By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Feb 14 2011 11:39AM
The Bulls beat the Hornets, who beat the Magic, who beat the Lakers, who beat the Celtics, who beat the Heat. That was all in the last seven days.
And the parity extended well beyond last week's top 10. Only one team (Portland) went undefeated and only one (Atlanta) went without a win over the last week. The other 28 teams all had at least one win and one loss.
And while you can probably think of reasons why your team should be a spot or two higher than it is below, you could also think of reasons why it shouldn't. That's what happens when the results are so mixed.
With the Spurs and Celtics losing earlier in the week, the Heat were looking like the new No. 1. But then they came up short in Boston once again. So last week's top three teams remain in place, with the Lakers and Bulls swapping spots at four and five. Further down, the Grizzlies and Pacers earn big moves forward.
• Last week: Another big win keeps Spurs on top
• This time last year: With All-Star break over, it's time for stretch run - 108,713 people packed Cowboys Stadium for the All-Star Game, the Cavs were talking with the Suns about a trade for Amar'e Stoudemire, Shaq was talking trash about Dwight Howard and the Magic, the Thunder were the league's best defensive team between Christmas and the All-Star break, and the Celtics were 9-13 in that stretch.
Hero Team of the Week: L.A. Lakers (3-1) - Not only did the Lakers win in Boston, but they also beat the Grizzlies, who had won nine of 10 at home, and the Knicks, who are tough to keep up with on the second night of a back-to-back.
Zero Team of the Week: L.A. Clippers (1-3) - Somebody had to lose to the Cavs, but they didn't have to lose to the Raptors, too.
Plus-minus Stud: Jrue Holiday (PHI) was a plus-53 in four games last week.
Plus-minus Dud(s): Corey Brewer (MIN) and Sonny Weems (TOR) were each a minus-45 in four games last week.
High jumps of the week: Indiana (+5), Memphis (+3), Three teams (+2)
Free falls of the week: L.A. Clippers (-3), Utah (-3), Four teams (-2)
East vs. West: The West is 184-133 (.580) against the East in inter-conference games this season, and was 12-10 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 94.6 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.
San Antonio (45-9)|
Pace: 94.8 (15), Off: 109.1 (2), Def: 100.6 (7)
Gregg Popovich says his team has to get better defensively to truly be the best team in the league. They did that in Philly on Friday, but scored just 71 points in just their second loss to a team with a losing record. DeJuan Blair averaged 19.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in their other three games last week.
Pace: 92.9 (22), Off: 105.1 (13), Def: 97.6 (2)
At this point, the Celtics are hurting more on the wings than they are on the interior, but they've been outrebounded by 30 over the last four games. And their offense has been downright ugly over the last nine, scoring just 97.1 points per 100 possessions and turning the ball over 16 times per contest.
Pace: 93.3 (21), Off: 108.8 (4), Def: 99.5 (3)
After three months of improvement, the Heat still couldn't beat the short-handed Celtics. But they still have a great shot of getting the top seed in the East and avoiding Boston and Chicago in the first two rounds. They have more momentum and four more remaining home games than the Celtics.
L.A. Lakers (38-17)|
Pace: 94.1 (16), Off: 108.9 (3), Def: 101.8 (8)
The Lakers came up empty in Orlando on Sunday, but Thursday's game in Boston was clearly the most critical of their seven-game trip. And they won it by controlling the boards (47-36, 16 second chance points) like they did in The Finals eight months ago. Friday's win in New York was just Kobe being Kobe.
Pace: 93.9 (18), Off: 103.5 (17), Def: 97.1 (1)
Monday's loss in Portland was the Bulls' worst defensive game of the season, but the Blazers recovered to win in Utah and New Orleans with Derrick Rose outplaying both Deron Williams and Chris Paul. They're just a game in the loss column behind the Heat for second in the East and just two behind Boston for first.
Pace: 92.4 (24), Off: 107.0 (8), Def: 102.8 (12)
Dirk Nowitzki is nursing a sprained right wrist, but the Mavs have the depth to make up for his lack of production. They averaged 57.3 points (34.3 more than their opponents) off the bench in their four games last week, and Peja Stojakovic scored 22 in Saturday's win in Houston, just his fourth game with the team.
