Top Five: NBA teams with something to be thankful about

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NBA,Craig Stouffer

The entire NBA knows LeBron James and Miami will still be the team to beat when it comes to winning a league title. For now, there are five teams counting blessings of early-season success over their turkey dinners.

5. Milwaukee (6-3) » The Bucks are thankful Brandon Jennings (16.7 ppg, 7.7 apg) and Monta Ellis (21.1 ppg, 5.8 apg) are both still sharing the ball despite how much each of them likes to have it in their own hands. Also, Larry Sanders (9.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) has grown dramatically in his third year at center.

4. Charlotte (5-4) » The Bobcats are thankful this year isn't last year, that Kemba Walker (18.8 ppg, 5.3 apg) is playing like he's at UConn again and that Brendan Haywood (7.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg) was ready for a move home to North Carolina.

3. Memphis (8-2) » The Grizzlies are thankful the punishment wasn't worse for Zach Randolph after his altercation with Kendrick Perkins last week and for early-season wins over Miami, Oklahoma City and New York. They'll need them in the tough Southwest Division.

2. Los Angeles Clippers (8-2) ?» The Clippers are thankful for the upgrade of Jamal Crawford (19.7 ppg) over Nick Young for sixth-man scoring punch and an experienced roster to satisfy the demands of Chris Paul, giving Lob City substance as well as style.

1. New York (7-1 through Monday) » The Knicks are thankful Jeremy Lin's departure is no longer a story, that J.R. Smith is partying less and that Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler make them feel, and look, like the 2011 Mavericks.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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