On Wednesday, the NBA.com crew is flying down to New Orleans, where we'll be giving you the most thorough coverage of All-Star Weekend you can find.
There will be dunks. There will be threes. There will be skills and shooting stars. There will be a Day of Service. There will be rookies and sophomores. There will be parties. A ton of photos will be taken and the NBAE video editors will have their hands full for days on end.
The bad news is that you will not get your weekly dose of Power Rankings next Monday. It will be rough, but we'll come back strong on the 25th.
For now, I need to make sure that the list is straight and without fault. Last week, I think I gave the Rockets the shaft, moving them up only one spot even though they had won 12 of 15. Fortunately, they went 3-0 this week and I was able to properly reward them with a big bump up. So, now it's a perfect list, from one to 30.
No? Well, then let me know what the problem is and I'll answer mail from New Orleans.
Hero Team of the Week: Utah (3-1) Zero Team of the Week: Washington (0-4)
High jumps of the week: Houston (+6), Utah (+4), L.A. Clippers (+3) Free falls of the week: Charlotte (-3), Cleveland (-3), Atlanta (-2), Golden State (-2), Minnesota (-2), Portland (-2), Sacramento (-2)
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions The league averages 91.6 possessions (per team) per game and 107.9 points per 100 possessions.
TEAM (LAST WK)
Off: 113.0 (3), Def: 103.8 (3) -- The Pistons have quietly won eight straight, sharp on both ends of the court. If they take care of business in Atlanta and against the Pacers, they should be going into the break as the best team in basketball, and the only one with three All-Stars.
Off: 111.3 (10), Def: 99.5 (1) -- With Sunday's win over the Spurs, the Celtics are now 16-0 against the West. They've got a five-game trip with stops in Denver, Golden State, Phoenix and Portland right after the break.
Off: 113.2 (2), Def: 107.0 (11) -- The Kings ended Utah's 10-game winning streak on Friday, but the Jazz kept their 12-game streak at home alive with Saturday's win over the Bulls. At 22-3 at EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz are tied with Dallas for the best home record in the league.
New Orleans (3)
Off: 111.9 (8), Def: 105.7 (6) -- Wednesday's double-OT win over the Suns was an absolute classic and the Hornets' 13th straight win in overtime (an NBA record). Fascinating stat though: The Hornets are last in the league in free throw attempts per possession (0.22). One would think that a team that doesn't get to the line often would struggle in close games.
Off: 114.2 (1), Def: 108.2 (15) -- Shaq is practicing and could play Wednesday or Thursday. And it's a small sample size, but in the four games the Suns have played without Shawn Marion this season, their defensive rating is 113.7. That's pretty bad.
TEAM (LAST WK)
Off: 113.0 (4), Def: 108.3 (17) -- Avery Johnson called a timeout 40 seconds into Sunday's loss in New Jersey to rip into his team for a defensive lapse. I can't imagine what went down in the locker room after the 19-point loss.
L.A. Lakers (6)
Off: 112.8 (5), Def: 106.6 (8) -- With games in Charlotte and Minnesota before the break, the Lakers have a real shot at putting together a 7-2 Grammy trip. But we still await word on the knee.
San Antonio (9)
Off: 109.7 (11), Def: 104.2 (4) -- The bad news: They lost the the KG-less Celtics and are 9-8 over their last 17. The good news: They expect Tony Parker back right after the break. The good outweighs the bad.
Off: 106.7 (17), Def: 103.5 (2) -- It's gotta be tough when you're 10 games over .500 having won six straight and 10 of your last 11, and you're still tied for the last playoff spot. Tonight's game against the Blazers is huge.
Golden State (8)
Off: 112.3 (6), Def: 109.9 (24) -- Monta Ellis is shooting 30-37 (.811) over the last three games. That's pretty good.
Off: 108.4 (14), Def: 105.3 (5) -- The Nuggets couldn't come through on their promise to go into All-Star Weekend with an eight-game winning streak, but Wednesday's loss to the Jazz was right there for the taking. They just couldn't get a stop or a bucket when they needed it.
