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Hawks, Warriors stand tallest at season's halfway mark

Power Rankings: Week 12


POSTED: Jan 19, 2015 11:37 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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Stephen Curry and the Warriors have definitely enjoyed life during the season's first half.

When five of Monday's 12 games are done, we'll be exactly halfway through the season.

At this point last year, the Phoenix Suns were six games over .500 (like they are now) and in eighth place in the Western Conference (like they are now), while the Memphis Grizzlies were 20-20 (like both the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder are now). The Grizz finished the season with 50 wins, bumping the Suns into Lottery land.

Of course, the other 15 teams who were in playoff position at this time last year stayed there, even though three teams were within a game in the win or loss column behind the 18-25 Charlotte Bobcats in the East. There's still a lot of questions to be answered, but the games that have already been played count just as much as the ones to come.

And the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors have put themselves in great position with their first half performance. They each lead their conference by five games in the loss column, and they rightfully stand at the top of the Power Rankings at the midway point.

* * *

• Last week: West contenders making moves as season heats up
• This time last year: Pacers making history at midway point -- Rajon Rondo played his first game of the season and Greg Oden played his first game in over four years. In a game against the Thunder, the Rockets scored 73 points in the first half and 19 in the second. The Warriors traded for Jordan Crawford, Jimmy Butler played 60 minutes in a game, the Bucks hadn't won in January, and Paul George did this.

• Plus-minus stud: Kyle Korver (ATL) was a plus-64 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: Amir Johnson (TOR) was a minus-43 in four games last week.

• Hero Team of the Week: Atlanta (4-0) -- Three weeks in a row? The Wizards also beat two teams from last week's top 10, but lost at home to the Nets after that. The Hawks keep T.C.B.
• Zero Team of the Week: L.A. Lakers (0-3) -- Kobe or no Kobe, the Lakers scored 94 points per 100 possessions against three bottom-10 defensive teams (Miami, Cleveland and Utah), with two of the games at home.

• High jumps of the week: Orlando (+4), Washington (+4), Cleveland (+3), Memphis (+3)
• Free falls of the week: Chicago (-6), Portland (-4), Sacramento (-4)

• East vs. West: The West is 145-90 (0.617) against the East in interconference games, and was 10-8 last week.

• Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. New York, 3. New Orleans
• Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Washington, 2. Golden State, 3. Dallas
Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

* * *

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 96.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.3 points scored per 100 possessions through Sunday.

* * *

NBA.com's Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man's opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via twitter.

1

Last week: 1

Atlanta (33-8)
Pace: 96.2 (15) OffRtg: 107.0 (5) DefRtg: 99.8 (6) NetRtg: +7.2 (2)
Already in January, the Hawks have won without Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, won without Kyle Korver and Al Horford, beat the next three teams in the Eastern Conference standings, beat the next hottest team in the East, and beat three of the top six teams in the West. With no more questions to be answered, they're home for nine of their next 10 games.
This week: vs. DET, vs. IND, vs. OKC, vs. MEM

2

Last week: 3

Golden State (32-6)
Pace: 100.8 (1) OffRtg: 109.7 (3) DefRtg: 97.2 (1) NetRtg: +12.5 (1)
Stephen Curry has been an MVP candidate all season (and his on-off court NetRtg differential is still ridiculous) and Klay Thompson is making a late All-Star push, averaging 25.7 points with an effective field goal percentage of 63.0 over the last six games. The Dubs haven't lost at home game since Nov. 11 and begin a five-game homestand on Monday.
This week: vs. DEN, vs. HOU, vs. SAC, vs. BOS

3

Last week: 4

San Antonio (26-16)
Pace: 95.6 (20) OffRtg: 104.4 (12) DefRtg: 99.7 (5) NetRtg: +4.7 (5)
Kawhi Leonard (20 points, four rebounds, five assists, three steals) looked pretty good in his return, helping the Spurs beat the Blazers on Friday. The Spurs are 14-4 (6-2 vs. teams currently over .500) with Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and they've allowed 9.2 fewer points per 100 possessions with Leonard on the floor than with him off it.
This week: @ DEN, @ CHI, vs. LAL, vs. MIL

4

Last week: 7

Memphis (29-11)
Pace: 94.1 (27) OffRtg: 105.4 (11) DefRtg: 102.0 (11) NetRtg: +3.4 (9)
The Grizzlies are 10-3 against other West playoff teams after wins over the Suns and Blazers (without Mike Conley) in the last eight days. That's, by far, the best record among the group, and they play the team (Dallas) with the worst mark (1-8) on Monday. After missing his first seven threes with the Grizz, Jeff Green was 3-for-5 (but also a minus-8) vs. Portland.
This week: vs. DAL, vs. TOR, vs. PHI

