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Spurs stay on top as Heat slide out of top 10

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Nov 29 2010 9:27AM

Yes, this is the same guy who asked if the Miami Heat were really doing so poorly just four days ago. The same one that's quick to tell you that Miami is the only team that stands in the top seven of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. That the Heat aren't bad. They're just playing that way.

And yes, statistics do play a part in ranking the teams every week. Point differential and strength of schedule can't be ignored. But neither can results. And Miami's results say that they're a mediocre team right now.

Will they stay on their current pace and win just 43 games? No way. They'll be much closer to the 60-win mark that their point differential suggests. But until they start playing to their potential on a consistent basis, the Heat's overall statistics aren't going to help them in the rankings.

• Last week: Spurs take the top spot with 10 straight
• This time last year: The Cream Rises to the Top - The Magic were No. 1, Carmelo Anthony dropped 50 on the Knicks, the Warriors beat the Mavs with only six guys, the Nets were 0-17, and Paul Pierce did this to Chris Bosh.

Hero Team of the Week: Dallas (4-0) - Road wins over the Thunder and Spurs is impressive enough, but forcing the Heat to call a team meeting is a nice way to cap a perfect week.
Zero Team of the Week: Sacramento (0-3) - When you lose to the Clippers by 18, you go straight to the Power Rankings basement.

High jumps of the week: Boston (+3), Denver (+3), Indiana (+3), Utah (+3)
Free falls of the week: Miami (-6), Sacramento (-6), New Orleans (-5)

East vs. West: The West is 52-37 (.584) against the East in inter-conference games this season and was 7-6 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 95.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 104.2 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 have 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.

1 San Antonio (14-2)
Pace: 96.9 (8), Off: 109.1 (3), Def: 100.8 (9)
The Spurs' 12-game winning streak came to an end on Friday, but they rebounded as well as you can, handing the Hornets their first home loss of the season on Sunday with a 65-34 second half. They have the best record in the league with Tim Duncan averaging just 29.3 minutes and 14 points per game.
Previous: 1

2 Boston (12-4)
Pace: 92.6 (26), Off: 106.8 (8), Def: 98.5 (1)
Rajon Rondo (hamstring) is back, but Jermaine O'Neal (knee) is still out and the Celtics lost Delonte West indefinitely when he broke his wrist on Wednesday. Shaquille O'Neal had a bit of a renaissance last week, making 20 of his 23 shots and averaging 18 points and 10.3 rebounds in the Celtics' three wins.
Previous: 5

3 Orlando (12-4)
Pace: 93.5 (20), Off: 106.4 (11), Def: 98.8 (3)
The Magic got some revenge on the Heat, but regressed defensively with Vince Carter missing three-plus games with a sprained knee. Both this season and last, the numbers say that the Magic have suffered more defensively when J.J. Redick replaces Carter than when Marcin Gortat replaces Dwight Howard.
Previous: 4

4 L.A. Lakers (13-4)
Pace: 97.9 (6), Off: 111.6 (1), Def: 102.7 (11)
You knew the Lakers' had to cool off at some point. Shannon Brown clearly worked on his jumper this summer, but he's still not Steve Kerr. L.A. shot just 40 percent in its three games last week and just 11-for-38 from 3-point range in losses to the Jazz and Pacers.
Previous: 3

5 Dallas (12-4)
Pace: 92.1 (27), Off: 106.7 (9), Def: 100.1 (8)
So in hindsight, the Mavs did pretty well with Erick Dampier's non-guaranteed contract. Finally healthy again, Tyson Chandler is shooting 70 percent and is close to averaging a double-double, while anchoring a much-improved defense. He's even shooting 80 percent from the line.
Previous: 7

6 Utah (13-5)
Pace: 94.1 (19), Off: 105.4 (12), Def: 102.6 (10)
Just when you thought the comebacks were over ... The Jazz did it again. Perhaps the Lakers forgot to read the game notes. Utah is just the 11th best team in the league statistically and not exactly consistently good on either end of the floor, but the Jazz are now 5-0 in games decided by six points or less.
Previous: 9

7 New Orleans (12-4)
Pace: 92.6 (25), Off: 104.4 (14), Def: 99.3 (4)
The Hornets still have the most improved defense in the league by far, but that defense showed some more cracks in their three losses last week. And they have three top-10 offenses on their schedule this week, including the Spurs again on Sunday. You could certainly call it a critical stretch for Monty Williams' group.
Previous: 2