Off: 112.0 (7), Def: 108.4 (18) -- A couple of weeks ago, I thought that the Cavs were going to cruise right past the Magic for the third spot in the East, but Orlando has been standing strong. Tonight's matchup at Amway Arena should be a good indication of where the teams stand.
Off: 106.3 (18), Def: 107.8 (13) -- The week began with a huge win over the Celtics and ended with a huge loss to the Nuggets. Looking for help right now, Cavs fans? You're probably not going to get it, but if you be patient, the Summer of 2009 could be very good to you.
Off: 111.6 (9), Def: 107.4 (12) -- It's great to see T.J. Ford back in uniform, but I feel like we're still waiting for the Raptors to hit their stride. There's an opportunity for them to go on a nice run after the break.
Off: 108.8 (13), Def: 108.3 (16) -- The Blazers have dropped six of their last nine (with Brandon Roy missing the last two) and finish their pre-break schedule in Houston and Dallas. From this vantage point, the playoffs are starting to look unlikely for Portland.
Off: 109.3 (12), Def: 109.3 (21) -- The Wiz have dropped seven straight (they're 1-6 without Caron Butler) and are on the wrong side of .500 for the first time since Dec. 7. I'll spare you a link to the Gilbert shaving story.
New Jersey (19)
Off: 103.7 (25), Def: 109.5 (22) -- Sunday's win over the Mavs was the Nets' second straight double-digit win after having only two in their first 49 games. Is it the start of a turnaround or just a quick flash of Kidd-and-Carter brilliance?
Off: 105.5 (20), Def: 106.7 (9) -- When the Sixers put up 20 fast break points or more, their offensive rating is 110.4 and they're 11-3. When they record less than 20 fast break points, their offensive rating is 103.6 and they're 10-27. Of course, it all starts with the D. Oh, and
Rodney's facial was better than
Off: 105.0 (23), Def: 106.8 (10) -- Just 6-16 away from Philips Arena so far this season, the Hawks are in danger of losing their playoff position with six straight on the road following Tuesday's game against the Pistons.
Off: 106.3 (19), Def: 108.5 (19) -- Without Jamaal Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers have won two straight. So, the question remains: Where do they go from here?
Off: 103.2 (26), Def: 106.2 (7) -- The Bulls are certainly within striking distance of the playoffs, but I think I'd like to see them win two in a row before I believe they can catch the Nets or Hawks. They haven't won two straight since right after the coaching change back in December.
Off: 105.2 (21), Def: 111.7 (28) -- Remember when a big deal was made about the Knicks signing Randolph Morris out of Kentucky near the end of last season? Randolph Morris has played in two games (5:56 total) this season.
Off: 101.5 (30), Def: 108.9 (20) -- Their winning streak ended Monday against the Bulls, but the Sonics came back to beat the Kings and almost beat the Suns. With a solid offensive rating of 107.4 over their last six, they may be ready to turn over the title of worst offensive team in the NBA to someone else.
Off: 102.7 (27), Def: 110.9 (27) -- After that nice little 5-2 run, the Timberwolves have dropped three straight with an ugly offensive rating of 95.0 over the three. But Peter Vecsey likes to watch them and they did give the Celtics a scare.
Off: 105.1 (22), Def: 112.4 (29) -- The Bucks haven't been 100 percent healthy since early November, but you've still got to wonder what's wrong with this team when they blow an 17-point lead at home to the Knicks for the second time this year.
Off: 107.2 (16), Def: 112.6 (30) -- Notice something about the bottom four? NBA teams in cities that start with the letter 'M' are a combined 51-148 (.256) this season.
Off: 102.0 (29), Def: 110.7 (26) -- The Heat were actually pretty fun to watch in yesterday's loss to the Lakers. As resident Bucks fan, Rob has said about his favorite team, "If you're gonna lose, you might as well try to run while you're doing it."