NBA Power Rankings: Stacking Up All 30 Teams Before the Home Stretch

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterMarch 7, 2014

NBA Power Rankings: Stacking Up All 30 Teams Before the Home Stretch

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    It's that time of the year, folks. March Madness is here!

    No, not the NCAA tournament. That's still a couple weeks away.

    I'm referring instead to the silly season that is the stretch run of the NBA campaign. The top half of the league is dashing almost as madly for the playoffs as the bottom half is in its beeline to the draft lottery.

    Hence, there's been a fairly drastic divergence since the All-Star break (and, in some cases, prior to that) between the Association's haves and have-nots. The tantalizing pool of talent due for entry into the draft has only exacerbated the annual dilemma.

    My dilemma, that is. With teams trending so strongly in either direction, it can be tough for yours truly to find space in the highest and lowest echelons for those that truly deserve such "recognition." I did what I could to give all 30 squads a fair shake last week. Read on to see if I did any better this time around.

30. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Bleacher Report

    Now that the Philadelphia 76ers have lost their last 15 games in a row by an average of 19.8 points apiece, it seems fair to ask (among other things) whether this team will win any of the 21 contests remaining on its schedule for the 2013-14 season.

    In some respects, GM Sam Hinkie probably wouldn't mind if Philly flunked its way to an NBA-record 36 straight Ls. After all, he was the one in charge of the roster teardown, both over the summer and at the Feb. 20 trade deadline, that, as Grantland's Bill Simmons noted, more closely resembles the business model of a private equity firm than the standard operation of an NBA franchise.

    That application of Wall Street tactics could backfire on the Sixers in a big way. Tanking may be the smart way for less fortunate organizations to turn their luck around, particularly by accumulating talent through the draft.

    But stink jobs of this magnitude can go a long way toward poisoning the proverbial well for a building block like Michael Carter-Williams, who's shot a shade under 38 percent from the floor while accounting for nearly as many turnovers (4.6) as assists (5.0) per game during Philly's current slide.

29. Los Angeles Lakers

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    I don't envy Mitch Kupchak—not right now, anyway.

    His Los Angeles Lakers and their fans will have great expectations for next season, even though they could finish dead last in the Western Conference at the end of this one.

    Kobe Bryant, for one, isn't willing to wait around for a long, painful rebuild. He's been through enough pain of his own during a campaign that's likely to conclude with him having participated in just six games, sandwiched between a torn Achilles tendon and a fracture of the tibial plateau in his left knee.

    “Appreciate it now," Bryant told Lakers "haters" during a recent appearance on Power 106 in L.A. (h/t Forbes' Mark Heisler). "Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick.”

    And what's going to make that revenge so sweet and so quick exactly? Wesley Johnson's desire to return? Steve Nash's umpteenth attempt at a purple-and-gold comeback? The Lakers' plan, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding, to spend carefully this summer and save their cap space for 2015?

    At this point, a quick Lakers turnaround might depend as much on the bounce of ping-pong balls—L.A.'s current misery should earn many—as it will on Bryant's ability to recapture any of his old magic at the age of 35 (will be 36 when next season tips off). A franchise-worst 48-point loss—to the rival Los Angeles Clippers, no less—doesn't portend a timely bounce-back.

    If things don't congeal into a playoff participant in 2015, it'll be Kupchak, along with Jim Buss, who catches much of the flak.

28. New York Knicks

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    Is anyone really all that surprised by Chris Broussard's report for ESPN suggesting that Joakim Noah spent some time during All-Star Weekend pitching the Chicago Bulls to Carmelo Anthony?

    I mean, you don't have to be an insider with well-placed sources to understand that Anthony's situation with the New York Knicks is souring. The Knicks had lost five of six heading into the All-Star break and were in the midst of a seven-game skid—their second-longest of the season—prior to taking down the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

    Between Mike Woodson's worrisome coaching, Raymond Felton's gun play, J.R. Smith's abysmal play, a rash of injuries up and down the roster and even more off-court distractions than usual, New York's 2013-14 campaign has been nothing short of disastrous. Right now, the Knicks, at 22-40, sit five-and-a-half games shy of extending 'Melo's personal, decade-long playoff streak.