8 Oklahoma City (11-6)
Pace: 95.5 (15), Off: 106.6 (10), Def: 105.9 (21)
It doesn't say here that Russell Westbrook is better than Kevin Durant. But it does say that Westbrook has played better than Durant this season. And, oh my, this is something KD could never do. The new and improved Westbrook faces Chris Paul for the first time on Monday.
Previous: 8

9 Denver (10-6)
Pace: 98.7 (4), Off: 107.8 (4), Def: 104.6 (16)
Chauncey Billups missed two games and Carmelo Anthony missed (almost all of) one last week, but the Nuggets have won more than two straight games for the first time this season. They beat the Bulls with defense and Anthony's buzzer-beater, and they beat the Suns with 138 points.
Previous: 12

10 Chicago (9-6)
Pace: 96.5 (10), Off: 103.4 (18), Def: 99.8 (5)
The Bulls' defense travels well. They shot just 44 percent on their Circus Trip, but went 4-3 by holding their opponents to less than a point per possession. Their schedule doesn't exactly get easier now that the trip is over though. They face the Magic and Celtics this week and the Thunder and Lakers next week.
Previous: 10

11 Indiana (8-7)
Pace: 96.3 (11), Off: 102.3 (20), Def: 99.9 (6)
The East has a new defensive power. The Pacers handed both the Heat and Lakers their worst offensive games of the season last week. They're 3-2 in their last five, with only a four-point loss to Orlando and an OT loss to the Thunder, even though they've been scoring less than a point per possession.
Previous: 14

12 Miami (9-8)
Pace: 93.5 (21), Off: 107.3 (6), Def: 99.9 (7)
Tracy McGrady's a better analyst than he is a player these days. Asked to diagnose the Heat's problems, McGrady said that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are "terrible" when they play together. That may be overstating it, but James and Wade are Miami's 19th best two-man combination in terms of +/-.
Previous: 6

13 Atlanta (11-7)
Pace: 92.8 (24), Off: 107.5 (5), Def: 104.0 (14)
They still don't have a win over a team with a winning record (at the time they played them), but the Hawks responded to a couple of bad games with three straight wins. They held the Wizards, Knicks and Raptors to 42 percent shooting, even though they were finishing a stretch of six games in nine days.
Previous: 13

14 Portland (8-8)
Pace: 91.7 (29), Off: 104.3 (15), Def: 104.8 (17)
The Blazers have been strong on the second night of back-to-backs the last few years, but after five days off, they couldn't score more than 78 points against the Hornets on Friday. Then they couldn't stop the Nets two nights later. Defense is more of an issue, but they're shooting just 40 percent in their last four games.
Previous: 11

15 New York (9-9)
Pace: 99.3 (2), Off: 107.3 (7), Def: 105.8 (20)
How have we gone five weeks without mentioning Landry Fields in this space? The versatile guard has clearly been the third best rookie in the league, and his team has more wins than John Wall and Blake Griffin's teams combined. The Knicks' soft schedule continues for the next couple of weeks.
Previous: 17

16 Phoenix (8-9)
Pace: 97.5 (7), Off: 110.1 (2), Def: 111.5 (30)
The Suns have been outrebounded in 16 of their 17 games and set a new standard for defensive futility in Sunday's loss in Denver. They get to marinate on that for a few days, because they don't play again until Thursday's late TNT game at Golden State. Expect some points to be scored in that one.
Previous: 16

17 Memphis (7-10)
Pace: 96.7 (9), Off: 101.7 (23), Def: 103.8 (12)
Though Xavier Henry hasn't exactly flourished in his new starting role, the Grizz won three straight (shooting 51 percent from the field) with O.J. Mayo coming off the bench for the first time in his career. But they've lost three straight on the road, where they will spend most of December and January.
Previous: 18

18 Golden State (8-9)
Pace: 98.1 (5), Off: 103.7 (17), Def: 107.7 (27)
David Lee returned and the Warriors won. But their 7-2 mark and 103.1 points allowed per 100 possessions with Lee in uniform will be tested in the next 15 days, when they face the Spurs (twice), Suns, Thunder, Mavs, Heat and Jazz. They beat Utah earlier this season, but were 3-17 against those teams last year.
Previous: 19

19 Charlotte (6-11)
Pace: 93.2 (22), Off: 103.8 (16), Def: 104.4 (15)
Now it's clear that the Bobcats have really regressed defensively. They allowed the worst offensive team in the league (with half of their rotation missing) to score 104 points in a slow-paced game. It was the sixth time the Cats have allowed 100-plus in regulation. Last year, that didn't happen until Dec. 1.
Previous: 15

