NBA Power Rankings: Knicks Shoot Up, Heat & Spurs Streaking

The Knicks have found new life under Jeremy Lin, and have given us a reason to vault them into the top 10 of the SBNation.com NBA Power Rankings. But two other teams -- the Heat and Spurs -- are even hotter than New York.

As we hit the season's midway mark and approach both All-Star Weekend and the trade deadline, our NBA Power Rankings begin to normalize. Teams that had the benefit of soft early season schedules (76ers, Pacers) crash back toward reasonable expectations, while teams that had tough paths out of the gate (Mavericks) pick up steam.

There's also the matter of Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks, who finally deserve to be taken seriously after a rousing victory over the defending champions on Sunday.

All records include Sunday's action.

Rank Team Record Last Week SB Nation Blog
1. Miami Heat 25-7 W: MIL, IND, CLE, ORL Peninsula Is Mightier
The Heat are on quite the little string, sweeping a five-game road trip (all with double-digit wins) that included a back-to-back-to-back ... then busting up a solid Orlando club by 12 on Sunday. Thursday's game against the Knicks will be must-watch stuff.
2. San Antonio Spurs 22-9 W: DET, TOR, LAC Pounding The Rock
The only team hotter than the Heat or Knicks is San Antonio, currently on a 10-game win string and with a shot at sweeping the annual Rodeo Trip for the first time ever. The roadie has three challenges left: Utah, Portland and Denver. Stay tuned.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder 24-7 W: UTA, GSW, DEN; L: HOU Welcome to Loud City
Oklahoma City keeps rolling along and has the league's No. 2 offense. The Thunder are also playing pretty up-tempo this season, and when Serge Ibaka gets into an opposing team's head -- as he did against Denver on Sunday -- this team is superb.
4. Chicago Bulls 25-8 W: SAC, BOS; L: NJ Blog-a-Bull
It takes some real pluck to lose to the Nets. But hey, how about Luol Deng: Point Guard? The South Sudanese forward had back-to-back double-digit assist games this week.
5. L.A. Clippers 19-10 W: WAS, POR; L: DAL, SA Clips Nation
Chris Paul doesn't make many mistakes, and a rare one cost the Clippers a chance to end the Spurs' streak on Saturday. That the Clippers were so close to ending it says something about how seriously the club should be taken.
6. Dallas Mavericks 20-12 W: LAC, DEN, PHI; L: NY Mavs Moneyball
A strong week from the Mavericks until the team fell victim to Linsanity in New York. There's just still something missing from the champs.
7. New York Knicks 16-16 W: TOR, SAC, DAL; L: NO Posting And Toasting
The Knicks saw their streak end, but began an important, telling stretch on the right foot in beating Dallas on national TV on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony could return Monday against the Nets, then the Knicks go back-to-back against the Hawks and Heat before the All-Star break. New York would love to catch the Hawks in the standings, and a national TV win over the Heat before the break would be one helluva statement.
8. Orlando Magic 20-12 W: MIN, PHI, MIL; L: MIA Orlando Pinstriped Post
The Magic are plugging along until the trade deadline, when a decision on Dwight Howard will be needed. Boosters in L.A. and Brooklyn who want Orlando to make a move will be reminding us often of what happened to Cleveland and Toronto when their stars walked as free agents.
9. Philadelphia 76ers 20-12 W: CHA; L: ORL, DAL, MIN Liberty Ballers
The Sixers' slide isn't terribly surprising or dispiriting: They aren't losing to patsies, and their early season schedule was very light. Things had to normalize at some point.
10. L.A. Lakers 18-13 W: ATL, PHX; L: PHX Silver Screen and Roll
Kobe Bryant can pin the team's struggles on the Pau Gasol trade rumors all he wants, but racking up 10 turnovers in a game is not conducive to road wins.
11. Houston Rockets 18-14 W: OKC, UTA; L: MEM, MIN The Dream Shake
Houston is now in playoff position, and has a chance to make a run at a top-4 seed if the Rockets can get hot. Kyle Lowry has shaken off the dust and the team seems to be clicking most nights. Kudos to Kevin McHale for a solid coaching job this season.
12. Indiana Pacers 19-12 W: NJ, CHA; L: MIA, CLE Indy Cornrows