Pace: 94.0 (17), Off: 106.0 (10), Def: 99.7 (4)
The Magic finally got their first quality win of 2011, shutting down the Lakers on Sunday. They're still struggling from the perimeter, shooting just 30 percent from 3-point range over the last 10 games, but Dwight Howard is beasting inside, averaging 24.8 points and 16.1 rebounds over the last 14.
Oklahoma City (34-19)|
Pace: 95.4 (12), Off: 107.8 (5), Def: 105.1 (17)
The Thunder offense that was so potent the week before ran into some problems last week, turning the ball over 43 times in their two losses. Russell Westbrook had 14 of those turnovers and missed three costly free throws down the stretch of Tuesday's overtime loss to the Grizzlies.
Pace: 94.9 (14), Off: 102.9 (20), Def: 102.4 (10)
The Spurs and Lakers are the only West teams with better records than the Grizzlies (18-9) since Christmas. And Memphis has been the fifth-best defensive team in the league (100.6) in that span. They won a game without Rudy Gay and another without Zach Randolph last week.
Pace: 92.3 (25), Off: 104.4 (15), Def: 103.4 (13)
What's worse: Losing by 34 or blowing a 22-point lead and getting beat at the buzzer? The Hawks suffered both indignities last week and, to make it worse, those were the only two games they played. Atlanta is 7-6 in its last 13 games, but has been outscored by 50 points in that span.
New Orleans (33-23)|
Pace: 91.2 (29), Off: 103.3 (18), Def: 100.3 (5)
The Hornets need Emeka Okafor back. They're 2-5 and allowing their opponents to shoot 48 percent without him and have lost seven of their last nine. After grabbing 32 rebounds in the previous two games, David West had just two on Saturday, as the Hornets were outrebounded 47-26 by the Bulls.
Pace: 91.4 (28), Off: 104.4 (14), Def: 104.3 (15)
Brandon Roy was going to return last week and then he wasn't. Maybe if he did, LaMarcus Aldridge wouldn't have averaged 38.3 points on 63 percent shooting in the Blazers' three wins. Aldridge has scored 30-plus in nine games this season, two more than he did in his first four years in the league.
Pace: 98.2 (3), Off: 110.0 (1), Def: 107.2 (24)
The Nuggets had two do-or-die situations in the final seconds this week, and Carmelo Anthony didn't take either shot. But Melo still takes his hat off to himself for averaging 34.8 points on 61 percent shooting over the last five games. His 50 points in Tuesday's loss to the Rockets tied a career high.
Pace: 96.8 (7), Off: 107.8 (6), Def: 107.4 (25)
After a three-game winning streak in which they held the Warriors and Jazz to less than 88 points a game, the Suns allowed the Kings to score 113 on Sunday. The last couple of weeks have been encouraging, but this defensive revolution in Phoenix might take a while to really take hold.
Pace: 93.7 (19), Off: 103.7 (16), Def: 102.3 (9)
They came up short against the Magic on Wednesday, but the Sixers held their four opponents to just 39 percent shooting and 88.6 points per 100 possessions last week. Playing some point forward, Andre Iguodala has 78 assists and just 18 turnovers over the last 10 games.
Pace: 93.5 (20), Off: 105.3 (12), Def: 105.9 (18)
The crazy thing about Utah's struggles is that they're lucky to be seven games over .500, because they've been outscored by 10 points this season. The coaching-change boost lasted just 24 minutes on Friday, when the Jazz scored 56 points in the first half and less than half that in the second half.
New York (27-26)|
Pace: 98.8 (2), Off: 107.6 (7), Def: 106.3 (20)
The Knicks' defense had been particularly atrocious (110.0 points allowed per 100 possessions) as they lost 11 out of 15. But without Amar'e Stoudemire on Saturday, they held the Nets to less than a point per possession and hit 16 threes. Danilo Gallinari shot just 9-for-33 in three games last week.
Pace: 97.0 (5), Off: 101.9 (24), Def: 102.4 (11)
Frank Vogel is 7-1 as a head coach with the only blemish being a five-point loss in Miami, which the Pacers will have a chance to avenge on Tuesday. Dahntay Jones has cracked double-figures three times in eight games under Vogel after playing double-figure minutes only twice under Jim O'Brien this season.
