NBA Power Rankings: Week 9

It is holiday time and that means the final NBA Power Rankings for 2012.

Who will finish the calendar year as the top ranked team?

Let’s not waste any time and find out.

Dec 19, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Orleans Hornets forward Anthony Davis (23) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers center Ryan Hollins (15) at the Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Hornets 93-77. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

30. Charlotte Bobcats (7-21): Sixteen straight losses and counting for the woeful Bobcats. Last Week’s Ranking-30

29. Washington Wizards (3-23): The Wizards have lost eight in a row and their leading scorer Jordan Crawford is shooting under 40 percent on the season. That should tell you all you need to know about the hapless Wizards. Last Week’s Ranking-28

28. New Orleans Hornets (6-22): New Orleans has won only one of their past 12 and has the second worst offense in the NBA, averaging only 91.2 points per game. Last Week’s Ranking-29

27. Sacramento Kings (9-19): They have some talent but DeMarcus Cousins and company have once again turned this team into a sideshow comedy act. Last Week’s Ranking-25

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-23): The Cavs are only 3-6 since Kyrie Irving’s return and have lost by double-digits in four of those. Last Week’s Ranking-27

25. Detroit Pistons (9-22): Andre Drummond is coming into his own, posting double-double in two of Detroit’s past three games. Other than that the Pistons are going nowhere fast so I would look for young guys like Drummond to start getting more minutes. Last Week’s Ranking-26

24. Phoenix Suns (11-18): After a tough loss to the Knicks, the Suns are back on a three-game skid and no one on this team is averaging more than 14.1 points per game (Goran Dragic). Last Week’s Ranking-18

23. Toronto Raptors (9-20): The Raptors are just hard to watch and there isn’t much to get excited about this team right now, but they have split their last 10 games. Last Week’s Ranking-24

22. Dallas Mavericks (12-17): Dirk Nowitzki is back but the Mavs have won only three of their past 10. The Mavs will be better with Dirk, but how much better? Last Week’s Ranking-19

Dec 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday (11) shoots a layup during the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Hawks 99-80. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

21. Orlando Magic (12-16): It has been hard to get a read on this Magic team all season. They have beaten some good teams, but lost to Toronto and New Orleans this week. Last Week’s Ranking-17

20. Philadelphia 76ers (14-15): The Sixers lost all four games without Jrue Holiday in the lineup, but while they have won 2-of-3 with him back, this team still has its share of problems. Last Week’s Ranking-23

19. Brooklyn Nets (14-14): Deron Williams has been awful and got his second coach killed in his career. Had Williams looked in the mirror and played better, Avery Johnson may still have a job. It has been Williams who is a big reason why the Nets have lost 11-of-14. A new coach won’t change that around unless he plays better. Last Week’s Ranking-20

18. Utah Jazz (15-15): The Jazz have split their past 10 and now it seems like they are a team destined to spend the season around the .500 mark. They will stay there unless they start shooting the ball better, which has been their weakness in their losses. Last Week’s Ranking-10

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-13): Minnesota has lost 4-of-5, but those losses came to the Knicks, Heat and Rockets. They were in each of those games and also managed to put an end to the Thunder’s win streak. This team just needs to get healthy. Last Week’s Ranking-13

16. Portland Trail Blazers (14-13): LaMarcus Aldridge has picked things up and the Blazers have been red hot because of it, winning 8-of-11 games in the month of December. Last Week’s Ranking-22

December 22, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12), shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24), and small forward Metta World Peace (15) walk back onto the court during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena. The Lakers defeated the Warriors 118-115 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

15. Boston Celtics (14-14): It is kind of late in the season for this Celtics team to be still sitting at .500, but they are a team that does nothing particularly well. I keep waiting for them to get hot, but maybe they never will. Last Week’s Ranking-16

14. Los Angeles Lakers (14-15): Kobe Bryant has scored 29 or more points in 13 straight games and leads the NBA in scoring. With Steve Nash and Pau Gasol back, the Lakers had won five in a row before getting thumped by Denver. Don’t look now but the Lakers are starting to roll. Last Week’s Ranking-21

13. Milwaukee Bucks (15-12): The Bucks have won 7-of-10 and are starting to make people pay attention to them. Last Week’s Ranking-14

12. Chicago Bulls (15-12): The Bulls just went through a rough stretch of their schedule and came away 5-4 through it. Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls could hang in there and steal home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Last Week’s Ranking-9

11. Denver Nuggets (16-14): The Nuggets have won 6-of-10 and looked very impressive in beating the Lakers. They are starting to come into their own and would be even better if they could tighten up the defense. They are 26th in the NBA in points allowed, surrendering 101.2 per contest. They simply can’t outscore teams every night. Last Week’s Ranking-12

10. Indiana Pacers (16-12): On one hand, the Pacers play the best defense in the league, allowing only 89.9 points per game. On the other hand, they haven’t beaten any good teams all season. Last Week’s Ranking-11

9. Atlanta Hawks (17-9): The Hawks have won only five of their past nine, but Josh Smith, Al Horford and Lou Williams have all been playing great and the hawks show no signs of slowing down. Last Week’s Ranking-8

Dec 26, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) reacts to a call against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter at Target Center. Rockets won 87-84. Mandatory Credit: Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

8. Memphis Grizzlies (18-8): The Grizzlies take a huge drop after going only 6-6 in the month of December. Last Week’s Ranking-5

7. Houston Rockets (16-12): The Rockets have won their last five and 7-of-8 overall. In addition, they are the highest scoring team at 105.3 points per game. A lot of that has to do with their backcourt of James Harden and the much-improved Jeremy Lin, who has been shooting 55 percent from the floor during the Rockets streak. Last Week’s Ranking-15

6. Golden State Warriors (19-10): The Warriors have gone 10-4 in December and have a ton of weapons to keep it going. But the next three weeks their schedule is brutal so we will find out more about Mark Jackson’s team soon. Last Week’s Ranking-7

5. New York Knicks (21-8): The Knicks have split their past six games and have a banged up Carmelo Anthony. They also have point guard Raymond Felton on the shelf for 4-6 weeks, so their depth will be tested. Last Week’s Ranking-3

4. San Antonio Spurs (22-8): They get it done at both ends of the floor, ranking as the fourth-best offensive team and fifth-best defensive team in terms of efficiency. After losing 4-of-5, the Spurs have reeled off three wins in a row. Last Week’s Ranking-6

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (22-6): They saw their 12-game win streak come to an end by losing two in a row and they needed overtime to beat the Mavs, but Russell Westbrook outscored the Mavericks by himself in the extra period and got the Thunder back on track. Last Week’s Ranking- 1

2. Miami Heat (20-6): Remember when the Heat didn’t seem interested in the regular season? They still may not be, but they have won 8-of-9 and are in late season form. Last Week’s Ranking-4

1. Los Angeles Clippers (23-6): The Clippers are the NBA’s best road team (9-3) and have the league’s best point differential (+10.3 per game). In addition they may be the NBA’s deepest as they have been getting production from everyone. Their 15 consecutive wins is the 10th longest win streak of all time. Last Week’s Ranking-2

Biggest Climber: Houston (+8)

Biggest Faller: Utah (-8)

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Topics: Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Power Rankings, New York Knicks

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