    And it's not as though things are bound to get better in the Big Apple. The Knicks will be capped out this summer whether Anthony returns or not, and they won't have either of their own picks in the 2014 draft with which to infuse the roster with young talent.

    Frankly, I'd be more surprised if Noah hadn't talked to 'Melo about coming to the Windy City via free agency, given how ripe for the picking Anthony is right now. 

    Especially if Knicks fans pull off the protest against owner James Dolan that, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman, is currently in the works.

27. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Bleacher Report

    The past, present and future collided in a plume of relative positivity for the Milwaukee Bucks this week. 

    First, Ersan Ilyasova exploded for 31 points on a scorching-hot 13-of-14 shooting in front of a crowd that included franchise legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

    Then came word that Abdul-Jabbar, who won the first three of his six MVPs in Milwaukee and led the Bucks to their only championship in 1971, had expressed interest in returning to the franchise in some official capacity.

    "If I get a call, I will definitely offer my services," the Captain told The Associated Press (via USA Today). "There's nothing on the table right now. A couple of people have asked me and if I had the chance to be part of this franchise again, I would take it."

    Now, the Internet is once again flooded with stories of rookie sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Amos Barshad's brilliant profile for Grantland to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix tweeting about the Greek Freak nearly running to the arena after falling short on cab fare (h/t SLAM).

    These bits and pieces won't save the Bucks from the misery of today, though they may point to a brighter tomorrow in Brew City.

26. Orlando Magic

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    Progress is a tricky thing to track when you're a rebuilding bottom-feeder like the Orlando Magic. In some ways, their latest rolling out of something approximating a red carpet for former central Floridian All-Star Dwight Howard served as a worthwhile barometer.

    Last year, Howard tied his own single-game free-throw record as the Magic hacked him into oblivion on the way to a 39-16 night and a 106-97 win for the Los Angeles Lakers. This time around, Howard's Houston Rockets came away victorious by a slightly more substantial margin (12 points).

    But there was no regrettable stretch of intentional fouling this time around. Howard finished with as many turnovers as freebies (six) as part of a 19-13 evening. More importantly, the Magic were up by as many as 13 points on Wednesday, thereby forcing Dwight's compatriots to scrap their way back into the game and not the other way around.

25. New Orleans Pelicans

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    Among the myriad storylines that have come to define the 2013-14 season, the plight of former starters adjusting to roles on the bench probably ranks toward the bottom of the list as far as general interest is concerned.

    But that doesn't make the matter any less important.

    Among playoff contenders, there are Harrison Barnes' struggles as the Golden State Warriors' sixth man; Jamal Crawford, Jeremy Lin and Reggie Jackson switching roles as needed for the Los Angeles Clippers, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively; and the Indiana Pacers' attempt to turn Evan Turner into a pivotal part of their reserves over the stretch run.

    But none of those guys costs more and might mean more to his team's future than Tyreke Evans. The former Rookie of the Year has been spotty at best off the bench in his first year as the New Orleans Pelicans' $44 million man. In his last four games, though, Evans has been brilliant, with an average line of 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while shooting just over 49 percent from the field.

    Evans has started each of those contests for the depleted Pels. Not surprisingly, Evans corroborated his superior comfort in a starting role. "I just know how to attack or make a play better when I’m starting,’’ Evans told John Reid of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I’ve been starting my entire career and I’m comfortable at that position."

    Comfortable enough to make New Orleans' hefty investment seem a little less foolish, even if it throws a wrench in the original plans.

24. Atlanta Hawks

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    If you have a beverage of any kind nearby and you're not afraid of a minor mess, I encourage you to pour a little out for Kyle Korver. His NBA-record streak of 127 consecutive games with at least one three-point make came to an unceremonious end on Wednesday, when Korver missed all five of his attempts in the Atlanta Hawks' 102-78 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

    No longer will diehard fans and casual observers alike have reason to tune into your run-of-the-mill Hawks game to see history in the making. All Atlanta has in its holster now is its desperate attempt to hang onto a spot in an all-too-forgiving Eastern Conference playoff picture.

