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NBA Power Rankings: Cavaliers shoot back into top 10, Pistons sputter out

It's been awhile since we've heard about the coaching deficiencies of David Blatt. No rumbles about a feud between the Cavaliers head coach and LeBron James. No talks of player mutinies, behind-the-back timeouts or people within the locker room losing faith.

Victories tend to do that. After losing six straight games and seeing their season toe rock bottom, the Cavaliers have responded by winning six in a row, defeating the Clippers, Bulls and Thunder along the way. The Cavs lead the NBA in net rating (16) and offensive efficiency (119 points per 100 possessions) over that span. LeBron has been dominant and decisive, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are playing their semi-supporting roles to perfection and the newcomers (Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert) have become immediate critical contributors. 

Things are still far from perfect in Cleveland despite that rosy picture. Even during the team's six-game winning streak the Cavs' defense ranks just No. 17 in the league. And despite the offensive success and the clearer definition of roles, the team ranked dead last in assist percentage (51.2). 

But there are plenty of reasons to believe the Cavs have turned the corner. Half a season isn't a ludicrous amount of time for a new Big Three to mesh -- particularly one with two-thirds completely green to winning  -- and there have been peripheral additions as well. A learning curve is to be expected with so many new pieces in place, even if it isn't always tolerated when the team is losing.

So enjoy the respite, Blatt. The Cavaliers are winning games, the national media is focused on deflated footballs and you're free to coach your incredibly talented team and try to mold them into a contender in peace.

Or at least until the next losing streak.

Here's where all 30 teams stand in this week's NBA Power Rankings.

(All stats and records through Jan. 25).

1. Atlanta Hawks

PREVIOUS: 1

RECORD: 37-8 (4-0)

How many Hawks will make the All-Star team? Paul Millsap is close to a lock, Jeff Teague might be the most overlooked playing in the voting process and Kyle Korver is shooting a higher percentage from three-point range than Dwight Howard is from the line. With Mike Budenholzer coaching -- and Al Horford also worthy of consideration -- I’m putting the over/under at 2.

2. Golden State Warriors

PREVIOUS: 2

RECORD: 36-6 (4-0)

James Harden probably didn’t even think Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter was that good. For the rest of us, it was one of the most incredible shooting displays in NBA history. Klay scored 31 points his next time out and could do collateral damage to Stephen Curry’s MVP campaign with a blazing second half.

3. Memphis Grizzlies

PREVIOUS: 3

RECORD: 31-12 (2-1)

The Grizzlies are 6-2 since Zach Randolph returned from injury. Z-Bo has been as dominant as ever in the interior, averaging 18.8 points and 13.9 rebounds while shooting 57.8 percent. He's the closest thing the NBA has to Beast Mode. 

4. Houston Rockets

PREVIOUS: 5

RECORD: 31-14 (3-1)

The most explosive offensive player in the game and one of the league’s best defenses make for a formidable duo. Hey, this Daryl Morey guy might know what he's doing.

5. San Antonio Spurs

PREVIOUS: 4

RECORD: 29-17 (2-1)

Losses like San Antonio’s blowout at Chicago almost seem like a rite of passage for a Popovich team. Everything has to go wrong at least once a year so he can skewer the troops. Said Pop after the 23-point roasting: “I thought, as a group, they were mentally and physically humiliated.” Here comes the 10-game winning streak.

6. Portland Trail Blazers

PREVIOUS: 6

RECORD: 32-13 (2-2)

LaMarcus Aldridge says he isn’t “into the rah-rah story,” but he’s deserving of one. With a heavily wrapped left thumb, one that was supposed to sideline him 6-to-8 weeks, Aldridge mustered 26 points and nine rebounds in a win over the Wizards. The Blazers star was No. 2 in Ben Golliver’s midseason MVP ballot last week and will receive even more recognition if he can continue to play at high level through injury.

7. Los Angeles Clippers

PREVIOUS: 10

RECORD: 30-14 (3-0)

With the league's best offense, the Clippers don’t need to be elite defensively to be dominant. They’re 22-2 when holding opponents to 100 points or less.

8. Washington Wizards

PREVIOUS: 7

RECORD: 30-15 (2-2)

John Wall has expanded his dominance to the defensive end this season. His next quest should be to become an elite closer. Wall is averaging fewer fourth-quarter points (3.6) than Rasual Butler (4.2) and ranks No. 18 in the league in clutch points per game.

9. Dallas Mavericks

PREVIOUS: 8

RECORD: 30-15 (2-2)

Rajon Rondo might be a detriment to Dallas’ offense (106.3 points per 100 possessions on the court vs. 114.6 off it), but he’s just as impactful in a positive manner on the team’s defense (98.5 vs. 108.0)

10. Cleveland Cavaliers

PREVIOUS: 17

RECORD: 25-20 (4-0)

Six straight wins after six straight losses is a good way to right your season. This team might have needed reinforcements more than we realized. Timofey Mozgov will be worth the two first-round picks if he's able to continue his production and the Cavs keep winning.

11. Phoenix Suns

PREVIOUS: 11

RECORD: 26-20 (2-2)

I picked the Suns as my team to watch in the second half in SI.com’s midseason awards, but they won’t have much of a chance if Goran Dragic continues to play like this. The Suns guard scored a season-low two points in a loss to the Rockets.

12. Chicago Bulls

PREVIOUS: 9

RECORD: 29-17 (2-2)

The Bulls have looked bunk for the better part of the last three weeks, going 4-7 and letting their frustrations seep deep. This is a team in desperate need of the All-Star break and a chance to clear their heads. Instead, a six-game road trip awaits.

13. New Orleans Pelicans

PREVIOUS: 15

RECORD: 23-21 (3-1)

After looking ragged without him, the Pels have been unsurprisingly rejuvenated with Anthony Davis back in the lineup, winning three straight. New Orleans remains a thorn in Oklahoma City’s side as it fights for a playoff berth.

14. Toronto Raptors

PREVIOUS: 14

RECORD: 29-15 (3-1)

The Raptors haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Dec. 27, going 0-5 in such matchups since then. Toronto’s only wins have come against the shorthanded (Pistons, Bucks) and the perpetually shorthanded (76ers, Celtics).

15. Oklahoma City Thunder

PREVIOUS: 12

RECORD: 22-22 (2-2)

We’re waiting for Oklahoma City to rip off a lengthy winning streak and jump into the playoff conversation, but this team continues to befuddle with its streaky play. The Thunder still have plenty of time to make up ground, but they're putting unnecessary pressure on themselves by dragging this out.