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NBA D-League Power Rankings: January 13, 2012

January 13, 2012: The first post-D-League Showcase Power Rankings are below, with five teams -- Austin, Iowa, Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Tulsa -- solidifying their status as the best teams in the league, dominating the Top Six of the Rankings for the past four weeks straight. As rosters and playing rotations settle down after the D-Showcase, the rest of the league will be working hard to move up into this elite group, while the Big Five attempt to continue their momentum heading into the playoff push.

----- 1st last week
After holding onto the top spot in the Rankings last week, thus ending the curse of No. 1, Austin went out and steamrolled the opposition for five consecutive victories, topping Maine, Texas, Tulsa, Erie and Dakota. Stellar guard Justin Dentmon, who must be on the radar of NBA GMs by now, dominated for the Toros, averaging 26.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game during the five-game win streak. The schedule gets a bit tougher this weekend with games at Bakersfield and Reno.
----- 2nd last week
Iowa held firm at No. 2 in the Power Rankings with a 3-1 record for the week, including a thrilling 1-02-97 victory over the Canton Charge on the last day of the D-League Showcase in Reno, Nevada. Guard Mike Efevberha led the Energy with 20 points in the win, while forward Marqus Blakely had a terrific all-around game, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Iowa begins a five-game homestand on Sun, Jan. 15 against the Tulsa 66ers.
------ 3rd last week
Look out for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, who are No. 3 in the Power Rankings with an eye toward higher ground. LA has not lost a game since before Christmas, and has reeled off seven straight wins, the last coming on Wednesday in the D-League Showcase, where former NBA Slam Dunk Champion Gerald Green poured in 34 points in a 106-94 victory over Maine. The D-Fenders next three games are on the road against Idaho (twice) and Bakersfield.
6th last week
Tulsa went 3-2 for the week, moving up two spots in the Rankings, culminating with a 111-92 win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the final day of the D-League Showcase. Top prospect Marcus Lewis recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 boards against the Mad Ants. The 66ers have two road games this weekend (Fri. at Dakota and Sun. at Iowa) before hosting Canton on Mon. Jan. 16.
-----5th last week
Bakersfield held serve in the 5th spot thanks to a 2-2 record for the week, highlighted by a 113-98 win over Idaho in the D-League Showcase. Nevada native Juan Patillo took advantage of the familiar surroundings at the Showcase against Idaho, scoring a game-high 33 points and grabbing nine rebounds for the Jam. Bakersfield has three straight road games, visiting Austin, Sioux Falls and Los Angeles before hosting the D-Fenders on Jan. 26.
4th last week
Rio Grande Valley had an off week, going 1-3 and slipping two slots in the Rankings. The Vipers lost to Reno and Springfield and split a pair of games against Dakota, the winner sparked by a superlative effort from Houston Rockets assignee Marcus Morris, who scored a team-high 32 points and grabbed 12 boards in the win. Rio Grande Valley hits the road for four straight games starting this weekend at Canton (Sat, Jan. 14).
-----7th last week
Reno had a successful 3-2 week, punctuated by Friday's 118-98 matinee win over the Sioux Falls Skyforce at the Reno Events Center. Blake Ahearn and Andre Emmett, who shared D-League Performer of the Week honors a few weeks ago, again led the way for the Bighorns with Emmett pouring in a game-high 34 points and grabbing 10 boards, while Ahearn chipped in with 26 points. Reno continues it's four-game homestand against Austin on Sun, Jan. 15.
------8th last week
Springfield was at .500 for the week (2-2) and for the season (9-9), maintaining their grasp of the 8th spot in the Power Rankings. Former Louisville standout Preston Knowles kept the Armor from dropping below .500 with a clutch three-pointer with 5.6 seconds left to post a 100-99 win over the Vipers at the Showcase. Springfield could make a move up the Rankings this week as a home-and-away series with Maine is slated for this weekend.
10th last week
Canton also kept the status quo, record-wise, for the week, going 3-3. The big win for the period was a 99-94 victory over Dakota catapulting the Charge over the Wizards in the Rankings. Former NBA player Keith McCloud, who was in Utah Jazz camp in December, scored a game-high 18 points for Canton in the win. The Charge host the Vipers on Sat. Jan. 14 before embarking on a four-game road trip through Oklahoma (Tulsa) and Texas (Austin and Frisco).
9th last week
Dakota slipped to No. 10 with a 1-3 week, despite the strong play of top prospect Edwin Ubiles. The 6-6, 204-pound swingman out of Siena had a strong Showcase, including a 22-point effort in a loss to the league-leading Austin Toros on the last day of the event. Ubiles, who was one of the last cuts in the training camp for affiliated NBA club, the Golden State Warriors, will spearhead an effort to get back in the win column against Tulsa and Fort Wayne this weekend.
12th last week
Similarily Erie went 2-2 for the week, but hopped over Idaho in the Rankings due to a 103-101 head-to-head victory over the Stampede at the Showcase. Mike James (called up to the Chicago Bulls after the game) sparked the win with a game-high 23 points for the BayHawks, while top prospect Chris Daniels chipped in with 19 points. Erie hosts the Texas Legends for a pair of games this weekend (Jan. 13-14) before traveling to Maine for a pair of matchups next week.
11th last week
Idaho dropped in the Rankings with a 1-3 record for the week, but things could be looking up for the Stampede as former NBA player Mikki Moore has joined the team. Moore had nine points, three rebounds and blocked a shot in 21 minutes of game action against the Bakersfield Jam at the Showcase and could provide a spark when he gets acclimated to his teammates. Idaho hosts four very tough games over the next two weeks, against the D-Fenders (Jan. 13-14) and Toros (Jan. 20-21).
-----13th last week
The Legends were the talk of the D-League this week as Yi Jianlin recorded a pair of double-doubles in two games with Texas before heading up to the Dallas Mavericks. Coupled with the recent signing of former Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag, the Legends are making some noise and are hoping to convert the buzz into wins this weekend when the play a pair of games at Erie (Jan. 13-14).
------14th last week
Fort Wayne split four games this week, maintaining the 14th spot in the Rankings, but things could be improving for the Mad Ants as Walker Russell has returned from NBA training camp with a vengeance. Russell posted a 19-point, 19-rebound game in a big win over Bakersfield at the Showcase on Jan. 9 and poured in 19 again in a loss to the 66ers. Fort Wayne hosts Dakota twice this week (Jan. 15, Jan 17).
16th last week
Maine won back-to-back games for the first time this season, defeating the Legends 113-102 on Jan. 8 and the Skyforce 98-92 on Jan. 10. Forward Justin Brownlee led the Red Claws with 24 points vs Texas and guard Xavier Silas scored 21 in the win over Sioux Falls. Maine plays three straight against Springfield (Jan. 14, Jan. 15 and Jan. 19).
15th last week
Sioux Falls had a challenging week, dropping five straight in a hectic schedule including the D-League Showcase. New signing Patrick Ewing, Jr. had 13 points in his second game back with the Skyforce, a 118-98 loss on Jan. 13, while former West Virginia standout Casey Mitchell scored a team-high 28 points in Reno. Sioux Falls plays at Bakersfield on Jan. 14 and hosts Rio Grande Valley on Jan. 17.