Power Rankings: Cavs hold on to top spot
Monday, Jan. 4
The Cleveland Cavaliers gave their rivals an opening by losing a home game Sunday night to one of the league's worst road teams.
None of those rivals, though, is in any condition to take advantage.
Cleveland tops the new decade's first edition of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings in spite of that rare home defeat to Charlotte as everyone in the league's elite is dealing with injuries and/or inconsistency.
Don't forget that the Cavs also swept a home-and-home with Atlanta in their last act of 2009 to ensure that they hold on to No. 1.
This is the 10th Monday of the regular season and the first time we've had a repeat No. 1 since the Los Angeles Lakers -- who finally ended a run of shaky performances by blitzing Dallas in their Sunday night appointment -- in Week 5 and Week 6.
|2009-10 Power Rankings: Week 10
|TEAM / RECORD
Last Week: 1
|For all the grief Shaq gets about his pick-and-roll D, it hasn't really hurt the Cavs yet. They're giving up the league's fewest points in the paint since bringing Shaq in, and D has fueled Cleveland's surge to No. 1.
Last Week: 3
|No one's suggesting it changed the trajectory of the Lakers' season, but they just haven't been right since the Christmas Day double whammy of that loss to the Cavs and Artest's freakish fall. Now Pau's hurt, too.
Last Week: 4
|The Magic don't exactly look like the deepest team in the league these days. They're starting to look like a team that is struggling to keep everyone happy and frustrated by its inability to keep everyone healthy.
Last Week: 2
|Injury issues have started earlier this season. The list of health worries is a lot longer than last season's, too. You're seeing why we came into the season saying Boston's vulnerabilities worry us more than Orlando's.
Last Week: 6
|This ridiculous injury plague hasn't stopped Portland from gamely winning six of seven somehow, but it's affecting the committee (of one) personally when it starts messing with our favorite Blazer and soccer bud L. Aldridge.
Last Week: 7
|This Power Rankings Monday also marks the 10-year anniversary of Cuban's agreement to buy the Mavs. We're granting an anniversary wish by pretending we didn't see that uncharacteristic road no-show in L.A.
Last Week: 5
|Brings us no joy to rough the Hawks up, but they've had two turns in the spotlight: Thanksgiving against Orlando and their home-and-home with the Cavs. The East's new darlings are 0-3 in those games.
Last Week: 8
|If Westphal isn't your COY so far, it's got to be Adelman. He's moved into Sloan territory as one of the best never to win the COY thanks to what these no-name Rockets are doing with the hardest schedule to date.
Last Week: 11
|We'll get back to the modest present soon, but the glorious past merits one more mention: San Antonio's 574 wins in the 2000s are No. 3 all-time for one decade, behind 584 for the '80s Lakers and 580 for the '80s Celts.
Last Week: 10
|We repeat: There's a reason Nash tried to temper expectations when the Suns were 14-3. He knew they had depth/size issues, which is why they were grateful to see the Lakers minus Artest and Boston sans KG/Pierce.
Last Week: 9
|Even after beating Utah without Chauncey and Melo, Denver has lost sole possession of first place in the Northwest for the first time since the opening week to a stubborn Trail Blazers team with injuries galore.
Last Week: 13
|What excites you most, OKC? Durant's seven straight 30-point games? That your nearly vet-less team inched past .500? Or how many guys it has stolen (Sefolosha, Krstic and Maynor) thanks to financial flexibility?
Last Week: 16
|If I had said before the season that all but one team in the Southwest would be at .500 or better on the first Monday in January and that the Grizz would not be the sub-.500 team, what odds would you have given?
Last Week: 12
|How stunned were we that the Jazz lost to Denver by 10 when Chauncey and Melo didn't dress? Put it this way: Utah now has three home L's by double digits compared to two in each of the past three seasons.
Last Week: 17
|The Raps showed us something by beating the Spurs. No Hedo/Calderon and still they proved momentum from the 5-0 stretch wasn't lost when they failed to steal one in Boston with Pierce, KG and Rondo all out.
Last Week: 22
|A breakthrough in Miami, then an absolute stunner in Cleveland. Larry Brown's Bobs just tripled their total of road wins in the span of a weekend and are going to make their first trip to the playoffs if this keeps up.
Last Week: 19
|The Hornets' season could hinge on this month. They're as active as anyone on the trade front and have ample opportunity to spruce up that 2-13 road record with 11 of the next 15 games away from home.
Last Week: 14
|It might be time already for Riles to challenge the whole team publicly again. The home loss Saturday to Charlotte was especially costly because the Heat have only five more home games all month. And 11 roadies.
Last Week: 15
|You can dwell on how poorly they handled the final play when Kobe got the most wide-open buzzer 3 he'll ever see. Or you can focus on how the Kings, without Tyreke, beat Denver and lost to the Lakers by a point.
Last Week: 20
|Add up David Lee's still-underrated board work, Nate Rob's fairy-tale return from exile and New York's 10-5 spell of decency and suddenly the s-l-o-w countdown to July 1 is bearable, 'cause the team is watchable.
Last Week: 19
|Kaman refuses to let Zach Randolph roll on unchallenged for the unofficial title of West Big Man Most Egregiously Omitted from the All-Star Ballot. He's up to 10 20-point, 10-rebound games after just two last season.
Last Week: 23
|Comeback Coach of the Year? No such award exists, obviously, but don't we need something after Del Negro did what no one said he could by surviving that 35-point blown lead to Sacramento and then thriving?
Last Week: 24
|Jennings knows how to get on the committee's good side. He heard Bucks fans lobbying via Twitter to break up my all-lefty backcourt by trading Redd for T-Mac's expiring deal. "THAT IS DUMB!" Jennings tweeted back.
Last Week: 28
|It's true that every team beaten in this 3-1 revival has been shorthanded. It's also true that the road rally A) accounts for Philly's best week all season and B) started when Iverson came back to play on a bad knee.
Last Week: 21
|How far away from Deeee-troit Bas-ket-ballll have these Pistons strayed? The losing streak has reached a stunning nine defeats in a row and they haven't even managed to take a second-half lead in the last six games.
Last Week: 25
|Although the Dubs couldn't build on huge back-to-back wins over Phoenix and Boston, they're finally putting proven NBA size on the floor thanks to the returns of Biedrins and Turiaf. And Monta does need the help.
Last Week: 29
|The Pacers have actually weathered brief Granger absences in the past with near-.500 ball, but that was then. Now? Indy has lost nine of its last 10 games without its All-Star, including five double-digit poundings.
Last Week: 26
|That was even more unpleasant than usual. The Wolves just missed out on a third upset of Utah when they couldn't finish off a late comeback from 17 down, then got pushed around in Indy.
Last Week: 27
|Does this sound like someone who'd protest being shipped away from this circus? Caron Butler on his blog: "Every time I was dealt [previously], I had better years with my new team than I had with my old one."
Last Week: 30
|It took a seven-game homestand and help from the snoozing Knicks, but the Nets finally found the win that kept them away from the record for most losses before a team's third W. Dallas went 2-39 in 1993-94.