5

Last week: 6

Dallas (28-13)
Pace: 97.3 (8) OffRtg: 110.6 (1) DefRtg: 103.6 (16) NetRtg: +7.1 (3)
We knew the Mavs' offense would take a step back after the Rajon Rondo trade, but it's been rather anemic over the last six games, scoring less than a point per possession. The three Mavs who have attempted the most 3-pointers in that stretch -- Chandler Parsons, Devin Harris and Charlie Villanueva -- have shot a combined 18-for-75 (24 percent).
This week: @ MEM, @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ NOP

6

Last week: 2

Portland (30-11)
Pace: 96.5 (13) OffRtg: 105.4 (9) DefRtg: 99.4 (4) NetRtg: +6.0 (5)
The Blazers had played the league's easiest schedule, but it turned on them last week, handing them losses to the Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies and dropping them to 3-7 vs. the other West playoff teams. C.J. McCollum had a big game (17 points on 7-for-10 shooting) against the Spurs, but Nicolas Batum (3-for-18 in the three games) continues to struggle.
This week: vs. SAC, @ PHX, vs. BOS, vs. WAS

7

Last week: 9

L.A. Clippers (27-14)
Pace: 96.6 (12) OffRtg: 110.4 (2) DefRtg: 104.0 (19) NetRtg: +6.4 (4)
The Clips had a nine-game winning streak that ended in early December, but have been Team Jekyll and Hyde since then. A potent offense has gotten them some quality wins, but bad defense (bottom 10 in January) has earned them some head-shaking losses. They haven't won more than three in a row or lost more than two straight since that winning streak.
This week: vs. BOS, vs. BKN, @ PHX

8

Last week: 12

Washington (28-13)
Pace: 95.4 (22) OffRtg: 104.0 (13) DefRtg: 100.7 (7) NetRtg: +3.3 (11)
Friday's home loss to Brooklyn is tough to explain, but the Wizards have won four of their last five games against teams that are currently .500 or better, with their offense (ninth in January) continuing to trend up. The starters have done most of the damage, but Kevin Seraphin came up huge (11 points) in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's win over the Spurs.
This week: vs. PHI, vs. OKC, @ POR, @ DEN

9

Last week: 11

Phoenix (24-18)
Pace: 99.0 (3) OffRtg: 106.9 (6) DefRtg: 103.8 (18) NetRtg: +3.1 (12)
Alex Len has averaged only 7.9 points and 8.0 rebounds in his 17 games as a starter, but the Suns' starting lineup has allowed just 92.4 points per 100 possessions in that time. And all other lineups have been potent offensively, scoring 111.2. It's a good time for a Phoenix vacation, with temperatures in the 70s and lots of good teams coming to town.
This week: vs. LAL, vs. POR, vs. HOU, vs. LAC

10

Last week: 8

Houston (28-13)
Pace: 98.3 (7) OffRtg: 103.2 (15) DefRtg: 99.2 (2) NetRtg: +4.0 (8)
The Rockets still rank second defensively, but they fell apart on that end in losses to Orlando and Golden State last week, and they've allowed nine or more 3-pointers in five of their last seven games. It may be a case of regression to the mean, as only five teams have contested a lower percentage of their opponents jump shots than the Rockets have.
This week: vs. IND, @ GSW, @ PHX, @ LAL

11

Last week: 5

Chicago (27-15)
Pace: 96.0 (17) OffRtg: 105.8 (7) DefRtg: 102.4 (12) NetRtg: +3.4 (10)
The Bulls are still banged up, but their struggles at home remain baffling. After losses to the Magic, Wizards and Raptors last week, they've lost to half of the other 14 East teams at the United Center, allowing 109.3 points per 100 possessions in the seven losses. Only Detroit (5.9) has a bigger differential between its home and road DefRtg than Chicago (5.2).
This week: @ CLE, vs. SAS, @ DAL, vs. MIA

12

Last week: 13

Oklahoma City (20-20)
Pace: 97.1 (10) OffRtg: 102.2 (20) DefRtg: 101.2 (9) NetRtg: +1.0 (14)
The Thunder offense woke up over the weekend, scoring 254 points in wins over the Warriors and Magic. After shooting 1-for-9 in his first game with his new team, Dion Waiters has an effective field goal percentage of 56.4 over the last four. The Thunder are a plus-38 in 64 minutes with Waiters, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the floor together.
This week: @ MIA, @ WAS, @ ATL, @ CLE

13

Last week: 10

Toronto (26-14)
Pace: 96.1 (16) OffRtg: 109.7 (4) DefRtg: 104.8 (22) NetRtg: +4.9 (6)
DeMar DeRozan's return hasn't stopped the bleeding, and the Raptors have lost seven of their last nine games, playing pretty poorly on both ends of the floor. With the anniversary of his 51-point performance coming on Sunday, the struggling Terrence Ross should note that he had more free throw attempts in that game (10) than he's had in his last 16 (eight).
This week: @ MIL, @ MEM, @ PHI, vs. DET

