NBA Power Rankings Week 18: Heat Surge To The Top, Lakers Climbing

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10. Houston Rockets (31-27, Last Week: 15): The Rockets pulled off a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, one in which James Harden scored a career-high 46 points against his former team. However, the Rockets went on to lose to the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

9. Los Angeles Lakers (28-29, Last Week: 13): I caught some flack last week for placing the Lakers ahead of the Jazz and Rockets, and maybe rightfully so. I am a bit biased, but I do think that the three teams each hold a similar amount of clout, so I’ll go ahead and give the Lakers a slight edge over the two teams they’re trying to catch. Additionally, the team has been playing well together despite Pau Gasol’s absence, and have gone 11-4 since an apparent turning of the corner. Oh yeah, that guy Kobe Bryant is playing at an extremely high level as well. Dr. Buss’ death has seemingly motivated the team to achieve a level of greatness that the late owner so richly built. Being ninth on the list is probably a bit high for a team not even guaranteed a playoff spot, but think “self-fulfilling prophecy,” people!

8. Atlanta Hawks (31-23, Last Week: 11): The Hawks didn’t end up trading Josh Smith after all.

7. Denver Nuggets (35-22, Last Week: 7): The Nuggets 2-1 since the All-Star break, but are an extremely solid home team. They’ll face the Los Angeles Lakers tonight.

6. Indiana Pacers (35-21, Last Week: 8): The Pacers have won four in a row and are playing well, and even  Danny Granger made his season debut on Saturday against the Pistons. Granger had just two points in 18 minutes, however.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (37-18, Last Week: 5): The Grizzlies are hot right now, having won seven games in a row; three of which have come on the road. More impressively is that they’ve done so after the loss of Rudy Gay.

4. Los Angeles Clippers (40-18, Last Week: 3): The Clips got trounced by the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, which is concerning for a team trying to contend for a championship.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-15, Last Week: 4): The Thunder did lose three straight before defeating the Timberwolves and Bulls, respectively. Kevin Durant has been phenomenal, though.

2. San Antonio Spurs (45-13, Last Week: 1): One loss can knock you out of first place when you’re at the top, as it has done for the Spurs who lost to the Warriors on Friday. However, I’m sure Greg Popovich isn’t concerned.

1. Miami Heat (40-14, Last Week: 2): LeBron James has been playing out of his mind, Dwyane Wade has come alive, and the Heat have won 11 games straight. LeBron and the Heat have shown that they’re not content with just one title, and are taking their pursuit of a “repeat” very seriously. Lil Wayne is not happy right now.

 

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