Posted: Mon January 20, 2014 2:13PM; Updated: Mon January 20, 2014 7:26PM
Matt Dollinger
Matt Dollinger>INSIDE THE NBA

Pacers, Blazers dominating in very different ways

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Paul George
Paul George and the red-hot Pacers lead the No. 2 Trail Blazers in this week's Power Rankings.
Don Ryan/AP

At first glance, the Pacers and Trail Blazers don't appear to have too much in common. Indiana's gritty group owns the NBA's best defense, but its offense is mediocre; Portland, behind a slew of sharpshooters, boasts the best offense, but the defense is below average. The Pacers were expected to contend; the Blazers have come as a complete surprise.

But the two do share some common ground once you look closer. Indiana and Portland both feature 23-year-old stars who are continuing to improve in Paul George and Damian Lillard. They both have All-Star big men in Roy Hibbert and LaMarcus Aldridge. They both have veteran leaders making understated contributions in David West and Wes Matthews. And in the case of the rich getting richer, they both have added talented players recently to an already loaded mix, with veteran forward Danny Granger rejoining the Pacers and rookie guard CJ McCollum debuting for the Blazers.

There's a reason why Indiana and Portland are 1-2 in this week's NBA Power Rankings: They dominate their craft. The Pacers have been so stifling that they are allowing almost five fewer points per 100 possessions than any other team. The Blazers have been so crisp that their offensive efficiency of 110.6 points per 100 possessions is the NBA's highest mark since the Suns averaged 112.7 in 2009-10.

Using their respective formulas to great effect, the Pacers have compiled the league's best record and the Blazers -- who won at San Antonio and Dallas last week to extend their latest winning streak to five -- are challenging for first place in the rugged Western Conference.

This week's biggest risers are the Grizzlies (No. 10), Wizards (No. 14) and Bobcats (No. 20), while the Knicks tumble to No. 21 after following a five-game winning streak with three losses in a row.

Here's where all 30 teams stand. (All statistics and records are through Jan. 19.)

NBA Power Rankings
 
1 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 1
Since: 3-0
The Pacers continue to treat the rest of the league like it owes them money. Indiana won three games last week by an average of 22 points. With Lance Stephenson playing at an All-Star level and George and Hibbert already there, the Pacers have built a 3½-game lead on the Heat for the top spot in the East.
 
2 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 4
Since: 3-0
Still don't believe the Blazers are contenders? They've beaten every team in the West currently projected to make the playoffs and have knocked off the Spurs and Thunder twice. And they're on their third winning streak of at least five games halfway through the season. Convinced yet?
 
3 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 2
Since: 3-1
If only Gregg Popovich showed this type of enthusiasm in his sideline interviews. When asked, after losing to the Blazers, why he lost his temper and was ejected, Popovich replied, "I always have my reasons." We know you do, Pop.
 
4 Miami Heat
Last Week: 5
Since: 2-1
Miami Heat (29-11)
Ray Allen's shooting is among the Heat's concerns. The NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers is 4-of-34 from deep in January, lowering his season mark to a career-low 32.2 percent. He's shot better than 40 percent in each of the past three seasons.
 
5 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 7
Since: 3-1
Kevin Durant is putting up video game numbers. He's taken at least 28 shots in three of his last eight games after doing it just four times all of last season. He's averaging a hilarious 36.1 points since the New Year and has put 4.5 points between himself (30.6) and second-place Carmelo Anthony (26.1) in the race for the scoring title.
 
6 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 3
Since: 1-2
The Warriors are just 5-6 when Andre Iguodala scores seven points or fewer and 16-3 when he scores at least eight. As good as its backcourt is, Golden State is at its most potent when it spreads the love and attacks teams from all angles.
 
7 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 6
Since: 2-1
Even without Chris Paul, the Clippers are a dangerous team and one that can still get solid play from its guards. J.J. Redick dropped 33 points against Dallas in only his second game back from a broken hand, and Paul's replacement, Darren Collison, has posted double-digit points in eight straight games.
 
8 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 8
Since: 3-1
The Rockets have played only one bad half in their last five games. Problem is, it was the worst half of the NBA season, as they scored a franchise-low 19 points after hanging 73 in the first half of a loss to Oklahoma City. The terrible two quarters featured an 0-of-14 showing from three-point range and 12 turnovers.
 
9 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 9
Since: 2-2
The Mavs have been sharp their last six games, winning four and averaging 11 three-pointers on 44.3 percent shooting. But their hot hand still wasn't good enough to beat the Clippers or Blazers, a fact that might encapsulate their entire season.
 
10 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 16
Since: 3-0
The Grizzlies have won five of six since acquiring Courtney Lee from Boston, with the only loss being a two-point defeat to the West-leading Spurs. Lee is averaging 14.2 points on 51.6 percent for Memphis. The Grizzlies were able to stay in playoff contention without Marc Gasol, who returned last week after missing 23 games with a left-knee injury.
 
11 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 11
Since: 1-2
Phoenix Suns (23-17)
The Suns' last five losses have come by five points or fewer, but they've managed a respectable 4-6 record since losing Eric Bledsoe to knee surgery. On Sunday, Phoenix beat Denver for the third time this season and moved within two victories of matching last season's win total.
 
