The Golden State Warriors finally have a loss on their ledger, true, but they also have a new target.
Wins in their next three games against Phoenix, Milwaukee and Utah would take the Warriors to 27-1, which would give them the gaudiest record ever entering Christmas Day, just a touch better than the 27-2 mark the Boston Celtics toted into Dec. 25, 2008.
As stated last week, Golden State has opened a bigger gap on the rankings field by mid-December than any team in Committee of One history, so one defeat on a drizzly night in Milwaukee -- on the final stop of a seven-game road trip that consumed 13 days and nearly 7,500 miles -- was not going to endanger the Warriors' status at the top. It's going to take multiple losses to threaten their hold on No. 1, which doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon given that Golden State will play only five games (all at home) in a span of 17 days. The Warriors have already played 15 games on the road, second only to the Los Angeles Lakers' 17.
We'll get to the rest of the rankings, as always, via Stein Line Live, where you can also find this wrap-up piece on the Warriors' ridiculous 24-0 start before they finally incurred that first L. Thanks to the NBA wing of ESPN Stats & Info, as well as the Elias Sports Bureau, for the trusty data assistance provided to the Committee to help with these calculations. You can comment on our 1-to-30 ladder below.
1. Golden State Warriors (24-1)
Last Week: 1
The Warriors already have seven 20-turnover games after recording 11 total last season. They're down to fifth in defensive efficiency after finishing No. 1 in that category last season. Interim coach Luke Walton, in other words, might not be exaggerating when he says he sees room for improvement for Team 24-1.
2. San Antonio Spurs (20-5)
Last Week: 2
Team Happily Under The Radar, at 20-5, has matched the second-best start through 25 games in franchise history. The Spurs are unbeaten at home (12-0), No. 4 in offensive efficiency (104.7) and a runaway No. 1 in defensive efficiency (91.9), which is on course to be their lowest reading since the 2003-04 season (91.6).
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (15-7)
Last Week: 6
Iman Shumpert is back, Kyrie Irving's return nears, Cleveland's Christmas Day duel with Golden State is only 10 days away, and Kevin Love hits Boston on Tuesday for the first time since his tangle with Kelly Olynyk led to a season-ending shoulder injury as the league's No. 4 rebounder. Maybe the Cavs are getting there.
4. OKC Thunder (16-8)
Last Week: 5
The longest active win streak in the NBA suddenly belongs to OKC, with four of its five wins in a row coming since we most recently got together here. Better yet for Billy Donovan's Thunder: They've allowed just 94.3 PPG on 42 percent shooting in the past 10 games, compared to 105.2 PPG on 44.1 percent shooting in the first 14 games.
5. Toronto Raptors (16-9)
Last Week: 8
Perhaps we were too hard on the Raptors in this space last week. They've certainly responded well to the heartbreak of failing for the second time to inflict the first loss of Golden State's historic start, winning all four games since against foes mighty (Spurs) and meek (Sixers and Lakers).
6. Boston Celtics (14-10)
Last Week: 9
Friday night's double-overtime thriller against the defending champs was one of the most memorable nights of the season for the Committee, largely because the atmosphere was so good. The Celts really do have the personnel to make Stephen Curry work; imagine how feisty the evening would have been had Marcus Smart been available.
7. Charlotte Hornets (14-9)
Last Week: 10
The Hornets apparently don't agree with the notion that their presence in our top 10 for a third successive Monday is some sort of by-default fluke. Saturday's home L to Boston and the recent woes endured by Al Jefferson (injury and suspension) have been offset by some quality wins, as well as Nicolas Batum's promising start.
8. Chicago Bulls (13-8)
Last Week: 4
We keep talking about the Bulls' signature wins over the Spurs, Cavs and Thunder, but Toronto can match that same three-pack now and, along with Charlotte and Boston, sports a nightly point differential far superior to the Bulls' paltry plus-0.6 reading. Which team would you say is closer to Biggest Threat To Cleveland status?