George Hill should be back this week, and Indiana needs something after a bad string with six losses in 10 games. Like Philadelphia, this is the schedule coming home to roost. But in the Pacers' case, the margin of error is smaller because the roster is less talented.
13. Atlanta Hawks 19-12 W: PHX; L: LAL, POR Peachtree Hoops
Atlanta could have a very interesting trade deadline if the club is interested in making a push toward the top of the East. It's the rare club that has young assets and legitimate hopes of making a splash now.
14. Memphis Grizzlies 18-14 W: HOU, NJ, DEN, GS Straight Outta Vancouver
A four-game winning streak before Zach Randolph's return. This team looks like it will be in the postseason, and that's got to terrify the Spurs, Thunder, Mavericks and Clippers.
15. Portland Trail Blazers 17-15 W: GS, ATL; L: WAS: LAC Blazer's Edge
Nate McMillan seems to be feeling the heat, and given how Paul Allen has run the Blazers over the last couple of seasons no move would be a surprise. How much of this swoon is a reflection that the Blazers were playing over their heads early?
16. Denver Nuggets 17-15 W: PHX; L: DAL, MEM, OKC Denver Stiffs
The Nuggets ran into three buzzsaws this week, and have been getting crushed by injuries. Wilson Chandler could be back with the club soon, though. It's a waiting game to see whether a team will try to intercept the small forward and offer a contract Denver can't afford to match.
17. Boston Celtics 15-15 L: DET x 2, CHI CelticsBlog
Free Rondo.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves 16-16 W: CHA, HOU, PHI; L: ORL Canis Hoopus
Fact: 'Wicky Wuuuubio Kid' is not an anomaly, that's actually how all Wolves fans talk when watching Rubio play.
19. Utah Jazz 15-15 W: WAS; L: NO, OKC, HOU SLC Dunk
How good would the Jazz be if Devin Harris hadn't been abducted by aliens?
20. Golden State Warriors 11-17 W: PHX; L: POR, OKC, MEM Golden State Of Mind
The Warriors are definitely the best bad team in the league this season. Progress!
21. Detroit Pistons 11-22 W: BOS x 2, SAC; L: SA Detroit Bad Boys
Detroit, on the other hand, might actually be good. That's three straight wins and a 7-3 record in February. Add one more lottery pick, some seasoning and we have a club worth watching in Motown.
22. Phoenix Suns 13-19 W: LAL; L: LAL, DEN, ATL Bright Side of the Sun
Linsanity has seemingly taken all of the steam out of the Steve Nash Trade Locomotive, but enough teams are struggling at the point that the next couple of weeks should get that engine roaring again.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers 12-17 W: IND, SAC; L: MIA Fear the Sword
Who cares about wins and losses? LeBron is coming back! Right?
24. Milwaukee Bucks 13-18 W: NJ; L: MIA, NO, ORL BrewHoop
The story of John Hammond's tenure as GM: brilliant moves (losing John Salmons and Corey Maggette in a single trade) mixed with awful ones (pairing Stephen Jackson with Scott Skiles and Brandon Jennings, akin to pairing a stick of dynamite with a lump of C4 and a lit campfire).
25. Sacramento Kings 10-21 L: CHI, NY, DET, CLE Sactown Royalty
At least on this road trip the Kings are losing by narrow margins, and not by 20 every night. Progress!
26. Toronto Raptors 9-23 L: NY, SA, CHA Raptors HQ
I refuse to open the Raptors-Bobcats box score to find out how Charlotte won in an effort to avoid being infected with the terminal disease that surely lurks within.
27. New Jersey Nets 9-24 W: CHI; L: MEM, IND, MIL NetsDaily
Brook Lopez in his return: 28 minutes, two rebounds. Didn't miss a beat.
28. Washington Wizards 7-24 W: POR; L: UTA, LAC Bullets Forever
As a rookie, Nick 'Swaggy P' Young campaigned for inclusion in the dunk contest ... and was snubbed. This year, he campaigned for inclusion in the three-point contest ... and was snubbed. Next year he may become the first person to ever request to be invited to the skills challenge. (They'll take Steve Novak instead.)
29. New Orleans Hornets 7-23 W: UTA, MIL, NY At The Hive
Gosh, the Hornets have style. They began the season 2-0, went on a 2-23 tear and have now won three straight. Next up: a 15-game losing streak, of course.
30. Charlotte Bobcats 4-27 W: TOR; L: PHI, MIN, IND Rufus On Fire
The mysterious win over the Raptors plus the shortened season likely ensures that the Bobcats will not break any futility records this year. But man, this team is atrocious.

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