Mark Heisler's NBA rankings

December 20, 2009

Last week's ranking in parentheses.

1. Lakers 20-4 (1): It's still not nice to upset Mother Nature, or Kobe.

2. Celtics 20-5 (2): Not yet immortal: 11-0 run ends in home loss to … 76ers?

3. Magic 19-7 (5): Jameer Nelson, leader young & restless teammates missed, close to returning.

4. Cavaliers 20-7 (6): Reportedly looking for major deal after missing out on Trevor Ariza, Stephen Jackson.

5. Hawks 19-6 (7): Where can this lead? Just went 6-0 including victory in Dallas.

6. Suns 17-9 (3): End year with Celtics, Cavaliers, Lakers - with six vs. top seven rest of way.

7. Nuggets 19-8 (4): As in pre-Chauncey Billups Era: He misses game with groin pull. They lose to Hornets.

8. Mavericks 19-8 (8): Just won five in row with little Juan Jose Barea starting alongside Jason Kidd.

9. Jazz 15-11 (9): Look like old selves, stunk out Atlanta. Still don't defend or play on road.

10. Rockets 15-11 (10): Like that will stop him: Carl Landry, who was shot and came back, loses five teeth.

11. Spurs 13-10 (11): Newcomer who has helped: Keith Bogans. Newcomers who haven't: Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess.

12. Trail Blazers 16-11 (12): Hanging in: 3-3 since Greg Oden left, just came from 13 down in fourth quarter vs. Suns.

13. Thunder: 13-12 (13): Beat Pistons to end 0-3 skid but going on road vs. Rockets, Lakers and Suns.

14. Heat 13-11 (14): Mario Chalmers loses starting job to Carlos Arroyo for being late. Also for playing badly.

15. Hornets 12-13 (16): Could be MVP every season: Hornets 5-3 since Chris Paul returned.

16. Bucks 11-13 (15): Charlie Bell on Kobe? Without help? With the game on the line?

17. Pistons: 11-15 (17): Youth movement looks better as Rodney Stuckey grows, averaging 23 this month.

18. Bobcats 10-14 (18): Boris Diaw, Larry Brown favorite last season, in doghouse, down from 15-6-5 to 11-4-3.

19. Grizzlies 11-15 (20): Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol get 26-20-19-18-17 vs. Pacers.

20. Kings 11-14 (21): Omri Casspi, NBA's first Israeli, becomes starter, gets 21-22 in first two.

21. Clippers 11-14 (19): Oops: Blew 19-point lead vs. Knicks with revived 76ers, Spurs and Rockets next.

22. Raptors 12-17 (22): Chris Bosh on Hedo Turkoglu's start: "Not the best so far, to be frank."

23. 76ers 7-19 (28): 2-0 as Eddie Jordan finds rotation. Coincidentally or not, injured AI isn't in it.

24. Knicks 9-17 (23): Blew 17-point lead vs. Bulls, came from 19 down vs. Clippers - in two nights.

25. Bulls 9-15 (27): Vinny Del Negro Watch eases after rally vs. Knicks calms fears for another month or two.

26. Wizards 8-16 (24): Got Mike Miller, Randy Foye to get over top. Both near free agency with top nowhere in sight.

27. Pacers 9-15 (25): With docs limiting playing time, Mike Dunleavy averaging 15 on 11 shots a game.

28. Timberwolves 5-22 (30): Going from pathetic to competitive with Kevin Love back, triangle phased out.

29. Warriors 7-19 (26): Fans boo Corey Maggette, Vladimir Radmanovic because front office, real culprit, isn't out there.

30. Nets 2-25 (29): Kiki Vandeweghe's coach of year candidacy fades as 0-6 return to normalcy follows 2-1 start.

Records through Friday.

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