Since Kevin Durant made his season debut seven games ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder have won their past six games in a row.
All six of those wins have come against teams that missed the playoffs last year and although the Cleveland Cavaliers still remain the favorites (based on Vegas odds) to win it all, the Cavs were without LeBron James (knee) when they faced the Thunder last week.
That said, the Thunder have beaten the opponents on their schedule and are now just two games under .500 and only one-half game behind the Phoenix Suns, who currently occupy the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Their next game is against the Kings, who have been without DeMarcus Cousins for nine consecutive games and have lost eight of their past 10 games. Before his bout with viral meningitis, Cousins had seven consecutive double-doubles with at least 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Assuming the Thunder beat the DMC-less Kings, they will try to get back to .500 against the Golden State Warriors, who have now won 16 consecutive games.
Kobe Bryant moves into third all-time in scoring
While Magic Johnson would like the Lakers to lose all of their remaining games to get the highest 2015 NBA Draft pick as possible, it should come as no surprise that Kobe Bryant isn't on board with that philosophy.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, if their first-round pick is outside of the top-five selections, they will send that selection to Phoenix as part of the deal that led to the acquisition of Steve Nash.
That said, the Lakers have won three consecutive games and five of their past eight games.
Despite shooting a career-low 38.6 percent from the field in his 19th NBA season, Bryant is one of the all-time greatest scorers the game has ever seen. With 26 points last night against the Timberwolves, Bryant moved past Michael Jordan for third all-time in the career scoring list.
Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928) have more career points than Bryant (32,310). Meanwhile, Jordan (30.12) and Wilt Chamberlain (30.07) are the only two players that have averaged more than 30 points per game over their careers; Bryant is 10th on that list at 25.46 PPG.
It's unlikely that Bryant plays long enough to catch Malone.
Pau Gasol, the double-double machine
Bryant's ex-teammate Pau Gasol is currently tied with three others for the most double-doubles (14) this season.
Averaging 19.0 points and a career-high 11.9 rebounds per game, Gasol had just nine points and nine rebounds on Sunday, but he had double-doubles in all of his previous eight games. Of the six games in which he has not had a double-double this season, Gasol was short by one point and/or one rebound in four of those games.
In other words, Gasol has 18 games (out of his 20 games played) this season with nine-plus points and nine-plus rebounds.
Gasol had 30 double-doubles in 60 games last season and only 15 of them in 49 games in the 2012-13 season.
Here are my Week 8 NBA Power Rankings:
1. Golden State Warriors (Record 21-2, Last Week 1)
2. Memphis Grizzlies (Record 19-4, Last Week 2)
3. San Antonio Spurs (Record 17-7, Last Week 3)
4. Houston Rockets (Record 18-5, Last Week 5)
5. Portland Trail Blazers (Record 18-6, Last Week 4)
6. Toronto Raptors (Record 18-6, Last Week 6)
7. Washington Wizards (Record 17-6, Last Week 10)
8. Los Angeles Clippers (Record 16-7, Last Week 9)
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record 13-9, Last Week 7)
10. Dallas Mavericks (Record 17-8, Last Week 8)
11. Chicago Bulls (Record 15-8, Last Week 11)
12. Atlanta Hawks (Record 16-7, Last Week 12)
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record 11-13, Last Week 16)
14. Phoenix Suns (Record 12-13, Last Week 13)
15. Sacramento Kings (Record 11-13, Last Week 14)
16. Miami Heat (Record 11-13, Last Week 15)
17. New Orleans Pelicans (Record 11-12, Last Week 18)
18. Milwaukee Bucks (Record 12-12, Last Week 17)
19. Denver Nuggets (Record 10-14, Last Week 19)
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record 10-12, Last Week 20)
21. Los Angeles Lakers (Record 8-16, Last Week 24)
22. Orlando Magic (Record 10-16, Last Week 22)
23. Indiana Pacers (Record 7-17, Last Week 23)
24. Boston Celtics (Record 7-14, Last Week 21)
25. Charlotte Hornets (Record 6-17, Last Week 25)
26. Utah Jazz (Record 6-18, Last Week 26)
27. Detroit Pistons (Record 5-19, Last Week 29)
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record 5-18, Last Week 27)
29. New York Knicks (Record 5-21, Last Week 28)
30. Philadelphia 76ers (Record 2-21, Last Week 30)
Also, check out our Fantasy Basketball Rest-of-Season Rankings
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