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NBA Power Rankings: Clippers, Bulls Thunder rise

Only another injury to Stephen Curry could derail the Warriors.Getty Images

1. Golden State Warriors (43-10, Previous: 2) - Three huge road games in Washington, Cleveland, and Toronto will really test this team - and the hope is that Steph Curry, who missed his first game of the season with a sore right ankle, can play in them.

2. Atlanta Hawks (44-12, Previous: 1) - A 25-point loss to the second-place Raptors knocks Atlanta from the top spot, though its grasp on the East is still pretty tight. Perhaps it was a kick in the butt after the All-Star break.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (41-14, Previous: 3) - Grit. Grind. Griz. If they keep playing defense the way they have been all season, they're going to continue to win a ton of games - including those in the playoffs.

4. Portland Trailblazers (36-19, Previous: 4) - Portland needed to bulk up its bench, and did so by trading for Arron Afflalo at the deadline. But the Blazers have lost their first two games out of the break, and LaMarcus Aldridge has a thumb injury.

5. Houston Rockets (38-18, Previous: 7) - The "James Harden for MVP" calls are becoming louder, and they're deserved - just ask Ricky Rubio, who may need to ice his ankles after Harden's crossover (and triple-double) on Monday.

6. Toronto Raptors (37-19, Previous: 5) - The Raptors didn't make one single move at the trade deadline. Sometimes the biggest risk is not taking one at all. Then again, the Raps are pretty good as is.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35-22, Previous: 9) - 16-2 over their last 18 games … yeah, I'd say they've figured things out. And adding Kendrick Perkins gives them some needed size down low.

8. Dallas Mavericks (38-20, Previous: 8) - Nice get by the Mavericks in Amar'e Stoudemire, who will provide a big boost off the bench for them. He's past the point of being a star but can absolutely help on a championship contender.

9. Los Angeles Clippers (37-20, Previous: 12) - The Clips are playing a lot better than expected without Blake Griffin, and are actually scoring more points since he went down with a staff infection in his elbow.

10. Chicago Bulls (36-21, Previous: 13) - Jimmy Butler is playing through a left thumb injury, Taj Gibson is playing through a left hand injury. The Bulls are a tough bunch. They might be the toughest in the East.

11. San Antonio Spurs (34-22, Previous: 6) - Man, just 81 points in a loss to the Jazz Monday night? That isn't really the Spurs we've all come to know. They're looking like a 7 or 8 seed. But in the playoffs, they're a better team.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (31-25, Previous: 14) - The Thunder have won six in a row and now officially hold the eighth seed out West. But what about Kevin Durant's foot injury? Can Russell Westbrook continue to lead the team without him?

13. Phoenix Suns (29-28, Previous: 10) - Trading away Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas and bringing in Brandon Knight is one way to shake things up. It's also going to make things more difficult for a team already on the outside looking in.

14. Washington Wizards (33-23, Previous: 11) - Yikes. The Wizards are going through a tough stretch - 2-8 over their last 10 games - after double-digit losses to the Cavs and Pistons out of the All-Star break. With Golden State on tap tonight, things could get worse.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (31-25, Previous: 15) - Interesting last week for the Bucks, trading Brandon Knight, acquiring Michael Carter-Williams, and buying out Larry Sanders. I get the Sanders move, but the trade is TBD as Knight was a huge part of this surprising team.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (27-25, Previous: 16) - The Pelicans somehow took down the Raptors without Anthony Davis on Monday, but a shoulder strain is going to keep him out for a week or two. Awful timing with Pelicans on playoff bubble.

17. Miami Heat (24-31, Previous: 18) - The Heat organization went from a high in trading for Goran Dragic to a low in hearing Chris Bosh will be out for the season due to blood clots on his lung. The best news is that Bosh will be OK. But the Heat are nothing without him.

18. Brooklyn Nets (23-31, Previous: 20) - With the injury to Chris Bosh and the fact Brooklyn held onto Brook Lopez after all (while acquiring Thad Young), the Nets could actually remain a playoff team.

19. Detroit Pistons (23-33, Previous: 19) - The Pistons traded for Tayshaun Prince with the intention of using him for a playoff push. It sounds like Prince was hoping for a buyout from Boston. Awkward…

20. Indiana Pacers (23-33, Previous: 22) - Three straight wins for Indy including one over the Warriors (without Steph Curry). If Paul George does come back in mid-March, we could definitely see the Pacers sneak into the playoffs.

21. Sacramento Kings (19-35, Previous: 21) - It baffles me that DeMarcus Cousins' name would come up in trade rumors. If he's not on the Kings for the best years of his career, they deserve every losing season that comes to them.

22. Boston Celtics (21-33, Previous: 23) - The Celtics were in desperate need of some offense, and Danny Ainge pulled off a great trade in acquiring guard Isaiah Thomas for basically a late first-round pick next year. Bravo.

13. Charlotte Hornets (22-32, Previous: 17) - It's not looking good at all for the Bobcats, who have now lost five straight games. Both the Pacers and Pistons are now ahead of them in the race for a playoff spot.

24. Utah Jazz (21-34, Previous: 24) - A little rest and relaxation seems to have gone a long way for the Jazz, who beat the Blazers, 92-76, and Spurs, 90-81, out of the All-Star break. Now watch them lose to the Lakers on Wednesday.

25. Orlando Magic (19-39, Previous: 26) - The Magic seem to be at a similar point as the Celtics, in that winning may not be such an awful thing, despite creating a worse chance for a better lottery pick.

26. Denver Nuggets (20-36, Previous: 25) - One of the biggest sellers on deadline day, the Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo to the Blazers and Javale McGee (and a first-round pick) to the Sixers. Tough to trade first-rounders when you're beginning to rebuild…

27. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-43, Previous: 27) - It's cool that the Timberwolves traded for Kevin Garnett, where he'll presumably finish his career. But I'm kind of surprised KG didn't want one last chance at a ring. Unless he knows something about the Wolves nobody else does.

28. Philadelphia 76ers (12-44, Previous: 28) - Just when you thought the Philadelphia 76ers couldn't get any worse, they go and do something like trading away Michael Carter-Williams . . . and totally redeem themselves!

29. Los Angeles Lakers (14-41, Previous: 29) - The Lakers snapped a seven-game losing streak in a win against the Celtics on Sunday and celebrated like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

30. New York Knicks (10-45, Previous: 30) - Phil Jackson can't have it both ways. If he wants the Knicks to stink, fine, but don't then criticize them for them stinking. They are designed to stink.

 
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