    And even that might go by the wayside soon enough. That blowout loss in Portland was the Hawks' fourth in a row on the heels of a separate slide that lasted eight games. If not for the collective ineptitude of the Detroit Pistons, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Knicks, the depleted Hawks would've seen their push for a seventh straight postseason appearance defenestrated long ago.

    Instead, they've got a three-game cushion on which to rest in the interim. Go figure.

23. Boston Celtics

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    You know things are bad when the owner of a 22-39 team calls YOU out for tanking.

    According to Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe, that's what happened during a panel discussion at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Conference this past weekend.

    With NBA commissioner Adam Silver present, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive called out Wyc Grousbeck, his counterpart with the Boston Celtics, for taking a dive this season, to which Grousbeck retorted by pointing out Sacramento's long-running and ongoing ineptitude.

    Ranadive certainly wasn't wrong, even if his comments read like those of a rock-chucker in a crystal palace. The C's have lost eight of 10 since their three-game winning streak to start the month of February. That rough patch has dropped Boston's record on the season to 20-41—the fourth-worst in the NBA.

    Which, hypothetically speaking, should be "good" enough to land the C's the sort of blue-chip prospect in the 2014 draft that they'll need to get back to their championship roots in due course.

22. Utah Jazz

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    Speaking of tanking, the Utah Jazz must've gotten a memo from on high recently about turning their on-court efforts down a notch. How else would you explain Utah's four-game skid on the heels of a solid 5-3 stretch?

    Three of the Jazz's most recent defeats have come by at least 13 points, including a 20-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 26-point pounding in Milwaukee. Utah's competitive spirit reared its head during a three-point defeat in Indy and could make a guest appearance or two this weekend, as the Jazz go back-to-back in New York and Philly.

    Truth be told, GM Dennis Lindsey would probably prefer the Jazz ease up on the gas even more if they can, lest a summer spent stripping down the roster go for naught in the annual draft lottery.

21. Detroit Pistons

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    If I were a Detroit Pistons fan, I'd be a rarity right now—and my heart would've skipped a beat (in the worst way) after hearing rumors of franchise legend Isiah Thomas potentially replacing Joe Dumars in the front office.

    As of now, that wouldn't appear to be the case. "[Thomas] is not a candidate for any job with the Pistons," team spokesman Mark Barnhill told MLive's David Mayo. This, after Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News cited anonymous sources as saying that Thomas would be the front-runner to replace his former teammate if/when owner Tom Gores (finally) forces Dumars out of his long-held post.

    Gores need only conduct cursory research on Zeke's failed stint with the Knicks to understand that any decision to bring Thomas back into the fold in any serious capacity should bring with it a show-cause penalty of some sort.

    Then again, it's not as though Dumars has done much better in the decade since a Pistons team of his hand toppled the mighty Lakers in the NBA Finals. Another ill-fated shopping spree in free agency this past summer has done little more than net Detroit two more regrettable contracts (Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings) and put the Pistons on the outer perimeter of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

20. Denver Nuggets

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    On Wednesday, for the first time in seemingly forever, the Denver Nuggets resembled the squad that went 57-25 last season. Six Nuggets scored in double figures, including dueling 20-point efforts from Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler, and the team totaled 17 fast-break points in a 115-110 home win over the Dallas Mavericks.

    That victory snapped a six-game skid which had been preceded by a five-game slide. 

    "It's been a long time," head coach Brian Shaw remarked after the rare win, via The Associated Press. "It feels good, especially here, where we've let down our crowd so many times. That's a team that's in the playoffs. We're 3-0 against them, and it just goes to show when we have healthy bodies and we play the way we're capable, we can play with anybody."

    They should have more healthy bodies next season. If nothing else, they'll have a tough time fielding fewer than they have in 2013-14.

    Danilo Gallinari has been out all year with an ACL tear, JaVale McGee played just five games before a stress fracture did him in, Nate Robinson recently succumbed to a blown ACL of his own, and Lawson, the team's engine, has been in and out of the lineup with myriad maladies.

    With any luck, the Nuggets should bounce back from this season's disappointment as quickly as they collapsed from last year's franchise milestone.

19. Sacramento Kings

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    News of any kind has been hard to come by for the Sacramento Kings recently.

    The latest? A pair of 10-day signings: Orlando Johnson and Royce White. According to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones, Johnson, previously with the Indiana Pacers, is likely to stick for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.

