The Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets are this week’s climbers, while those sinking like stones are headlined by the Knicks.
I attended New York’s double-overtime loss to the Nuggets on Saturday night, which lasted a mere 3:04.
It was like watching a parade of ghosts from the Knicks’ recent past. On one first quarter sequence, Carmelo Anthony blew past Danilo Gallinari but was rejected at the rim by Timofey Mozgov. In transition, Gallo fed Mozgov with a long pass into the low post, and Mozgov executed a nifty touch pass to Nene for a dunk. Nene, you may recall, was traded by the Knicks on draft night several years back along with Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson for Antonio McDyess.
Then, the guy who kept killing the Knicks in the second half and two overtimes was Al Harrington, who was jettisoned in one of the cap-clearing deals that gave New York all that cap space that was supposed to produce a contender (Hey, Mike D’Antoni himself used that word a mere three weeks ago.)
Unfortunately (or fortunately if your name is D’Antoni), owner James Dolan and superfan Spike Lee were not in the house. Perhaps they were in Montana, or in Newport Beach, recruiting a certain someone. Or maybe they just had the blues, or were playing the blues.
The truly despicable thing is that the Knicks are a playoff team right now, eighth in the East. The generally sad state of things east of the Mississippi River is reflected below.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED vs IND|
C.J. Watson and Omer Asik were starters, and Mike James was the key cog off the bench in latest win vs. Bobcats. If you doubted their depth, a strong week without Derrick Rose should have changed your mind. Coaches always say defense and rebounding wins championships. Bulls are No. 1 in the NBA in both.
|LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI at GS|
Loss to Wizards should cost them a spot, right? Nah. But nominations are now closed for Aberration Game of the Season. After playing Pistons on Monday, won’t see another East opponent until Feb. 22. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins have recorded at least one block apiece in each of the Thunder’s 16 games. OKC is the only team with two players with a block in every game.
|LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs NY|
We weren’t too harsh on them for their 0-3 Western trip, so we’ll hold back again and resist the urge to bump them ahead of the Thunder despite beating Spurs by 22, Lakers by 11 and Sixers by 21 despite missing Dwyane Wade. Serious style points for those alternate unis from Saturday night (magenta has replaced pink when Heat salute ABA Floridians). LBJ (.572) now up to 4th in FG pct, right behind Dwight.
|LAST WEEK: 4-1 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: WED at SAC|
Beat the Kings, and that’ll be a 5-0 road trip. Danilo Gallinari went for a career high 37 at MSG on Saturday night, and the Carmelo Anthony trade never looked worse for the Knicks. Timofey Mozgov had 3 dunks in first 5 minutes. Al Harrington was a closer. Imagine if they still had J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler? Lead NBA in assists and 2nd in scoring.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE at IND|
Clippers as fallback for Dwight Howard, first reported here, has been confirmed by @KBergCBS. So shame on those who doubted me. Still, it is a fallback option, nothing more. Big week for Dwight upcoming with two games against Boston, which used to have a center who defended D12 better than anyone. Shame on you, Danny Ainge. Real test this week is second night of road back-to-back, at Pacers.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT vs. DET|
Reality check with losses to Nuggets (in OT) and Heat (by 21)? Perhaps. But an easy week awaits them with four home games against bad team, with a very difficult week to follow. It includes rematch vs. Miami. FYI: LBJ is 16-1 career vs. Andre Iguodala. In Saturday night beatdown, Heat scored 26 more than Philly had been allowing (87). At 99.2 ppg, 76ers still third in the NBA in scoring.
|LAST WEEK: 1-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SUN at LAL|
Doubt we shall see them this high in the rankings the rest of the season, but then again, they have been proving doubters wrong. Very tough week schedule-wise: Lakers, Magic, Bulls, Celtics, then Magic again next Sunday (four of those are on road). Of their 10 wins, only one has come vs. a plus-.500 team — Atlanta. Ranked top 5 in rebs, FT pct. 3-pt pct, blocks.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at LAL|
Can’t drop ‘em too far after drooling over them a week ago when I went all mea culpa, especially with Chris Paul having missed four straight games. Will the buzz at Staples be as strong Wednesday night as it was two weekends ago? Bloom is off the Lakers, too, ya know. Ranked 29th in FT pct. D.Howard skews the No. 30 team, Orlando. He has 96 misses. Clips have 120.
|LAST WEEK: 4-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU at LAC|
This week’s big movers thanks to their NBA-high (tied with Houston) six-game winning streak, highlighted by 16-point win vs. Bulls. Four straight on road this week, but all winnable. 128 points vs. Sacto was 2nd-highest total by any NBA team this season. Mike Conley is blossoming, and Marresse Speights acquisition may have been best under-the-radar positive deal of the season.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI at DAL|
Started 1-3. Have gone 9-2 since, with only losses to Lakers (in OT) and Mavericks (by 3). Ty Corbin speeding past Frank Vogel for lead in Coach of the Year race. Paul Millsap looking like an All-Star, but will he be this year’s LaMarcus Aldridge?
