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Flukiest of losses ends the Mavericks' run

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Mar 15 2010 10:57AM

It's a long season and bad teams beat good teams every week. But no result this season was more flukey than the Knicks' 128-94 win in Dallas on Saturday. Let us count the ways ...

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 34-point margin was the largest in NBA history in a game that ended a winning streak of at least 13 games.

• The Mavs beat the Knicks by 50 points in New York on Jan. 24. According to Elias, the 84-point turnaround is the largest within one season in NBA history.

• It was the first time in eight games that the Mavs outrebounded their opponent. In their last seven wins, Dallas had been outrebounded by 7.6 boards per game, but they had 43 rebounds to the Knicks' 42 on Saturday.

• It was a road-road back-to-back for the Knicks, and the Mavs hadn't played since Wednesday. Prior to Saturday, the Knicks were 2-13 on the second night of a back-to-back, and Dallas was 8-0 when they had exactly two days of rest.

• The Mavs had won seven straight games at home against the Eastern Conference, and the Knicks were 1-8 on the road against the West.

• Exactly one week earlier, the Knicks lost to the Nets by 20 points.

Last week, we wrote that it was a strange streak for the Mavs, because they hadn't been all that consistent on either side of the ball. But no one expected the streak to end in the strangest of ways.

The loss dropped Dallas to fifth in this week's rankings. The longest current winning streak is now six games, held by the Bobcats, Bucks and Nuggets.

With one notable exception (see above), it was another week during which the good teams continued to play well and the bad teams continued to play poorly. So it was difficult for teams in the top 10 to move up and for the teams in the bottom 10 to move down. The Blazers actually moved down a spot after going 4-0 for the week.

• Last Week: Top 10 teams show why they're there

Spring Forward Team of the Week: Charlotte (4-0) -- The Bobcats capped their week with a huge win in Orlando on Sunday. That and a win over the Heat on Tuesday is keeping them in sixth place in the East, a much better place to be than seventh.
Fall Back Team of the Week: Chicago (0-3) -- The competition has been tough, but the Bulls haven't even been competitive as they've lost seven straight games by an average of 16.4 points.

High jumps of the week: Charlotte (+3), New York (+3), Three teams (+2)
Free falls of the week: Boston (-3), Toronto (-3), Three teams (-2)

East vs. West: The West is 216-166 (.565) in inter-conference games and was 14-6 last week.

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averages through Sunday are 95.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 104.5 points scored per 100 possessions.

NBA.com's Power Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Monday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on twitter.