    White, on the other hand, will begin his stint with the D-League's Reno Bighorns, where he'll be monitored by Kings executives, per Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears. The former first-round pick fell out with the Houston Rockets on account of disputes stemming from White's well-documented anxiety disorder.

    At his size (6'8", 260 lbs) and with his all-around skill set, White could be a credit to the Kings roster under the right circumstances. And if the Kings can crack White's proverbial code, perhaps they'll begin to shed their dubious reputation for toxic organizational culture once and for all.

18. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Back-to-back losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs were plenty predictable for these Cleveland Cavaliers, who still sit three-and-a-half games back of re-entering the playoff picture for the first time since LeBron James left town.

    Speaking of whom—and also predictable—James isn't sure he'll be in Cleveland for the retirement of Zydrunas Ilgauskas' jersey number, per Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. Tough to blame LeBron, since his Miami Heat have a grueling Sunday afternoon game (and a two-game skid to snap) against the Chicago Bulls on their schedule.

    Having James back in Rock City in a supporting role, rather than that of the antagonist, would've been weird. Then again, at least Cavs fans might not have to worry about the tease that seeing LeBron in something other than a Heat uniform would've been, given how clearly they've blown whatever slim chance they could've had to lure James back to Cleveland as a free agent.

17. Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Charlotte Bobcats' week from you-know-where went better than expected—which is to say, they didn't go 0-4 against the NBA's top four teams.

    Charlotte fell short against the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road and surrendered a career-high 61 points to LeBron James in Miami. But to their credit, the 'Cats bounced back by blasting the Indiana Pacers at The Cable Box, 109-87.

    As usual, Al Jefferson was key to that momentous victory. Jefferson accounted for 34 points, eight rebounds and three assists, just two nights after piling up 38 points and 19 rebounds in the shadow of LeBron's historic effort.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves have settled into a pattern of "three steps forward, one step back" of late—which is to say, they've had two separate three-game winning streaks snapped by double-digit losses since the All-Star break.

    The T-Wolves' latest streak-ender came courtesy of the lowly Knicks, who ended a seven-game slide of their own in Minny on Wednesday, 118-106.

    The improvement the T-Wolves have demonstrated since the All-Star Game has to come as encouragement to the team's forlorn fans. But with five games still to make up in the standings to break the franchise's decade-long postseason drought, Minny can ill afford to fork over results to lesser opponents.

    Or to anyone, for that matter.

15. Dallas Mavericks

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    The T-Wolves' margin for error has increased significantly in the last week, though, in conjunction with the Dallas Mavericks' struggles. Dallas dropped decisions to the Bulls, the Spurs and the Nuggets, all by single-digit margins, to fall into eighth place out West, just a game up on the hard-charging Memphis Grizzlies.

    Things could get worse before they get better for the Mavs. They'll host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and the Indiana Pacers on Sunday before taking off for a three-game swing through Oakland, Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City.

    Luckily for the Mavs, Memphis will have to mess with Chicago, Charlotte and Portland in the week to come, albeit with a relatively comfortable Eastern Conference road trip on tap after that.

14. Washington Wizards

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    Bleacher Report

    John Wall did plenty to earn just the third Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor of his career during the final stretch of February. The first-time All-Star averaged 25 points, 10.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game while hitting 59.2 percent of his shots, including 44.4 percent of his three-point tries.

    More importantly, Wall's Washington Wizards won all three outings to extend their season-best winning streak to six games. The Memphis Grizzlies subsequently snapped that spurt on Monday before the Wizards got back on the winning track at Utah's expense on Wednesday.

    In any case, Washington is now "comfortably" over the .500 mark, at 32-29, thanks in no small part to Wall's growth into an all-around threat at the point guard position.

13. Memphis Grizzlies

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    It's tough to tell whether Nick Calathes being named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for February says more about his contributions to the Memphis Grizzlies or the dire dearth of quality talent among first-year players in the NBA this season.

    Calathes, who spent four years overseas before arriving in the Association in 2013-14, averaged a solid 10.7 points, 4.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals while shooting 49.5 percent from the field in 12 games last month, seven of which came in relief of the injured Mike Conley

    As respectable as those numbers are, they're hardly what you'd expect from a Rookie of the Month. Then again, summoning the name of another newbie worthy of such distinction out West is no easy task these days.