12 Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 10
Since: 1-3
The Nuggets followed up an impressive victory at Golden State with a home loss to Cleveland and yet another loss to Phoenix. Denver has allowed at least 117 points in four consecutive games, a bad trend ahead of Thursday's game against Portland's offensive juggernaut.
 
13 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 12
Since: 2-2
Will the Raptors' unlikely success affect how they handle the trade deadline? With Kyle Lowry and others drawing interest, GM Masai Ujiri will have a difficult decision to make. Luckily, he's had success with those in the past.
 
14 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 20
Since: 3-1
The last time the Wizards -- who crushed Miami and beat Chicago twice last week -- were above .500 was a 2-1 start in 2009-10. No pressure, guys.
 
15 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 13
Since: 2-2
The Bulls are turning into a Monty Python sketch, losing limb after limb yet still putting up a fight. Chicago has won 10 of its last 14 games and gone 5-2 since trading Luol Deng. The Bulls are so depleted that they basically played just eight guys in a triple-overtime victory over Orlando last week; Jimmy Butler logged a ridiculous 60 minutes, the most in the NBA since 2001.
 
16 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 14
Since: 1-2
Here's one reason for optimism about the Wolves' playoff chances. Here's not one: Minnesota hasn't beaten a winning team in more than a month.
 
17 Brooklyn Nets
Last Week: 17
Since: 1-0
Not a bad trip to London for Joe Johnson, who reportedly dropped $9,000 on a bar tab and then dropped 29 points and hit six three-pointers in a blowout win over the Hawks.
 
18 Atlanta Hawks
Last Week: 15
Since: 0-1
A rare move to the starting lineup couldn't jump-start Lou Williams, who is shooting a career-low 37.1 percent and has gone eight straight games without scoring double digits for the first time since 2008.
 
19 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 22
Since: 1-1
After failing to hack it as a starter in Detroit, Rodney Stuckey appears to have found his niche as a sixth man. He's scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games and is averaging a career-high 19.6 points per 36 minutes. He's raised his shooting percentage from 40.6 last season to 45.6 this season.
 
20 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 27
Since: 2-2
The Bobcats came within an OT period against the Heat of going 3-1 last week. Al Jefferson has awoken and is playing his best basketball of the season, averaging 26.2 points and 11.4 rebounds over his last five games.
 
21 New York Knicks
Last Week: 18
Since: 1-3
It's put-up or shut-up time for the Knicks, who have lost three straight by an average of 17.3 points. New York closes the month with six consecutive home games against teams under .500, leaving the door open for the Knicks to gain ground in the crowded playoff race in the weak East.
 
22 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 21
Since: 1-3
It's fun to poke fun at Rudy Gay and point out that Toronto is 14-7 since dealing him, but Sacramento likely doesn't have trader's remorse, either. The Kings are 8-11 with Gay, who is averaging 19.9 points on 51.4 percent shooting with Sacramento.
 
23 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 24
Since: 2-2
Utah Jazz (14-28)
The Jazz managed to split four games last week despite the absence of Gordon Hayward. They have to be happy to see Alec Burks step into the starting lineup and average 18.8 points in their last five games, including a career-high 34 against the Nuggets. When Hayward returns from a hip injury, it'll be interesting to see if coach Tyrone Corbin moves 33-year-old Richard Jefferson or the 22-year-old Burks back to the bench.
-
24 Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: 26
Since: 2-1
Deng arrived just in time for a five-game Western road swing, helping the Cavaliers go 3-2. Sure, one of those "2" was a 44-point loss to the Kings, but let's focus on the positives: Deng is averaging 18.4 points as a Cav and has yet to hit the 40-minute mark in a game. Take that, Thibs.
 
25 New Orleans Pelicans
Last Week: 19
Since: 0-3
Injuries have crippled the Pelicans, who have lost eight in a row to fall 7½ games out of the eight spot in the West. With the playoffs looking like a long shot, the Pelicans should once again set their sights on the lottery and hope to strike gold again like they did with Anthony Davis.
 
26 Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 23
Since: 2-2
Kendall Marshall is playing like the player the Suns envisioned when they drafted him in the lottery in 2012. After being traded to the Wizards then waived this preseason, the 22-year-old joined the Lakers in mid-December and has been averaging 10.6 points and 9.2 assists.
 
27 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 25
Since: 1-2
Michael Carter-Williams' Rookie of the Year campaign is alive and well, but the point guard is having a miserable January. His offensive rating has dropped from 107.2 in December to just 92.7 and his net rating has gone from minus-1.1 to minus-13.6 this month.
 
28 Orlando Magic
Last Week: 29
Since: 1-3
For better or worse, Victor Oladipo sure can stuff a stat sheet. In the triple-OT loss against the Bulls, Oladipo finished with 35 points, eight assists, eight turnovers, five fouls, four rebounds, three steals and one block in 57 minutes.
 
29 Boston Celtics
Last Week: 28
Since: 1-3
Welcome back, Rajon Rondo. The NBA is a better place with its most innovative point guard on the floor. Will the Celtics be any better? They're off to an 0-2 start.
 
30 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 30
Since: 0-4
Larry Sanders was a darling of the advanced-statistics community last season, but he's become the redheaded stepchild this year. His PER has plummeted from 18.7 to 10.9 and his rebounding and block numbers have taken similar tumbles.
 
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