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Posted: Monday November 2, 2009 1:33PM; Updated: Monday November 2, 2009 2:26PM
Chris Mannix Chris Mannix >
NBA POWER RANKINGS

NBA Power Rankings (cont.)

NBA Power Rankings
11Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: --
Back-to-back wins over Minnesota and Charlotte took Cavs fans' fingers off the panic button, but Cleveland will have to find a way to score before they move their hands away completely. Besides having to incorporate Shaq and deal with the absence of Delonte West (who missed the first three games), nothing may be slowing down the Cavs' sputtering offense (93.5 points, 22nd in the NBA) more than the loss of offensive coordinator John Kuester, who directed Cleveland to average 100.3 points last season before being hired as Pistons coach.
 
12Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: --
With a talented nucleus, the Thunder were going to contend for a playoff spot eventually. Could this be the year they do it? Maybe, if Russell Westbrook can dish more and turn the ball over less. The explosive-but-erratic Westbrook is averaging 8.3 assists (against 5.3 turnovers, worst in the NBA) through three games this season. "He's improved his game," center Nenad Krstic told The Oklahoman. "I know if I set a good screen and I'm open, I'm going to get the ball." Westbrook and the Thunder will be tested this week with games against the Lakers, Rockets and Magic.
 
13Houston Rockets
Last Week: --
Who needs Yao Ming when you have Carl Landry? The Rockets' new low-post threat pumped in 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in a win over Portland on Saturday. "He has the quickness and explosiveness to make that happen," coach Rick Adelman said. In that same victory, Trevor Ariza scored a career-high 33 points.
 
14Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: --
Lou Williams probably wishes he could bottle his performance against New York on Saturday and use it all season. In a 141-127 overtime victory, Williams tallied 27 points and 10 rebounds in a career-high 42 minutes. More important for the playmaking-starved Sixers, Williams dished out seven assists against just one turnover, raising his assist-to-turnover ratio to 7.5 to 1 for the season.
 
15Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: --
Nate McMillan stressed defense in the preseason, but Portland hasn't been playing enough of it. The Rockets scored 111 points against the Blazers on Saturday. "We know what we have to do, and it just comes down to effort," Brandon Roy told The Oregonian. "It's one thing to see everybody trying to do it. But there are a lot of plays where it doesn't seem like our effort is there." Portland improved Sunday in allowing only 74 points to the Thunder.
 
16Utah Jazz
Last Week: --
Utah Jazz (1-1)
Coach Jerry Sloan isn't one to mince words, but he was especially blunt when addressing his team's defensive effort last week. "Defense?" Sloan told reporters. "I don't know if we could spell it the way we've looked, the situation we're in." Utah surrendered 114 points to Denver in an opening-night loss and 98 to the Clippers in a home win. Overall, the Jazz are allowing opponents to shoot 47.2 percent.
 
17New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: --
Is it already time to pull the plug on the Julian Wright experiment? Installed as the starting small forward, Wright is averaging 8.7 points and playing carelessly enough to warrant one local blog to label him "a walking turnover." Meanwhile, longtime starter Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points in 32 minutes off the bench in a loss at Boston.
 
18Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: --
Coach Scott Skiles surprised a few people when he named Brandon Jennings his starting point guard before the season, but so far Jennings has delivered. The precocious rookie came within one assist and one rebound of becoming the second player (after Oscar Robertson) to record a triple-double in his debut. Jennings followed that up with a 24-point, three-steal effort against the Pistons on Halloween.
 
19Detroit Pistons
Last Week: --
The third quarter has been the Pistons' nemesis. Detroit has taken leads into halftime in each of their past two games but has been outscored by an average of 15 points in back-to-back losses. "We can't afford to come out and take off the first five minutes," Ben Wallace said.
 
20Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: --
Zach Randolph averaging 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds? Yeah, I'll buy that. But 4.0 assists? For a player who has averaged fewer than two assists in his previous nine seasons? The Grizz's new inside threat has been looking to pass out of double teams more instead of forcing shots at the rim. More help (we think) could be on the way: Allen Iverson could make his Memphis debut on Monday.
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