    Unless, of course, you had Trey Burke and Ben McLemore on your mind.

12. Brooklyn Nets

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    The Brooklyn Nets' 103-94 win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday probably didn't seem all that remarkable at first glance. Sure, beating a quality team like Memphis is impressive, particularly when it's punctuated by an Andray Blatche Eurostep.

    But the significance of this one victory speaks more to Brooklyn's resilience and persistence than anything else. With that result, the Nets moved over the .500 mark for the first time all season. Remember, this team was 10-21 after a 21-point drubbing at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve.

    Since then, the Nets have gone 20-8, with the win over the Grizz extending a four-game streak that was immediately preceded by an embarrassing 44-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

11. Phoenix Suns

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    Jeff Hornacek's Phoenix Suns are nothing if not resilient. Two nights after getting handled at home by the Los Angeles Clippers, the Suns recovered by fending off the Oklahoma City Thunder, 128-122.

    That win could prove to be Gerald Green's swan song as a starter next to Goran Dragic. According to AZCentral.com's Paul Coro, Eric Bledsoe is due to return from knee surgery no later than next Wednesday and could be back in the lineup as soon as Sunday against the Golden State Warriors.

    If Thursday's win does indeed turn out to be Green's last as Bledsoe's stand-in, he'll have returned to the bench with a bang. Green torched OKC for a career-high 41 points, with eight threes, five rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block to boot.

    The Suns have made it clear on numerous occasions that they intend to match any offer for Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, this summer. But if Phoenix's thinking should change at all between now and July, Green should make a pretty darn good insurance policy.

10. Golden State Warriors

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    You could probably figure out that the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls sport the top two defenses in the NBA today based on reputation alone, but can you guess which team checks in third in defensive efficiency?

    That's right—the Golden State Warriors, who've held their opponents to just 99.2 points per 100 possessions this season. They closed out their six-game swing through the Eastern Conference by outclassing the Pacers on D and holding the Celtics, admittedly no offensive juggernaut, to 88 points.

    This seems strange to say given the Dubs' own reputation for scoring and shooting, but if the offense, currently 12th in points per 100 possessions, ever catches up to the defense, Golden State could emerge as something more than just a dark horse in the Western Conference.

9. Toronto Raptors

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    Bleacher Report

    The Toronto Raptors had about as light a week as any team possibly could, but it was a productive one nonetheless. Their lone game resulted in a six-point win over the Warriors to move back to a season-high seven games above .500.

    DeMar DeRozan's team-best 32 points were the highlight for Toronto, but don't discount the contributions of Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson. The two Kings ex-pats chipped in 12 points apiece, including eight from Patterson in the fourth quarter.

    And wouldn't you know it? Vasquez and Patterson will face their old team on Friday when Rudy Gay returns to Toronto with the Kings.

8. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Bleacher Report

    A hiccup at home against the hapless Lakers aside, the Portland Trail Blazers have pushed their way back into the upper echelon of the Western Conference—not with their elite offense, but rather by way of an uptick on the defensive end. They've won six of their last seven games, limiting their opponents to just 93.5 points per 100 possessions therein.

    For comparison's sake, the Indiana Pacers' league-leading defense has limited its opponents to 94.9 points per 100 possessions all season.

    To be sure, the Blazers haven't exactly done that work against the cream of the NBA's crop. Only one of those wins (vs. Minnesota) came against a team with a top-10 offense.

    Portland's improved defense will be put to the test this week, as the Blazers begin a five-game road trip with visits to Dallas and Houston.

7. Chicago Bulls

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    Watch out, Phoenix Suns. The Chicago Bulls are quickly becoming the story of the 2013-14 season. They've gone 19-9 since trading away Luol Deng to move into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with the Raptors.

    The reason for their rise despite losing two of their most important players over the course of the campaign? Along with Tom Thibodeau's direction, Joakim Noah. Since Deng's departure, the All-Star center has averaged 13.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and a whopping 6.1 assists, along with 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals.