9. Indiana Pacers (13-9)
Last Week: 7
The team defense that wowed you almost as much as Paul George's return to brilliance during Indiana's recent six-game win streak has vanished. Culminating in the home loss to Golden State in a much-hyped affair, Indy became the first team this season to allow 122-plus points in three successive games.
10. Miami Heat (13-9)
Last Week: 3
The Heat have played the fewest road games (seven) in the East, which suggests they haven't taken sufficient advantage of a home-heavy first-quarter schedule. Chris Bosh, meanwhile, finally picked it up over the weekend after a very slow start to December . . . but Hassan Whiteside is suddenly watching fourth quarters.
11. Los Angeles Clippers (14-10)
Last Week: 17
For your calendars: Monday marks the four-year anniversary of the Clippers' trade for Chris Paul. All they want to commemorate the occasion, of course, is a pain-free stretch for CP3, whose numbers -- thanks to a run of nagging ailments -- aren't what we're used to, beginning with his lowest PER (21.84) since 2006-07 (22.4).
12. Atlanta Hawks (14-11)
Last Week: 11
December is when last season's Hawks took off and posted a 14-2 record to seize control of the East. Paul Millsap is the only player in the entire league averaging at least 18.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 3.0 APG, but a near four-point dip in offensive efficiency as a team, as well as Atlanta's rebounding woes (29th in rebound rate), are taking a toll.
13. Detroit Pistons (14-11)
Last Week: 13
Our standard Andre Drummond update: Detroit's big man is the first player in the league to amass at least 400 points and 400 rebounds through the first 25 games of the season since Atlanta's Kevin Willis did so in the 1991-92 season. Even more meaningful: Drummond is at the center of the league's seventh-ranked defense.
14. Dallas Mavericks (13-11)
Last Week: 12
The Mavs are 6-0 when Dirk Nowitzki scores at least 20 points, which sparks hope in Big D that the team can actually sneak into the playoffs and thus ensure the draft pick they send to Boston in June to complete the ill-fated Rajon Rondo deal falls outside the lottery. The worry: Dallas is just 3-8 against .500-or-better teams -- worst in the West's top eight.
15. Houston Rockets (12-12)
Last Week: 18
Sixers, Knicks, Pelicans, Mavericks, Kings, Wizards, Lakers. Those are the teams Houston has toppled in this 7-2 surge back to .500, which is what stops know-it-alls like us from proclaiming the Rockets healed. Ongoing issues on D (27th overall) don't help, but J.B. Bickerstaff is starting to get a better response with some new-look lineups.
16. Utah Jazz (10-12)
Last Week: 15
All the justified fawning about how good Derrick Favors has looked -- with Favors on an early course to join Karl Malone on the short list of players in team history with a PER of 25 or better -- can't obscure the fact that the Jazz are off to a 2-6 start without the injured Rudy Gobert, who was giving them 2.6 BPG and 10.9 RPG.
17. Memphis Grizzlies (13-12)
Last Week: 14
The demotions of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen has signaled to more than one longtime Grizzlies observer that the Grit/Grind Era is at best fading away and at worst over. The rash of blowout losses Memphis has suffered inevitably leads to questions about who or what will be next to perish.
18. Orlando Magic (12-11)
Last Week: 16
After a stretch in which it won six games out of seven and allowed a mere 88.8 PPG in those six Ws, Orlando returned from an encouraging road trip to incur the third-worst home loss in franchise history, courtesy of Saturday night's 35-point smacking from Cleveland. It's fair to say, though, that the Magic are still ahead of schedule.
