NBA Power Rankings: Mavericks, Suns, Bulls climb; Thunder still at the top
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-12, Previous: 1) - The Thunder had lost their last two road games heading into Tuesday night’s game in Portland. The good news for the Thunder? Kevin Durant is averaging 38.7 points per game in three games against Portland this season.
2. Indiana Pacers (40-11, Previous: 2) – The Pacers have had five different high scorers in their last six games (5-1). If that doesn’t show you just how deep and talented this team is, nothing will.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (36-18, Previous: 3) - The Clippers went 12-6 without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, and now that he’s back they have to be feeling really good about themselves heading into the All-Star break.
4. Houston Rockets (35-17, Previous: 4) - Six straight wins for the Rockets, who are now rolling. Tough five-game road trip to come post-All-Star break, but it’s nothing they can’t handle.
5. Portland Trailblazers (36-15, Previous: 5) - There will be no “break” for Damian Lillard, who will participate in every single All-Star Weekend event (not to mention all the parties). It’s cool for NBA fans, but is it a good idea for him and the Blazers?
6. Miami Heat (35-14, Previous: 6) - LeBron James held his own dunk contest after practice on Monday. That’s his very LeBron way of saying he’s the best dunker in the NBA, even though he won’t participate the Dunk Contest. Grrrrr.
7. San Antonio Spurs (37-15 Previous: 7) - Are they strong enough to take down the best? Or will they be buyers at the trade deadline? A deal before the deadline may be in order if they want to last.
8. Golden State Warriors (31-21, Previous: 8) - It’ll be must-see TV for NBA junkies Wednesday night when the Heat head to ORACLE Arena. That said, neither team is playing their best basketball.
9. Phoenix Suns (30-20, Previous: 10) - There was a recent report that the Suns may be interested in Celtics forward Brandon Bass. Whether they acquire him or someone else, it’s cool to see what many thought to be a lottery team become buyers at the trade deadline.
10. Dallas Mavericks (31-21, Previous: 12) - The Mavs are doing everything in their power to hold on to a playoff spot. An impressive five-game winning streak keeps the Memphis Grizzlies on the outside looking in, and puts heat on the Warriors and Suns.
11. Memphis Grizzlies (27-23, Previous: 9) - The Grizzlies have hit a speed bump, having lost three of their last four games, including a crucial one to the Mavs, who sit one spot ahead of them in the standings.
12. Toronto Raptors (27-24, Previous: 13) – The Raptors have a tough decision to make – trade Kyle Lowry while his value his high and get pieces to help in future, or keep Lowry, fight for a playoff series win, and potentially lose him in free agency for nothing.
13. Atlanta Hawks (25-24, Previous: 11) - Uh oh. Three straight losses for the Hawks, and a tough back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday against the Bulls and Raptors. They could slide to below .500 at the break.
14. Washington Wizards (25-25, Previous: 14) - The Wiz have a tough road back-to-back before the All-Star break in Memphis and then Houston. The big question is whether or not they’ll add someone before the Feb. 20 deadline.
15. Chicago Bulls (25-25, Previous: 18) - Don’t tell Bulls fans their team is just a .500, mediocre squad. Chicago’s home games average 21,653 fans per night, which is tops in the NBA.
16. Brooklyn Nets (23-26, Previous: 16) - All the Nets can do is rest up over the All-Star break and come back ready to go to battle for the rest of the season. It won’t be easy.
17. Denver Nuggets (24-26, Previous: 15) - Another week, another injury. This time it’s to starting point guard Ty Lawson, who cracked a rib. It’s been one of those seasons for the Nuggets.
18. Detroit Pistons (22-29, Previous: 19) – Three weeks ago, we asked if Maurice Cheeks’ seat was getting hot. It looks like we got our answer. Detroit won its first game without him, 109-100, over the Spurs.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-28, Previous: 17) - Kevin Love leads the league in double-doubles with 43. He’s going to make some other team an instant contender some day (sorry, Minnesota).
20. Charlotte Bobcats (22-29, Previous: 20) - The Bobcats would be smart to acquire some talent and make a run for that No. 6 position in the East. Otherwise, it’s a first round exit for sure.
21. New Orleans Pelicans (22-29, Previous: 22) – The big news out of New Orleans is that their mascot Pierre the Pelican – yes, that’s his name – is having reconstructive beak surgery. Are we all 12-years-old?
22. New York Knicks (20-31, Previous: 21) - Maurice Cheeks got the boot. One would think Mike Woodson could be next head coach to go if the Knicks don’t magically turn things around here.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (18-33, Previous: 23) - Honestly, the Cavs don’t deserve another top pick in the NBA Draft. They don’t deserve the playoffs either. We banish them to mediocrity!
24. Boston Celtics (19-34, Previous: 25) - The Celtics have already doubled the wins in February (four) that they had in January (two). Hey, if Marcus Smart loses his cool one more time, maybe he’ll fall to them in the draft.
25. Utah Jazz (17-33, Previous: 24) - The Jazz beat the Heat for the third straight time in Utah. With games against the Lakers and Sixers, we could have another win streak on our hands.
26. Sacramento Kings (17-34, Previous: 26) - DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 22.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. But he won’t be going to the All-Star game this year. His response to that on Twitter? “Politics… ha!”
27. Los Angeles Lakers (18-33, Previous: 27) - Steve Nash just turned 40-years-old. It’ll be a lot easier for him to forget this season than it will be for his younger teammates.
28. Orlando Magic (16-37, Previous: 29) - Three wins in a row for Orlando, including two over arguably the best team in each conference, the Thunder and Pacers. Now’s a good time for that “broken clock is right twice” saying.
29. Philadelphia 76ers (15-38, Previous: 28) - Losses to the Clippers on Sunday (123-78) and Warriors on Monday (123-80) made them the second team ever to lose back-to-back games by 40-plus points. Redefining the tanking game.
30. Milwaukee Bucks (9-42, Previous: 30) - The Bucks have one more shot (Wed. vs. New Orleans) to get to double-digit wins by the All-Star break. Don’t bet on it.