point.
19 New Orleans Pelicans
Last Week: 25
Since: 3-1
Only eight players have averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a season, but Anthony Davis is on pace to be the ninth. He'd be joining decent company: Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Bob Lanier, Bob McAdoo and David Robinson.
20 New York Knicks
Last Week: 21
Since: 2-2
Call me crazy, but I think the Knicks can win the title if Carmelo Anthony keeps scoring 62 points per game.
21 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 20
Since: 2-2
Al Jefferson is eating up opposing front lines, averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds in the last nine games. That's a good thing for the Bobcats, who are 10-5 when Big Al scores at least 22 points.
22 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 23
Since: 1-1
Utah Jazz (15-29)
Gordon Hayward is doing his best to keep the entire state of Utah warm this January (when he's been healthy), averaging 24.8 points and shooting 59.1 percent from three-point range. Huddle 'round, Jazz fans.
23 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 19
Since: 0-4
We thought an offseason move to Detroit might liberate Josh Smith; instead, it has done the opposite. Playing out of position at small forward, Smith is shooting a career-worst 40.9 percent and averaging a career-low 1.4 blocks. Detroit's spending spree for Smith and Brandon Jennings is looking all too similar to its infamous free-agent splurge for Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in 2009.
24 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 22
Since: 1-3
The Kings aren't playing defense as much as they're witnessing offense, giving up an average of 117.6 points per 100 possessions over their last three games, all losses. They rank 28th for the season in defensive efficiency (106.7 points per 100 possessions).
25 Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: 24
Since: 1-3
That ship you see sailing in the distance is carrying some pertinent cargo: the Cavaliers' playoff chances. Cleveland is now just 1-3 on a critical five-game homestand, which wraps up Tuesday against New Orleans.
26 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 27
Since: 1-3
Evan Turner's breakout year has been lost amid Philadelphia's massive pile of losses. The fourth-year guard is averaging 18.5 points, more than five points better than his previous career high, and his shooting has improved from 41.9 percent last season to 43.8 percent this season. He could be a big addition to a team looking to make a move at the deadline.
27 Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 26
Since: 0-4
The Lakers got a front-row seat to the Carmelo Anthony Show on Sunday, but don't expect the act to leave Broadway for Hollywood anytime soon. As long as Kobe Bryant is running things in L.A. -- and the NBA continues to allow the use of just one ball during games -- there's no room for Melo on the Lakers.
28 Orlando Magic
Last Week: 28
Since: 1-3
Much to the delight of the Magic, Victor Oladipo has gotten noticeably more comfortable on offense as the season has progressed. His shooting percentage has gone up and his turnovers have declined, all while flashing glimpses of star potential.
29 Boston Celtics
Last Week: 29
Since: 1-3
Rajon Rondo's return hasn't been pretty, but wins and losses are pretty trivial at this point for the Celtics. Rondo logged 30 minutes in Sunday's loss to Brooklyn, his most in five games since returning from ACL surgery. He's averaging 6.6 points (on 29.2 percent shooting), 5.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 23.8 minutes.
30 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 30
Since: 1-2
The Bucks are last in a lot of things these days: our Power Rankings, the NBA standings, the Forbes list of the league's most valuable franchises and a host of statistical categories that have led to their demise.

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