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at SA|
Number of quality wins has now jumped to 3, thanks to victory over Portland. Next 5 are on the road, but 4 look winnable. Kudos to Larry Drew for not letting the Al Horford injury devastate them mentally, and for challenging team by calling them quitters after loss to 76ers. When Joe Johnson scores 21 or more, they are 8-0.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED vs LAC|
The last time they scored 100 points in a game was Jan. 3, and we learned the relative merits of Andrew Bynum vs. Dwight Howard, didn’t we? If Kobe and LeBron are going to keep running this hot and cold from week to week, somebody else is going to rise up and enter the MVP debate.
|LAST WEEK: 4-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON at MIN|
Kevin Martin went into NOLA and dropped 27 first-half points, showing Hornets fans what they missed out on when David Stern vetoed the Chris Paul trade. Winners of six in a row entering this week, and have 2 test games vs. Wolves in next 8 days. The NBA’s No. 1 free throw shooting team, they have only 49 misses combined, 16 of which have come from Chandler Parsons and seldom-used Jordan Hill and Terrence Williams.
|LAST WEEK: 2-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI at MIN|
Overtime win at Orlando salvaged what otherwise would have been a lost week. Tim Duncan got a night off as they played their fourth in five nights, but Pop needs to be careful. The West is 11 teams deep, whereas the East is six teams deep. Four of next five are on the road, where Spurs are 1-6.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI vs UTA|
Dirk Nowitzki, out with a sore knee, has averaged at last 20 points for 11 straight seasons. He is at 17.5 this season, with lowest FG pct (.456) and 3-point percent (23.5) since his rookie season. Second-leading scorer is Jason Terry at 13.8, and he doesn’t start. Watch for a Shawn Marion trade, the key to getting both D12 and DWill.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE vs MEM|
Six-game road trip is finally over, and next Eastern Conference road game isn’t until March 9. This is the week (contract extension deadline) when we’ll see if they value Nicolas Batum as much as they claim when other teams come calling. I’ll say this again: It is unfair how loaded the West is compared to the East.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI vs. SA|
If you saw their stunning comeback win Friday vs. Clippers, you now understand why I find them the most compelling team to watch in the West. Ran out of gas the next night at Utah, but all in all a superb week — even if Kevin Love’s double-double streak for this season ended at 15. If Wolves don’t give him a fifth year, they are idiots.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs. NY|
This is the part of the power rankings where I start to complain about the number of bad teams. These guys lost their last two by 27 to the Hawks and 39 to the Bulls, yet they are ranked higher than NY and Boston. ROY is a two-man race now between Kyrie and Ricky.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON at DAL|
Beat the Mavericks on Monday, and a road trip that began 0-2 could finish 3-2. Steve Nash leads the league in assists. Yes, you’ve read that before. Many times. He turns 38 in two weeks. In a word: Ageless.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: MON vs ATL|
Who pissed off Matt Winick? They’ve played 9 of 15 on the road, and this week they get the Heat, Hawks, Rockets, Bulls and Lakers. Brandon Jennings shooting .464 after hitting at a 39 percent clip last season. He is scoring more than any guard aside from Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook and Monta Ellis, and only 0.3 ppg behind Dwight Howard.
|LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE vs. CHA|
No way Mike D’Antoni survives if they lose at Charlotte. Only a fair chance he survives if they lose the next night at Cleveland. Amare Stoudemire looks utterly lost and disinterested. Now Josh Harrellson, a lone bright light, is out with a fractured wrist. Atrocious.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SUN at WAS|
When Danny Ainge said he’ll wait a month before considering breaking up the team, I did not believe him. I never believe him. In weak East, all they have to do is catch Knicks or Cavs to be a hairy playoff opponent for Chicago or Miami in first round.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED vs POR|
Ugly record, but quality wins over Spurs and Pacers last week get them the nod a notch above their NoCal neighbors.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON vs MEM|
Lost to the Nets despite shooting 51.4 percent to finish 2-2 on what could have been a 4-0 Eastern road trip. Home loss to Indiana was a sour beginning to a six-game homestand.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON at LAC|
Every week, they move up a wee bit. Deron Williams came out and said the Prudential Center is a cold dump. He should have seen it before they removed the rat traps and installed massive space heaters.
|LAST WEEK: 1-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs ATL|
They are going to lose all four of their games this week. Nice win over the road-weary Blazers. Other than that, I have nothing positive to say.
|LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SUN at LAC|
They are going to lose all four of their Western road games this week, then they have to fly to Jersey to finish the five-game trip in the Icebox.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: WED vs. CHA|
Even with NBA’s fewest wins, one came against the Thunder. Can double total this week, playing Charlotte twice.
|LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: TUE vs NY|
Imagine the possibilities: Can beat Knicks to cost D’Antoni his job, then play Wizards twice and Nets once before the week ends.
|LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON vs SA|
I went on the radio Friday and was asked about Hornets bright spots. It was an unenlightening interview.