    Better yet, Thibs isn't even driving Noah into the ground like he did last season. Noah has played right around 36 minutes a night over that span.

    Those contributions could be enough to put Noah on the All-NBA first team and perhaps the All-Defensive first team.

    And should be enough to move Noah to the outskirts of the MVP race.

6. Indiana Pacers

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    I'd be more concerned about the Indiana Pacers' blowout loss to the Bobcats—and Paul George's two-point stinker therein—if not for this enlightening bit by NBA.com's John Schuhmann from mid-February. As Schuhmann pointed out, the Pacers were (and still are) among the league's best teams in the first half at home and/or with significant rest.

    Conversely, Indy is terrible when any or all of those factors are flipped. As it happens, that loss to the 'Cats came on the road on the second night of a back-to-back, with the Pacers surrendering 28 points and scoring just eight for themselves in the first quarter.

    Still, there's a greater, more disconcerting context to consider here. The Pacers, punchless at home the night prior, had eked out wins over the Bucks (by five points), the Celtics (by five points) and the Jazz (by three points) before that.

    That's not exactly a murderers' row of NBA contenders. Then again, with the lull the Pacers have been in of late, they may not belong in that category either.

    For now anyway.

5. Miami Heat

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    Good news for the Pacers: They're not the only Eastern Conference elite to run into a rough patch. The Miami Heat followed up their eight-game winning streak, capped by LeBron James' career-high 61-point explosion against Charlotte, by dropping two straight on the road. The latter of those—a 111-87 loss to the Spurs—doubles as Miami's worst of the season.

    Still, there's no need to panic about the Heat right now. Both of those defeats came on the road in Texas. The first, a 106-103 loss in Houston, came the night after James jammed the ball through the hoop more than he ever has.

    For now, though, Miami's tragic Texas two-step necessitates a slip from the top spot in the power rankings.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Losing the way the Oklahoma City Thunder did in Phoenix on Thursday is tough, but it doesn't do too much to detract from the progress made by the team prior to that. They beat a Memphis team on the upswing before handling the Bobcats and the Sixers at home.

    Losing Thabo Sefolosha for the next month or so to a calf strain is also tough, though adding Caron Butler should fill the void some, especially if he's able to chip in anything close to the 14 points he scored against the Suns.

3. Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets did well to hold off the Heat at home and take down Detroit and Orlando to start the month of March. But the Rockets are headed into a frickin' minefield on their schedule and might not emerge on the other side with their slice of home-court advantage intact.

    They'll welcome the Pacers and Blazers to Space City before hitting the road to Oklahoma City, Chicago and Miami.

    Keep in mind, the Rockets are currently in a virtual tie with Portland for third place in the Western Conference. But since the Los Angeles Clippers would own no worse than the No. 4 seed for winning the Pacific Division, either Houston or Portland will be relegated to fifth place.

    Fortunately for the Rockets, the Blazers' upcoming schedule won't be much of a cakewalk either, as we discussed earlier.

2. San Antonio Spurs

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    Like one of those 1,001 chocolate chip cakes, this last week was good on top of better with some great in the middle for the San Antonio Spurs.

    First, they welcomed Tony Parker back into the fold for a 112-106 win over the Mavs. Then, they put on a clinic in Cleveland, racking up an astounding 39 assists on 43 field goals—for an assist percentage of approximately eleventy billion—to crush the Cavs.

    On Thursday, the Spurs did themselves one better by handing the Heat their worst loss of the season. Keep in mind, too, that San Antonio held Miami's league-best offense to just 87 points on 43 percent shooting.

    I can only imagine Tim Duncan blasting Third Eye Blind in the locker room right about now.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

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    If their 142-94 annihilation of the rival Lakers was a feast, the Los Angeles Clippers must be mired in a purple-and-gold food coma at this very moment.

    That 48-point margin wasn't just the largest in the history of this series; it was also the worst regular-season loss the Lakers had ever suffered, just edging out a 46-point defeat to the Blazers back in 1995.

    By accomplishing this under the Hollywood lights and the golden banners in the Staples Center rafters, the Clips pretty much maxed out their allowance of crosstown schadenfreude for the year. And then some, if the previous result between these two (a 36-point win for the Clippers) still counts in this discussion.

     

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