19. Phoenix Suns (11-14)
Last Week: 21
Tyson Chandler is back and the Suns' frustrating run of seven straight games decided by five or fewer points (3-4) has been halted. Next on the agenda: With more than 110 free-agent signees from the summer becoming trade-eligible Tuesday, stay tuned for a potential resolution to the Suns' long-running Markieff Morris drama.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (10-15)
Last Week: 25
If Greg Monroe had to endure this DeAndre Jordan detonation for the right to be the trigger man in Milwaukee's momentous victory over Golden State, I'd say that's a worthy trade. Let me just say, furthermore, how impressive those chanting Bradley Center fans in the "24-1" T-shirts were Saturday night. Brilliant!
21. Washington Wizards (10-12)
Last Week: 24
The "beginnings of a stress reaction" in Bradley Beal's lower right fibula sound like the beginnings of an absolute crisis for the Wizards. Imagine where they'd be without John Wall, who came through his own knee scare and is averaging a ridiculous 27.3 PPG, 10.9 APG and 5.4 RPG (while shooting .546 from the floor) in December.
22. New York Knicks (11-14)
Last Week: 19
After serving up 28 points in his much-hyped duel with Dirk Nowitzki, Kristaps Porzingis hit his first real NBA rough patch and managed just 17 points on 6-of-25 shooting in the next three games. Carmelo Anthony ultimately saved the Knicks in Portland, but this interaction at the rim with Damian Lillard couldn't have been fun for Zinger, either.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (10-15)
Last Week: 20
We could talk here about how C.J. McCollum continues to hang in there among the league's top 20 scorers or how Portland's recent rash of blown leads is a less-than-ideal sendoff for a long road trip. But we can't help making the conversation a little lighter this week after the release of Damian Lillard's new shoes. Gum soles? Committee approves!
24. New Orleans Pelicans (6-17)
Last Week: 22
When the Pelicans won three in a row, we thought they were on the way back. When they got Tyreke Evans back and beat Cleveland, we (again) thought they had turned the proverbial corner. Math has never been a Committee strength, but we suspect they're running out of time to rebound, even in this more-forgiving-than-expected West.
25. Sacramento Kings (9-15)
Last Week: 26
The excitement surrounding this Rajon Rondo dunk -- and his bounce-back season in general -- is justifiably replaced by shock and dismay at the specifics of the tirade he launched at veteran referee Bill Kennedy. If what Rondo is alleged to have said is corroborated, Sacramento can count itself fortunate to have lost him for only one game.
26. Brooklyn Nets (7-16)
Last Week: 28
In Brook Lopez, Brooklyn has not only a model for a Star Wars-themed bobblehead but also a player on the brink of joining Blake Griffin, Paul George, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins on the short list of players with 20-plus PPG and 8-plus RPG. We'll see how the Nets cope with a rough schedule the rest of the month before widening our lens.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-14)
Last Week: 23
Let's hope Kristaps Porzingis has smashed through his introduction to the Rookie Wall by the time Wednesday night rolls around, just in time for Karl-Anthony Towns' first MSG appearance. KAT is on pace to join Anthony Davis, Chris Webber and Shaquille O'Neal as the only 20-year-olds to average 15-plus PPG, 9-plus RPG and 2-plus BPG.
28. Denver Nuggets (9-14)
Last Week: 27
Emmanuel Mudiay has picked up an ankle injury, which strips Denver of its prized rookie when the Nuggets were already desperate to pump up the West's second-worst offense. Their consolation: Friday's comeback victory over Minnesota at home has helped keep their division rivals submerged in a 1-6 funk.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (3-21)
Last Week: 29
Tuesday night's date with Milwaukee marks the Lakers' first home game of the month after a rough 1-7 trip. Nick Young's maiden assist to Kobe Bryant got all the attention last week, but D'Angelo Russell's first back-to-back games with scoring in the 20s were surely more significant, even with his unsightly shooting.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (1-24)
Last Week: 30
The hiring of Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations has to help, but the modern-day godfather of USA Basketball couldn't be dealing with two greater extremes now. Team USA is 75-1 since he took over as managing director. His new team, after a league-leading sixth 20-point loss, is tied with the expansion Cavs of 1970-71 for the worst 25-game start ever.