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Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko shows Milwaukee's Chris Douglas-Roberts why Utah's defence is No. 1. ((Colin E Braley/Associated Press))

Each week, CBCSports.ca's Lance Winn breaks down the balance of power in the National Basketball Association.

1. UTAH JAZZ [up from 4]
Record: 14-5
Last 10: 8-2

Offence wins games, defence wins championships. If this saying holds true the Jazz are headed in the right direction. Not only have they reeled off six straight, including convincing wins over the Hornets and Lakers, their defence is stifling. They are tops in the league allowing just under 100 points per game and holding opponents to under 43 per cent from the field and 30 per cent from three-point land.
2. SAN ANTONIO SPURS [down from 1]
Record: 15-2
Last 10 : 9-1

They may not be holding down the top spot but it’s not like the Spurs have fallen on hard times. Sure the streak was stopped at 12, but they’ve won twice since, sport a 7-2 record at home, and a perfect 8-0 mark on the road. Manu Ginobili has been a force since his return to the lineup averaging 22 points and two steals per game.
3. DALLAS MAVERICKS [up from 8]
Record: 13-4
Last 10: 8-2

Sure enough, it’s next week and the Mavericks are definitely worth mentioning. During their six-game winning streak they disposed of the Thunder, Spurs, and Heat, no easy task. Dirk Nowitzki is still the engine that drives the offensive machine but his supporting cast has added another dimension to Cuban’s cowboys. Shawn Marion and Caron Butler have settled in, now all they have to do is keep this up for another 65 games.
4. ORLANDO MAGIC [up from 6]
Record: 13-4
Last 10 : 8-2

Having won four of their last five, the Magic continue to beat the teams they should and have claimed sole possession of first in the Southeast Division. Vince Carter went down with a knee sprain and is listed as day-to-day so factor that into the mix.
5. BOSTON CELTICS [up from 9]
Record: 13-4
Last 10 : 7-3

When you taste defeat at the hands of a team without their leading scorer, and then get surprised by a resilient Raptors team, you’re headed south in the rankings. The Celts are still without their PG and floor general Rajon Rondo so it’s tough to say exactly when they’ll get back on track, although a win over the Hawks to halt the skid at two says something about the team’s character.
6. DENVER NUGGETS [up from 11]
Record: 10-6
Last 10: 6-4

Speaking of four-game winning streaks …Things are moving in the right direction a mile above sea level. With Carmelo Anthony in the lineup leading the team in points (24) and rebounds (9) offence is a top priority. Ranked fifth, averaging 106 ppg, they know how to score, but can they hold their own at the other end of the court?
7. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS [down from 2]
Record: 12-5
Last 10: 5-5

Drop two and you’re on the outside looking in. Not really, plenty of teams would like to be “struggling” with a 12-5 record, fifth in the Western Conference. There’s no shame in losing to San Antonio and OKC, but it’s their fourth-quarter droughts that have head coach Monty Williams concerned.
8. LOS ANGELES LAKERS [down from 3]
Record: 13-5
Last 10 : 5-5

Ready to write off a three-peat? I wouldn’t push that giant red button quite yet. Sure the Lakers have dropped three straight to the likes of Utah, Indiana, and Memphis (did I say Memphis?). But don’t expect this trend to continue. Ron Artest for three at the buzzer? I think not. Even Kobe was left shaking his head.
9. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER [down from 5]
Record: 12-6
Last 10: 7-3

Yes, Kevin Durant is the man in OKC, but have you seen Russell Westbrook get up and throw down? Shane Battier knows exactly what I’m talking about. And how about dropping 12 of his 25 in the fourth against the Hornets to lead his team to a comeback win? Not bad. We’ll keep our eye out for the next Westbrook victim, there’s sure to be plenty more.
10. ATLANTA HAWKS [up from 17]
Record: 11-7
Last 10: 5-5

Marred in mediocrity no longer the Hawks have won three straight, eight of nine, and seem to have regained that swagger from last season. Josh Smith recently posted his third career triple-double, but consistency remains an issue. Joe Johnson’s 17 ppg are tops on the team but nowhere else.

11. NEW YORK KNICKS [up from 13]
Record: 10-9
Last 10: 7-3

The new-look Knicks have put together enough of a run to take over second in the Atlantic, seventh in the East. Not bad considering what the expectations were heading in. Give Amare Stoudamire credit, he’s been a beast averaging 24 points and nine boards. Offensively, they put up 107 ppg, good enough for fourth in the Association. All good, but there’s still a long road to be travelled.

12. CHICAGO BULLS [down from 7]
Record: 9-6
Last 10: 7-3

Despite residing in the weak Central Division, the Bulls finally get rewarded as off-season acquisition Carlos Boozer is set to make his Chicago debut. This should help take some of the offensive load off the shoulders of Derrick Rose. Broken hand healed, Boozer will still have to work to find his place in the system. Bulls’ fans rejoice.

