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NBA Power Rankings: Wolves in the middle of the pack

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After dropping like a rock in last week's NBA power rankings and receiving negative midseason grades from every respectable media outlet, the Timberwolves made a slight jump in this week's power rankings.

Minnesota has a busy slate of four games this week. They play at Chicago Monday, host New Orleans and Memphis Wednesday and Friday before closing the week in Atlanta on Saturday.

NBA.COM: No. 15 – If Ricky Rubio earned some karma by playing ball with a little girl in Utah, it was enough to get the Wolves their first win by four points or less (three nights later) and for Rubio to get his first fourth-quarter basket in over five weeks, but not enough to get them back over .500 in Portland on Saturday. They've allowed over 110 points per 100 possessions in their 10 failed attempts to get over. 

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: No. 16 – Despite ranking 11th in net rating, the Wolves are still 3½ games out of a playoff spot. Their offense and defense both rank in the top 14 in efficiency, but Minnesota doesn't have a winning record -- thanks in part to its struggles in close games. With Friday's 121-120 victory over the Warriors, Minnesota improved to 1-11 in games decided by four points or fewer.

ESPN: No. 17 – Gonna try to keep it positive here, for once, after the Wolves finally won a game decided by four points or less. More positivity: Newly minted All-Star starter Kevin Love is on pace to become the first player to average 25+ PPG, 13+ RPG and 4+ APG in a single season since Kareem in 1975-76.

CBS SPORTS: No. 16 – They won an actual, real-life close game! Our baby is all grown up! Maybe the last of the storms have passed the Wolves.

FOX SPORTS: No. 16 – Disappointment wasn’t supposed to look this way for the Wolves. If the Wolves were going to be under .500 at the halfway mark, it was supposed to because of injuries. A losing record after 41 games isn’t easy to explain: Love has been fantastic, they’re ranked second in the league at 106.5 ppg, they rebound, mostly defend and share the ball. The problem is that the Wolves can't beat good teams (6-17 against records .500 and above) and lose their close games (0-5 in games decided by three points or less).

PRO BASKETBALL TALK: No. 17 – Finally Minnesota picked up their first win of the season by 5 or fewer points this week, beating Golden State by one on Friday night. They still remain one game below .500 and are 0-10 when trying to crack that barrier. We’ll see if they can get over the hump with the Bulls, Pelicans, Grizzlies and Hawks up on the docket this week.

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