14

Last week: 16

Detroit (16-25)
Pace: 95.8 (19) OffRtg: 101.3 (22) DefRtg: 103.3 (15) NetRtg: -2.1 (18)
The Pistons' new potent offense has made them a better comeback team. After wins in Toronto and Indiana last week, they're 4-2 in games they trailed by double-digits since waiving Josh Smith, with all four wins coming on the road and three coming against teams with winning records. With Smith, they were 0-20 when facing a double-digit deficit.
This week: @ ATL, vs. ORL, @ MIL, @ TOR

15

Last week: 15

Milwaukee (21-19)
Pace: 96.3 (14) OffRtg: 101.2 (23) DefRtg: 99.3 (3) NetRtg: +1.9 (13)
The Bucks took some pictures and got an easy win, but also came back from London with a torn ACL (Kendall Marshall) and a 10-game suspension (Larry Sanders). Marshall hadn't played a ton of minutes, but the offense was at its best with him on the floor and his teammates had an effective field goal percentage of 57.1 percent off his passes.
This week: vs. TOR, vs. UTA, vs. DET, @ SAS

16

Last week: 14

New Orleans (20-20)
Pace: 94.7 (24) OffRtg: 105.4 (10) DefRtg: 105.8 (25) NetRtg: -0.4 (15)
The Brow-less Pelicans were the Jekyll and Hyde team of the weekend, losing in Philly and winning in Toronto. Maybe more time for Alexis Ajinca on Friday could have got them both games. Ajinca totaled 38 points (on 16-for-22 shooting) and 20 boards in the two games, and the Pels were a plus-27 in his 59 minutes. He might stick when Anthony Davis returns.
This week: @ NYK, vs. LAL, @ MIN, vs. DAL

17

Last week: 17

Charlotte (16-25)
Pace: 95.1 (23) OffRtg: 98.6 (28) DefRtg: 101.6 (10) NetRtg: -3.0 (23)
For the second straight season, the Hornets are showing month-by-month improvement. They had a NetRtg of minus-8.4 through November and minus-2.3 in December. Now, despite injuries to Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, they're plus-7.7, with the league's second best defense, in January. Jefferson hopes to return Wednesday against the Heat.
This week: vs. MIN, vs. MIA, @ CLE, vs. NYK

18

Last week: 19

Miami (18-22)
Pace: 91.6 (30) OffRtg: 102.7 (17) DefRtg: 105.5 (23) NetRtg: -2.8 (21)
Heat games haven't been very pretty of late. They have the 25th ranked offense and sixth ranked defense in January, while playing at the league's slowest pace. But they're holding on to a playoff spot and Chris Bosh is looking like an All-Star again. He's scored 26 or more points in four of his last six games, shooting 12-for-24 from 3-point range in that stretch.
This week: vs. OKC, @ CHA, vs. IND, @ CHI

19

Last week: 22

Cleveland (21-20)
Pace: 94.6 (25) OffRtg: 105.6 (8) DefRtg: 106.7 (27) NetRtg: -1.2 (16)
The Cavs are undefeated since they went bowling and 20-12 with LeBron James, who has averaged 33.7 points (taking almost nine threes per game), 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists in three game since returning. The offense has been turned up, but the defense still stinks. Timofey Mozgov's early rim protection numbers are much worse than they were in Denver.
This week: vs. CHI, vs. UTA, vs. CHA, vs. OKC

20

Last week: 18

Denver (18-22)
Pace: 98.7 (4) OffRtg: 102.6 (18) DefRtg: 104.5 (20) NetRtg: -1.9 (17)
The Nuggets often take advantage of teams coming to town on the second night of a back-to-back, but they're 2-6 on the second night of a back-to-back themselves after Saturday's loss to the Wolves. Only the Celtics (six) have played fewer back-to-backs, but Denver has five more before the All-Star break, including a Warriors-Spurs doozy this week.
This week: @ GSW, vs. SAS, vs. BOS, vs. WAS

21

Last week: 21

Utah (14-27)
Pace: 92.8 (29) OffRtg: 102.9 (16) DefRtg: 106.6 (26) NetRtg: -3.7 (25)
Only one player (Marreese Speights) has had a bigger jump in usage rate, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage than Gordon Hayward from last season to this season. Hayward's shooting has dropped a bit since November, but the Utah offense still collapses whenever he steps off the floor. He had 31 in Friday's win over the Lakers.
This week: @ CLE, @ MIL, vs. BKN