TEAM (LAST WEEK) REC. BREAKDOWN
1 Cleveland (1) 52-15 Pace: 93.3 (25), Off: 109.1 (3), Def: 101.0 (7)
The Cavs didn't miss Mo Williams when he was out, and they're not missing Shaquille O'Neal right now. They're 7-1 since Shaq injured his thumb, with the loss coming without LeBron James. They have a week before they can re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
2 Orlando (2) 47-21 Pace: 94.7 (18), Off: 108.1 (7), Def: 99.6 (1)
Sunday's loss to the Bobcats, ending the Magic's eight-game winning streak, was just one of those games, with Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis combining to shoot 3-for-17. The Magic still lead the league in point differential per 100 possessions (+8.5).
3 L.A. Lakers (4) 48-18 Pace: 95.9 (9), Off: 106.0 (11), Def: 99.8 (3)
Another week, another Kobe Bryant game-winner. Before their schedule gets much tougher, the Lakers have the Warriors, Kings, Wolves and Wizards this week. Those four games could help their offense find some kind of rhythm heading into the home stretch.
4 Denver (5) 45-21 Pace: 97.9 (5), Off: 109.4 (2), Def: 104.2 (16)
Are the Nuggets finally getting some consistency out of J.R. Smith? He was 1-for-12 in Friday's win in New Orleans, but has otherwise shot 54 percent as his team has won six straight. Denver is 18-2 when Smith shoots better than 45 percent.
5 Dallas (3) 45-22 Pace: 94.7 (19), Off: 106.8 (10), Def: 103.4 (12)
Saturday's loss dropped the Mavs to a game behind the Nuggets in the loss column for second place in the West and home-court advantage in the conference semifinals. The season series is tied at one, and they meet once more, in Dallas on March 29.
6 Oklahoma City (7) 41-24 Pace: 95.4 (13), Off: 104.5 (13), Def: 100.4 (5)
With Sunday's win over Utah, the Thunder are just a half-game behind the Jazz for home-court advantage in what would be a great four-five series in the West. Oklahoma City has won all three meetings so far, with one more to play in Utah on April 6.
7 Utah (6) 42-24 Pace: 95.3 (14), Off: 107.6 (8), Def: 102.9 (10)
Perhaps a little road-weary and missing two starters on Sunday in Oklahoma City, the Jazz have dropped two straight for the first time since Jan. 4. Starting with the Wizards and Wolves, they play four of their next five at home, where they've won 13 of their last 15.
8 Atlanta (10) 42-23 Pace: 93.1 (26), Off: 108.9 (4), Def: 104.1 (14)
As the Bucks continue their tear, there's added importance on the Hawks' one-game lead over the Celtics for the three seed in the East. Though Atlanta swept the season series 4-0, Boston has the tiebreaker, because they will win their division.
9 Phoenix (8) 41-26 Pace: 97.9 (4), Off: 111.7 (1), Def: 107.8 (25)
The Suns are 17-9 since Robin Lopez replaced Channing Frye as the starting center, but their numbers are only slightly improved in that stretch. They've scored 112.6 points per 100 possessions and allowed 107.5 in those 26 games.
10 San Antonio (11) 39-25 Pace: 93.8 (24), Off: 107.1 (9), Def: 101.9 (9)
The competition hasn't been great, but the Spurs have been the eighth best offensive team (112.2) and third best defensive team (97.3) in March. We'll see how much that holds up as they play 14 of their remaining 18 games against teams with winning records.
TEAM (LAST WEEK) REC. BREAKDOWN
11 Milwaukee (13) 36-29 Pace: 94.8 (17), Off: 101.6 (23), Def: 100.4 (6)
Only 13 times this season has a team failed to make a single 3-pointer. Two of those times have come against the Bucks in the last 10 days. Opponents have shot just 29 percent from downtown and 42 percent overall as Milwaukee has won 12 of its last 13.
12 Boston (9) 41-24 Pace: 93.9 (22), Off: 104.5 (15), Def: 99.7 (2)
If it weren't for a 67-point first half against the Pacers, this would have been a disastrous week for the Celtics. Rasheed Wallace is now shooting 35 percent, 23 percent from 3-point range in 10 games against the Cavs, Magic and Hawks.
13 Portland (12) 41-28 Pace: 90.2 (30), Off: 108.2 (6), Def: 104.2 (15)
Averaging 13.6 offensive rebounds per game and scoring 114.2 points per 100 possessions, the Blazers have won seven of their last eight. So it's probably not the best time for a stretch of 10 days where they play just two games.
14 Miami (14) 35-32 Pace: 92.6 (28), Off: 104.1 (18), Def: 101.7 (8)
Suddenly, having won six of their last seven and playing more consistent defensively, the Heat look to be comfortably in playoff position. But they've got the Spurs, Magic and Bobcats this week, before playing eight of their last 12 games on the road.
15 Charlotte (18) 34-31 Pace: 93.0 (27), Off: 101.0 (25), Def: 100.2 (4)
The Bobcats' impressive six-game winning streak started with a 15-point victory over the Lakers, includes the Heat's only loss this month and continued Sunday with a road win over the Magic, who had been the league's best team over the last few weeks.