13. INDIANA PACERS [up from 16]
Record: 9-7
Last 10: 6-4

What does a win over the defending champions do for a team’s confidence? Plenty. The Pacers have quietly moved into the fifth spot in the East. They’re far from impressive at home (4-5), but manage to get it done on the road (5-2). Go figure.
14. MIAMI HEAT [down from 12]
Record: 10-8
Last 10: 5-5

Everyone is still waiting for this team to explode and reel off 10 in a row. Probably won’t happen, yet. Forget all that, though. LeBron James makes his return to Cleveland this week. A game no one will want to miss.
15. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES [up from 25]
Record: 8-10
Last 10 : 4-6

A big win over the Lakers means one thing - Marc gets bragging rights over Pau until the next meeting. But seriously, it does matter to the Grizzlies, who have won four of five and moved to within striking distance of the playoffs. Playoffs? Best slow your roll Memphis fans.
16. PHOENIX SUNS [down from 10]
Record: 8-9
Last 10: 5-5

Not sure how a team can lead the league in scoring averaging 109.4 points per game and still surrender 111.9 ppg, most in the NBA. First in one area, last in another will only get you so far, and that doesn’t include the post-season.
17. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS [down from 15]
Record: 8-10
Last 10: 2-8

The Warriors handed the Spurs their second defeat of the season, now it’s time to build on that. Monta Ellis has enjoyed a breakout season thus far averaging 24 a game.
18. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS [up from 14]
Record: 8-9
Last 10: 3-7

They’re hanging on to that eighth spot in the West, but having lost four straight the injury-riddled Blazers are living on borrowed time. Don’t expect the Celtics, Wizards, or Clippers to sympathize or co-operate for that matter.
19. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS [down from 18]
Record: 7-10
Last 10 : 3-7

The Cavaliers have found themselves but do they like what they see? They can’t seem to find the bottom of the basket averaging just 94 ppg, 27th in the league. What do you expect when your leading scorer (Daniel Gibson) averages 13 points per contest. Maybe a win over a former Cavalier will be enough redemption to right this ship. Good luck with that.

20. DETROIT PISTONS [down from 19]
Record: 6-12
Last 10: 4-6

The Pistons have dropped their last two and things aren’t about to get any better. The Heat, Magic, and Cavaliers are on the menu, or maybe it’s the other way around.

21. TORONTO RAPTORS [up from 22]
Record: 6-11
Last 10: 5-5

The four-game winning streak started and ended with the Boston Celtics. Next up are the Wizards, Thunder, Knicks, and Pacers. No need to worry, it’s not like head coach Jay Triano is looking past their next opponent, he’s taking it one game at a time.

22. MILWAUKEE BUCKS [down from 20]
Record: 6-11
Last 10: 4-6

If they can just string together a few victories ... (as if they’re the only team in the league thinking that). The future doesn’t look promising with Denver, Orlando, and Miami looking to add to the win column.

23. NEW JERSEY NETS [unchanged]
Record: 6-12
Last 10: 3-7

Sure this team is better than last year but so what. They average 93 ppg (29th), shoot 44 per cent from the floor (24th), and average just 18 assists per game meaning they don’t pass the ball. You see where this is going.

24. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS [unchanged]
Record: 6-11
Last 10: 5-5

If this team played ball as well as Stephen Jackson complains to the officials the Bobcats might get over the hump. Maybe we’ll discuss it after Jackson’s one-game suspension is over. Keep the tissues handy.
25. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS [up from 29]
Record: 5-13
Last 10 : 3-7

A two-game winning streak in Philly, if Atlanta doesn’t do something about that I’m sure Charlotte will. Practice? How I’m I suppose to make my teammates better by going to practice? That’s right AI, you can’t.
26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS [down from 21]
Record: 5-11
Last 10 : 3-7

A big overtime win over the Sixers! Now they have the Hawks, Magic, and Heat to look forward to.

27. HOUSTON ROCKETS [up from 28]
Record: 5-12
Last 10 : 4-6

Will the real Yao Ming please stand up? Never mind. Would the supporting cast please stand up?

28. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS [up from 30]
Record: 3-15
Last 10: 3-7

Blake Griffin for rookie of the year? Possibly, maybe even likely. Clippers moving up in the rankings? Unlikely.
29. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES [down from 27]
Record: 4-13
Last 10: 3-7

They’ve lost two straight and with the Spurs on the horizon there’s no real end in sight.

30. SACRAMENTO KINGS [down from 26]
Record: 4-12
Last 10: 1-9

They play hard but just don’t have many weapons. The struggle continues.