20 Cleveland (7-9)
Pace: 95.1 (16), Off: 99.5 (28), Def: 105.2 (18)
With LeBron set to visit Cleveland on Thursday, Big Shot Mo Williams had himself quite a week. He scored the Cavs' final eight points, including the buzzer-beating game-winner in Wednesday's win over the Bucks. Then he hit both the go-ahead three and the dagger in Saturday's win over the Grizzlies.
Previous: 22

21 Houston (5-11)
Pace: 98.9 (3), Off: 104.6 (13), Def: 107.5 (25)
They're still remarkably inconsistent on both ends of the floor, and they still await the returns of Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, but at least the Rockets got a quality win with Sunday's nail-biter over the Thunder. Their reward is the second half of the back-to-back in Dallas and a visit from the Lakers on Wednesday.
Previous: 21

22 Milwaukee (6-10)
Pace: 93.0 (23), Off: 97.2 (30), Def: 98.6 (2)
Sometimes, logic is thrown out the window. Missing four guys from their rotation, the Bucks had one of their best offensive games of the season against Charlotte and snapped a five-game losing streak. With a rough schedule ahead, they'll need to defy more logic in order to stay anywhere close to .500.
Previous: 20

23 New Jersey (6-11)
Pace: 90.5 (30), Off: 102.0 (22), Def: 105.8 (19)
The Nets have played a tough schedule and got quality wins over the Hawks and Blazers last week, but they laid an egg when they got a shot at the 3-13 Sixers. Just one of their next seven games (Wednesday at Charlotte) is against a team below .500. They're 1-1 with Kim Kardashian in attendance.
Previous: 25

24 Toronto (6-11)
Pace: 96.0 (12), Off: 102.8 (19), Def: 106.9 (23)
Reggie Evans was averaging 12.1 rebounds per game and giving the Raps some much-needed toughness on their frontline, but he had, by far, the team's worst plus-minus mark before breaking his foot in Boston on Friday. The Raptors were worse both offensively and defensively with Evans on the floor.
Previous: 23

25 Detroit (6-11)
Pace: 92.0 (28), Off: 102.2 (21), Def: 107.6 (26)
You may scoff at Charlie Villanueva saying that he's working harder on defense this season, but the numbers back him up. He's a plus-8 on a team that has been outscored by 76 points. The problem is that Villanueva is shooting a career-low 43 percent. He still gets paid to make shots.
Previous: 26

26 Washington (5-10)
Pace: 95.6 (14), Off: 100.4 (26), Def: 107.3 (24)
It's a small sample size, but the Wizards have been a much better offensive team in five games without John Wall (107 points per 100 possessions) than they've been in 10 games with him (97.4). And that includes two games against two of the three best defensive teams in the league: Boston and Orlando.
Previous: 28

27 Philadelphia (4-13)
Pace: 95.6 (13), Off: 101.4 (24), Def: 103.9 (13)
The Sixers' season is already showing reruns. Last week featured another overtime loss in Washington and another somewhat-respectable performance against the Heat. They're now 0-9 in games decided by single digits, allowing opponents to shoot a league-high 55 percent in "clutch" situations.
Previous: 27

28 Minnesota (4-13)
Pace: 101.4 (1), Off: 98.7 (29), Def: 108.3 (28)
The Wolves outrebounded an opponent by 23 for the second time this season on Saturday. But when you shoot 40 percent and turn the ball over 22 times, and when the Warriors hit 12 of their 18 threes, the rebounds don't matter so much. The Wolves play nine of their next 12 on the road, where they're 1-8 thus far.
Previous: 29

29 L.A. Clippers (3-15)
Pace: 94.3 (18), Off: 100.8 (25), Def: 110.8 (29)
With Blake Griffin averaging 29.6 points and Eric Gordon averaging 26.6, the Clippers' offense has been strong (109 points per 100 possessions) over the last five games. If only they could sustain the decent defense they played in wins over the Hornets and Kings last week.
Previous: 30

30 Sacramento (4-11)
Pace: 94.3 (17), Off: 99.7 (27), Def: 106.6 (22)
There is much wrong with the Kings, who are the only team with fewer than three wins in the month of November. But you'd have to start with Tyreke Evans, who is shooting 35 percent in his last nine games. His 2-for-13 performance in Thursday's loss to the Clippers was the worst shooting night of his short career.
Previous: 24
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