16 Memphis (16) 35-32 Pace: 95.6 (11), Off: 105.5 (12), Def: 107.3 (24)
Rudy Gay led all scorers with 28 points in Wednesday's win in Boston. It was the 12th time he'd gone for 26 or more this season, and 11 of those games have come on the road. That win was nice, but the Grizz have lost five straight against West playoff teams.
17 Houston (19) 33-31 Pace: 96.2 (7), Off: 103.9 (19), Def: 104.1 (13)
Kyle Lowry has played just four games in the last month and a half, and has shot 8-for-22 in that time, but he's a plus-57 in 76 minutes on the floor. The Rockets went 5-9 and basically lost their shot at the playoffs with Lowry out with a sprained ankle.
18 Toronto (15) 32-33 Pace: 95.6 (12), Off: 108.5 (5), Def: 110.1 (30)
The Raptors' defense over their last 10 games (117.1 rating) has been worse than it was in their first 20 (115.2). Chris Bosh's post-game tirade on Saturday didn't help much on Sunday, when they lost for the fifth time when shooting 54 percent or better.
19 Chicago (17) 31-34 Pace: 95.9 (10), Off: 100.2 (27), Def: 103.1 (11)
With their losing streak now at seven games, their defense looking Raptor-esque and Derrick Rose out with a sprained wrist, the Bulls' situation looks grim. Kirk Hinrich has shot 38 percent during the streak and is suspended for Tuesday's game in Memphis.
20 New Orleans (20) 32-35 Pace: 94.9 (15), Off: 104.4 (16), Def: 106.4 (18)
After a 9-3 stretch on the road, the Hornets have dropped seven straight away from the Hive. Their five-game trip west began with a 14-point loss in Phoenix on Sunday, putting them at 6-17 against the top eight in the West.
TEAM (LAST WEEK) REC. BREAKDOWN
21 Philadelphia (21) 23-43 Pace: 94.1 (21), Off: 102.8 (21), Def: 106.7 (21)
The Sixers gave the Cavs a challenge on Friday, but otherwise, the only thing they've got going for them is the play of Jrue Holiday. The rookie is averaging 13.4 points and five assists in March, shooting 50 percent, including 17-for-28 from 3-point range.
22 L.A. Clippers (22) 25-42 Pace: 94.8 (16), Off: 100.8 (26), Def: 106.6 (20)
The Clippers began March with a win over the Jazz, but they've been awful since. They've dropped seven straight games by an average of 20 points. For the month, they're the second worst offensive team (95.8) and the fourth worst defensive team (117.4).
23 Sacramento (24) 23-44 Pace: 96.9 (6), Off: 102.9 (20), Def: 107.3 (23)
Perhaps motivated by a snub in last week's Rookie Rankings, Tyreke Evans almost recorded two triple-doubles this week. But he settled for one, coming a rebound short in Sunday's win over the Wolves. The Kings are 10-3 when he grabs eight boards or more.
24 Detroit (25) 23-43 Pace: 91.3 (29), Off: 101.2 (24), Def: 107.1 (22)
On Friday, Will Bynum was the first Piston in 25 years to record 20 assists in a game, but No. 20 came on a Ben Gordon jumper with the Pistons up 12 and not needing to shoot. It wasn't quite a Ricky Davis moment, but still a somewhat tainted milestone.
25 Washington (23) 21-43 Pace: 94.5 (20), Off: 101.6 (22), Def: 106.6 (19)
No offense has been worse than the Wizards' in March. They haven't shot that bad overall, but they've hit just 20 percent from 3-point range and turned the ball over 17.3 times a game as they've gone 0-7 this month.
26 Indiana (26) 21-45 Pace: 100.0 (2), Off: 99.5 (28), Def: 104.6 (17)
The Pacers are on pace for their worst record in 24 years. They went 26-56 in 1985-86, the season Larry Bird won his third and final title with the Celtics. Since then, Indiana actually has seven more regular-season wins (1,013 to 1,006) than Boston.
27 New York (30) 23-43 Pace: 96.2 (8), Off: 104.4 (17), Def: 107.8 (26)
The Knicks went from losing to the Nets by 20 one week to beating two top 10 teams the next. The Jazz will be watching New York's two games with Philly closely this week. The two Atlantic teams are currently tied for lottery position.
28 Golden State (27) 18-47 Pace: 102.3 (1), Off: 104.5 (14), Def: 108.6 (29)
Stephen Curry picked up his fourth 30-and-10 game in Saturday's win over the Raptors. LeBron James (eight) and Dwyane Wade (six) are the only other players with more than three. Curry's father Dell scored 30-plus points just seven times in his 16-year career.
29 Minnesota (28) 14-53 Pace: 98.5 (3), Off: 98.5 (29), Def: 108.0 (27)
The Wolves' current losing streak is at nine games, with six more to go before they match their longest of the season. As bad as they were the last two seasons (46 wins total), they're on pace for their worst record since their third year of existence.
30 New Jersey (29) 7-59 Pace: 93.9 (23), Off: 96.9 (30), Def: 108.0 (28)
The Nets have 16 games left to get three wins and avoid making history. They managed exactly three over their last 16 with a somewhat improved offense (101.5 rating) and were relatively competitive in their four-game, winless trip through the southwest this week.
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