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NBA Power Rankings: Wolves inch closer to top 10

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Did back-to-back wins over the Wizards and Bucks help the Timberwolves in this week's installment of NBA power rankings?

Not by any dramatic means, but they are up 1-2 spots in most rankings. We couldn't find a single list that had the Wolves ranked above the any of the following teams: Thunder, Heat, Pacers, Blazers, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Warriors or Suns.

That's bad because seven of those teams reside in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Only eight teams make the playoffs, and the Wolves are currently in ninth... so it could be a very long, challenging rest of the season.

NBA.COM: No. 12 – The Wolves have been one of the worst fourth-quarter teams in the league this season. They've won the period in just 10 of their 30 games and their fourth-quarter shooting numbers are ugly. So it was good that they had double-digit leads entering the fourth in their two games last week. They play five of their next six at home, a stretch that includes big games against the Mavs, Pelicans and Suns.

ESPN: No. 10 – The Wolves have scored at least 120 points in three wins this month -- which is a franchise first -- and nearly did it again with 117 in a rout at Milwaukee. So we repeat: If you ranked teams purely on nightly point differential, Minnesota would be seventh in the whole league at +4.2.

PRO BASKETBALL TALK: No. 12 – Still keep waiting for this team to make a run and for their record to catch up with their point differential (+2.2 per 100 possessions, which suggests a 19-11 record). Win over Dallas Monday would help there against a team also in the bottom of the West playoff mix.

CBS SPORTS: No. 11 – They woke up one morning and their mojo was under the Christmas tree. This is more like what we expected from them this season.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: No. 11 – The Wolves have been playing better, but it's tough to imagine them beating out the three teams in front of them in the standings -- the Mavericks, Warriors or Suns -- for a playoff spot. Minnesota appears stymied in the NBA's "Good, But Not Great" no-man's land.

YAHOO! SPORTS: No. 12 – Kevin Love has an NBA-best 27 double-doubles so far and is averaging 29.5 points and 13.9 rebounds in December.

Minnesota could make a jump this week if they perform well in home games against the Mavericks, Hornets and Thunder.

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