Golden State (24-29)|
Pace: 97.1 (4), Off: 105.3 (11), Def: 108.4 (28)
The Warriors seem to go as Monta Ells goes. He's averaged 34.3 points on 52 percent shooting in their last three wins and 16.7 points on 28 percent shooting in their last three losses. For the season, Golden State is 16-11 when Ellis shoots better than 45 percent and 1-12 when he shoots worst than 40 percent.
Pace: 97.0 (6), Off: 106.6 (9), Def: 107.2 (23)
Before last week, Chuck Hayes had never in his career scored in double-figures in more than two straight games. Now, he's done it in five straight. And for the season, Hayes has scored just three fewer points than Aaron Brooks, who shot 3-for-22 in two games after being suspended for one.
Pace: 92.5 (23), Off: 100.5 (25), Def: 103.4 (14)
It was an eventful week for Stephen Jackson to say the least. It began with a first-half ejection in Monday's win over the Celtics, and ended with the game-winner in Atlanta on Saturday. Shaun Livingston came up big in each of the two wins. He scored 22 points and was a plus-21 against the Hawks.
Pace: 91.0 (30), Off: 102.6 (22), Def: 107.6 (26)
Rodney Stuckey had 22 points off the bench in the Pistons' win in Cleveland on Wednesday, but could only score half that in two games as a starter over the weekend. He has shot 14-for-43 in four games since returning from injury and got into it with coach Jon Kuester in Sunday's loss to the Blazers.
L.A. Clippers (20-34)|
Pace: 95.0 (13), Off: 103.0 (19), Def: 107.1 (22)
It just had to be the Clippers that lost to the Cavs, didn't it? Perhaps Blake Griffin has hit the rookie wall. He's still racking up double-doubles and providing the highlights, but he's had some poor shooting games over the last couple of weeks, including that 11-for-26 performance in Cleveland.
Pace: 92.2 (26), Off: 98.2 (30), Def: 100.5 (6)
The Bucks have lost seven of their last eight and are back to being the worst offensive team in the league. Brandon Jennings is shooting 33 percent since returning from injury, has only been to the line 10 times in nine games, and was a minus-21 in Saturday's six-point loss in Indiana.
New Jersey (17-38)|
Pace: 91.8 (27), Off: 99.8 (28), Def: 106.0 (19)
The Nets beat the Hornets at home and then ended their 12-game road losing streak in Charlotte (with Brook Lopez recording his first regulation double-double of the season). But they're still without a three-game winning streak over the last two years because they couldn't beat the Amar'e-less Knicks on Saturday.
Pace: 95.8 (10), Off: 100.1 (27), Def: 106.6 (21)
The Wizards owe the Clippers a favor. Thanks to Friday's win, the Cavs had no urgency for Sunday's matchup of futility, allowing the Wiz to get that elusive road victory. Nick Young had 57 points on 24-for-40 shooting in the Wizards' two wins last week and four points on 2-for-10 in their loss to the Spurs.
Pace: 99.8 (1), Off: 102.0 (23), Def: 108.3 (27)
At this point, it's going to be big news when Kevin Love doesn't record a double-double. He's at 40 straight now, the most since Moses Malone had 44 straight in the 1982-83 season. The Wolves picked up two impressive wins in New Orleans and Houston last week, the latter without three starters.
Pace: 96.6 (8), Off: 100.1 (26), Def: 105.1 (16)
After losing five straight games at home by an average of three points, blowing a bunch of late-game opportunities and brawling in the locker room because of it, the Kings finally broke through in Phoenix on Sunday. Playing without DeMarcus Cousins, they exploded for 35 points in the fourth quarter.
Pace: 95.7 (11), Off: 102.8 (21), Def: 109.3 (29)
Andrea Bargnani (27.6 points) and DeMar DeRozan (57 percent shooting) have been putting up some big numbers over the last five games, but it took some defense for the Raptors to pick up a win over the Clippers on Sunday. Ed Davis grabbed 27 rebounds in two games over the weekend.
Pace: 96.1 (9), Off: 98.4 (29), Def: 110.1 (30)
Now that the streak is over, we can move on to figuring out how J.J. Hickson can play like he did against the Clippers more often. He doesn't have to reject Blake Griffin like this every night, but if he could just stay focused on that end of the floor, the Cavs would have a much brighter future.
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