22

Last week: 24

Brooklyn (17-24)
Pace: 94.2 (26) OffRtg: 99.8 (24) DefRtg: 103.0 (13) NetRtg: -3.1 (24)
Brook Lopez responded to trade rumors by putting up 26 points (on only 14 shots) in Friday's win in Washington, but Lopez's eventual departure could be about Mason Plumlee more than it is about Lopez himself. The Nets can take their time though, looking for pieces that can keep them competitive, since they don't control their own draft pick until 2019.
This week: @ SAC, @ LAC, @ UTA

23

Last week: 27

Orlando (15-29)
Pace: 95.8 (18) OffRtg: 99.0 (26) DefRtg: 104.8 (21) NetRtg: -5.8 (26)
The Magic kept their playoff hopes somewhat alive by getting two impressive wins early last week, getting highlight dunks from Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo along the way. The weekend didn't go so well, but their offense has been respectable with Oladipo and Elfrid Payton on the floor since they started playing more minutes together.
This week: @ DET, @ NYK, vs. IND

24

Last week: 20

Sacramento (16-24)
Pace: 96.8 (11) OffRtg: 103.5 (14) DefRtg: 105.7 (24) NetRtg: -2.2 (19)
The Kings went 2-4 on their homestand, dealing with injuries, shooting poorly from the perimeter, blowing leads, and continuing to struggle when they go to their bench. No team has more road games remaining, and the schedule turns now, with visits to Portland and Golden State this week. One bit of optimism: Their starting guards have shot well on the road.
This week: @ POR, vs. BKN, @ GSW

25

Last week: 26

Boston (13-25)
Pace: 99.3 (2) OffRtg: 101.4 (21) DefRtg: 103.8 (17) NetRtg: -2.4 (20)
The Celtics still have more dealing to do, because every time they trade a guy that a contender can use, they get another one in return. They're still just a game in the loss column out of eighth place in the East, but that's partly because they've played the fewest games in the conference. Now they've reached the part of the schedule that should bury them.
This week: @ LAC, @ POR, @ DEN, @ GSW

26

Last week: 23

Indiana (15-27)
Pace: 95.5 (21) OffRtg: 97.9 (29) DefRtg: 100.7 (8) NetRtg: -2.9 (22)
When the Pacers fail to make the playoffs, remember the week they helped the Wolves end their 15-game losing streak and lost to the Hornets without Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. They scored 18 fewer points (71) in that game (which went to overtime) than they allowed Mo Williams (52) and Brandon Jennings (37) to score earlier in the week.
This week: @ HOU, @ ATL, @ MIA, @ ORL

27

Last week: 25

L.A. Lakers (12-29)
Pace: 97.2 (9) OffRtg: 102.6 (19) DefRtg: 108.6 (28) NetRtg: -6.1 (27)
The Lakers have turned their season around in a way. They had nowhere to go but up, but they've been the most improved defensive team since Dec. 1, ranking 22nd on that end after ranking last through November. But their offense has been pretty bad over their last eight games, with Kobe Bryant and Nick Young combining to shoot 29 percent.
This week: @ PHX, @ NOP, @ SAS, vs. HOU

28

Last week: 28

Philadelphia (8-32)
Pace: 98.7 (5) OffRtg: 91.4 (30) DefRtg: 103.0 (14) NetRtg: -11.6 (30)
They held the Pelicans to 81 points on Friday, but the Sixers' own offense has seen a slight uptick of late. Michael Carter-Williams shot 51 percent (79 percent in the restricted area) last week, his best four-game shooting stretch of the season. If he keeps that up, Philly might eventually avoid ranking as the league's worst offense since the ABA merger.
This week: @ WAS, vs. NYK, vs. TOR, @ MEM

29

Last week: 30

Minnesota (7-32)
Pace: 98.3 (6) OffRtg: 99.6 (25) DefRtg: 110.0 (30) NetRtg: -10.4 (29)
As Andrew Wiggins continues to get better (he scored a career-high 31 points on 11-for-17 shooting in Saturday's win in Denver), you have to wonder what he can do with Ricky Rubio at point guard. But the Wolves continue to exercise caution with Rubio, who hasn't played since Game 5. Kevin Martin, who's been out since Game 10, could return this week.
This week: @ CHA, vs. DAL, vs. NOP, @ ATL

30

Last week: 29

New York (5-36)
Pace: 92.9 (28) OffRtg: 98.6 (27) DefRtg: 108.9 (29) NetRtg: -10.3 (28)
The Knicks lost a lot of close games early in the season, but they've been down double-digits for more than half of their 16-game losing streak. Only three of the 16 opponents have losing records, one of those was the red-hot Pistons, and they've played the East's toughest schedule to date. It gets easier now and there might be a win to be had this week.
This week: vs. NOP, @ PHI, vs. ORL, @ CHA
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