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NBA D-League Power Rankings: February, 2, 2012

February 2, 2012: These are interesting times in the NBA D-League.. The Austin Toros spent five straight weeks at the top of the Rankings as the undisputed best team in the league after a scalding start to the season. But after an 0-3 week, the Toros are still percentage points above their closest contenders in the League Standings, so what to do? Let's defer to the old boxing model. The top dogs keep their perch until somebody dislodges them. The call here is the Toros will remain in the top spot -- precariously so, mind you -- until such time as one of the contenders overtake Player of the Month Justin Dentmon and Company. P.S. Don't forget to Vote Now for your D-League All-Stars and watch the game at 2pm ET, Saturday February 25 on NBA TV.

----- 1st last week
As we said above, the Toros had rough week, dropping three straight games, including a 114-101 loss to the streaking Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Feb 2. Austin won't be able to rely on home cookin' to help the team out of its funk either, as the Toros are scheduled to play their next EIGHT games on the road, including difficult matchups with the Vipers (Feb. 10-11) and the D-Fenders (Feb. 18-19). The Toros don't host another game until Feb. 22 when the Tulsa 66ers come to town.
----- 2nd last week
The defending D-League Champions made a bid for the top spot of the Power Rankings by defeating the Toros 111-110 on Jan. 27, but were then tripped up by the Dakota Wizards 117-107 the next night. Iowa was sparked by guards Curtis Stinson and Mike Efevberha in the victory over Austin as Efevberha poured in 26 points and Stinson added 24. The Energy tip-off a three game series against Dakota on Feb 3.
4th last week
Rio Grande Valley continued its recent climb up the Rankings with a 3-1 week, including a big 114-101 win over the top-ranked Toros on Feb 2. Guards Kelvin Lewis (team-high 21 points) and Will Conroy (20 points, nine assists) and big man Greg Smith (20 points on 8-of-10 shooting) paced the Vipers past Austin, the fourth win in five games this season against the top-ranked team in the league. Rio Grande Valley, which is 7-3 over its last 10 games, plays a pair of games at Idaho this weekend.
3rd last week
The D-Fenders had a 1-2 week, dropping a spot in the Rankings, but did snap a three-game losing streak by blitzing the Canton Charge 127-87 on Jan 30. NBA elite prospect Elijah Millsap poured in a game-high 27 points in the win over Canton and former NBA slam dunk champ Gerald Green added 24 points, including 5-of-6 treys, as he continues his bids to return to The Show. Los Angeles hosts Erie for a pair of games this week.
-----5th last week
Bakersfield maintained fifth place in the Rankings with a 1-1 week, highlighted by a 106-95 win over the local rival D-Fenders on Jan 16. Guard Osiris Eldridge scored 22 points in the win, while Los Angeles Clippers assignee Eric Bledsoe posted 15 points and a team-high seven assists in 18 minutes off the bench for the Jam. Bakersfield hosts Erie before hitting the road for a pair of games against Reno this week.
8th last week
Reno had a huge week, winning three games to jump two spots in the Power Rankings in addition to leading the league in buzz as star guard Blake Ahearn made league history from the free-throw line. The Bighorns won games at Springfield, Maine and Texas over the past week and will now play at Tulsa before hosting the Jam and the D-Fenders over the next few weeks.
----7th last week
Jordan Williams, who averaged 10.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in six games with the Armor, was recalled by the New Jersey Nets this week, but the Armor still managed to go 1-1, to hold onto seventh place in the Rankings. Springfield topped Idaho 111-102 on Jan 26, with another Nets assignee, forward Dennis Horner, pouring in 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 30 minutes of action off the bench. The Armor hosts Sioux Falls for a pair of games this week.
6th last week
Tulsa also had a 1-1 week, but dropped two spots in the Rankings due to Reno's big jump and the 66ers' less-than-stellar 4-6 record over the past 10 games. Tulsa did post an 87-81 win over Fort Wayne on Jan 27 as guard Jerome Dyson scored a team-high 21 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists in the victory. The 66ers look to get back onto the winning track with games against Reno and Texas this week.
11th last week
Erie took advantage of two straight games against the struggling Skyforce and jumped two spots in the Power Rankings this week after topping Sioux Falls twice. Forward Kyle Goldcamp scored a combined 38 points and grabbed a combined 25 rebounds in the two games, while frontcourt mate Tirrell Baines chipped in with 35 points. The BayHawks schedule gets a bit tougher this week, however, as Erie plays at Bakersfield and Los Angeles in a challenging West Coast swing.
-----10th last week
Dakota recorded a very big victory in their lone game this week, defeating the defending D-League Champion Iowa Energy 117-97 on Jan 28. Guard Stefhon Hannah poured in a team-high 31 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and made three steals in the win, while newly assigned Chris Wright (recently of the Golden State Warriors) scored 24 points. The Wizards embark on a seven game road trip when they again face the East-leading Energy on Feb 3 and Feb 4.
9th last week
Texas dropped two games -- and subsequently two spots in the Power Rankings -- this week, but did manage to record a big 105-101 win over the local rival Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Jan 29 . Guard Booker Woodfox scored a game-high 26 points off the bench for the Legends, while former NBA player Antonio Daniels posted a 15-point, 10-assist double-double. Texas also hits the road for an extended trip this week, starting with a pair of games at Tulsa on Feb 4 and Feb 5.
-----12th last week
Canton had a solid 2-1 West Coast swing thisweek, defeating Bakersfield (Jan 27) and Los Angeles (Jan 28), before dropping second match with the D-Fenders on Jan 30. D-League Performer of the Week Manny Harris scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds in the win over L.A., while forward Luke Harangody posted a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double before being recalled by the club's NBA affiliate, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Canton hosts Austin on Feb 3 and Feb 4.
-----13th last week
Fort Wayne split a pair of games at Tulsa last week, with swingman Sadiel Rojas bursting onto the scene with an 18-point, 18-rebound effort in a 94-82 Mad Ants win over the 66ers. Rojas, a 6-4, 195-pounder out of Oklahoma Wesleyan, went a perfect 12-for-12 from the line in the victory and may have earned some big Fort Wayne minutes in the future. The Mad Ants host Maine for three straight games over the next week.
15th last week
Former NBA player Morris Almond, in his second stint with Maine, scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 97-94 win over the Idaho Stampede on Jan 27. Forward Lawrence Hill also doubled up for the Red Claws, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 boards in the victory, which jumped Maine one spot over Idaho in the Power Rankings. The Red Claws play three straight games at Fort Wayne next week.
14th last week
The Stampede stumbled to an 0-2 record this week, slipping one spot in the Power Rankings, but hope to benefit from the addition of former NBA guard Marcus Banks, who joined the team on Feb 1. Banks, a 6-2, 205-pound guard out of UNLV, played in 348 NBA games in eight seasons and is slated to suit up in the Stampede's pink jersey in recognition of breast cancer awareness this weekend.
-----16th last week
Sioux Falls dropped two games to the Erie BayHawks this week, but things are looking up as the acquisition of 6-11, 230-pound center Keith Benson could be just what the team needs. Benson scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his second game with the Skyforce, who play two straight games at Springfield this week.