Well, well, well ... as it turns out, it was possible for the Lakers and the Hornets to lose games. So, the biggest news of week three in the NBA is that the unbeatens are no more. Glancing around the Week 3 NBA Power Rankings, things still look remarkably similar to last week, though.
There were no hugely shocking upsets or tumbles.The almighty Miami Heat continue to be mired in so-so land, trying to figure out how the big three can coexist successfully while calls to trade Bosh emerge from the darkest corners of fandom around the globe.
Chris Paul has made a (very, very) early case for MVP, averaging 17.6 points, 10.1 assists and 2.78 steals over the 8-1 Hornets' first nine games. However, those pesky-ass San Antonio Spurs are right on their heels in the Southwest division, also going 8-1 with dandy contributions from Richard Jefferson, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, all of whom were assumed to have been hobbled by what doctors like to call "advanced age."
In other surprises, our Phoenix Suns have gained some ground in the rankings after a three-game win streak that included impressive back-to-back victories over the Lakers (at the Staples Center) and the Nuggets (at home). Though Robin Lopez is now out several weeks with another injury that is sure to linger inexplicably and the team has actually played Hakim Warrick at center, the scrappiness from last season's team continues on unabated.
The Celtics (8-2), despite featuring a number of players that likely kept small dinosaurs as pets when they were children, continue their strong team-oriented play, helped tremendously by Rajon Rondo's ridiculously good assist numbers and not helped so tremendously by his ridiculously bad free throw shooting percentage.
Cellar Dweller Alert: The Detroit Pistons seem destined to completely implode at some point this season, probably sooner rather than later. Tayshaun Prince hates coach John Kuester. Rodney Stuckey hates coach John Kuester. Rip Hamilton might hate coach John Kuester. Will GM Joe Dumars be hiring his fourth head coach in three years? Also, the Toronto Raptors continue to be the most vanilla team the NBA has to offer. Every day, I forget that team exists until I hear, in my quietest moments, the heavy sobs of Leandro Barbosa from across the icy Canadian tundra.
And now, on to this week's rankings:
SBNation.com | NBA Power Rankings, Week 3: Western Conference Contenders Emerge, But Celtics Are Top Dogs
It's still early to start dooming teams to the lottery or granting them the ability to win a championship. That said, you're starting to see patterns emerge. It's becoming a lot harder for a team like the Raptors to climb out of a six-game hole, and a lot harder for the Celtics or Lakers to fall flat on their face.
NBA.com | Hornets emerge on top after eventful week
At some point in March, we might start wishing the playoffs would get here already. Nothing beats the intensity and excitement of postseason basketball. But the last seven days around the league are a perfect example of why we love the 1,230-game journey that is the NBA regular season.
ESPN.com | NBA Basketball Power Rankings
Doesn't happen often that a team outside the generally accepted clutch of certifiable title contenders can seize the No. 1 spot in ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings. The surprising New Orleans Hornets, however, are as close as you can get.
SI.com | Hornets overtake Lakers for No. 1 spot in NBA Power Rankings
There is a game within a game within a game within a game during every NBA game, and tumbling down that rabbit hole is one of my favorite parts of observing the league. Not incidentally, it helps inform many of the comments in the Power Rankings below.
FOXSports.com | NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams
The Lakers and Hornets are human. The Heat have been humbled. We're starting to find out more about all 30 teams' strengths and weaknesses as teams encounter injuries, road trips and tough stretches. The view from here remains that the Lakers and Celtics are still a cut above the field, but a few teams are knocking on the door.
ProBasketballTalk.com | NBA Power Rankings, where we have a new number one
Our weekly NBA Power Rankings, or, how Laker fans shouldn’t panic unless they get up by 18 against the Jazz.
DimeMag.com | Dime NBA Power Ranking: Hornets grab No. 1 spot, but for how long?
Ranking the NBA from worst to first …