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NBA power rankings: Grizzlies closing in on Hawks and Warriors

The Hawks and Warriors are still No. 1 and No. 2, but the race for the top spot in the league has become a three-team contest thanks to the Grizzlies.

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

1. Atlanta Hawks (42-10, Last week: 1)

The Hawks had a brutal schedule last week, but their win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday was a statement victory and enough to keep them at the top of the ladder. Their streak came to an end last Monday and they later dropped one to Memphis on Sunday, but that doesn't take away from how well they've been playing.

2. Golden State Warriors (40-9, Last week: 2)

The Warriors had a chance to take over the power rankings again on Friday in Atlanta, but couldn't stop the Hawks. Even though they took a loss to the Hawks while Memphis beat Atlanta, Golden State's been excellent all season and is still one of the two top teams right now.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (38-13, Last week: 3)

The Grizzlies win over the Hawks on Sunday was a reminder that Memphis has enjoyed a phenomenal season even if it's been quieter than both Golden State and Atlanta. Don't sleep on the Grit N' Grind, now just three games behind the Warriors with plenty of basketball to be played. Now go on and get outta' here:

4. Dallas Mavericks (35-18, Last week: 9)

The Mavericks' season has been filled with ups and downs. They flipped a four-game losing streak around by winning five of their next six (the one loss was to the Warriors), and are close to finishing the first half of the season as a top-five team despite significant roster changes since last season.

5. Portland Trail Blazers (35-17, Last week: 4)

Damian Lillard landed the All-Star spot he yearned for and the Blazers capped off their week with an important win over the Houston Rockets. If they want to stick around at the top, they have to beat their top competition.

6. Houston Rockets (35-16, Last week: 7)

James Harden is doing everything he can to hold it together in Houston while Dwight Howard recovers from a knee procedure, but it won't be easy. The Rockets could have kept their spot in the top five if they pulled out a win over Portland on Sunday, but scoring just 18 points in the fourth quarter was too much to overcome.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (32-21, Last week: 8)

The Cavaliers' winning streak ended on a one-handed four-point play from George Hill, but LeBron James and Co. got right back to work against the Los Angeles Lakers. They have three big Eastern Conference games with the Heat, Wizards and Bulls just before and after All-Star weekend.

8. Toronto Raptors (35-17, Last week: 6)

Toronto dropped two game to lesser Eastern Conference foes, but responded with wins over the Spurs and Clippers. The Raptors have one game left before the break -- a dance with the Wizards -- and are still in fantastic shape in their conference. A chance to rest up and prepare for the second half of the season should do the Raptors well.

9. San Antonio Spurs (32-19, Last week: 10)

Gregg Popovich will likely become the ninth coach in NBA history to reach the 1,000-win mark before the NBA takes its annual February hiatus.

10. Phoenix Suns (29-24, Last week: 12)

The Suns have cruised along in playoff position while the Pelicans and Thunder are in the midst of an all-out war to try and chase them down. All of these buzzer-beating losses have to be exhausting, though. The Suns have lost seven games by three points or less, the latest coming at the hands of DeMarcus Cousins:

11. Los Angeles Clippers (33-19, Last week: 5)

The Clippers fell far this week and this may only be the start of their descent. Losing Blake Griffin for an extended period of time is a serious problem for the Clippers. This is the kind of impact he's making for them this season:


12. Chicago Bulls (32-20, Last week: 13)

Pau Gasol's game-winning putback dunk against the Orlando Magic saved the Bulls from an inexcusable loss. The Cavaliers' visit to Chicago on Thursday will be a good benchmark for both teams before the All-Star game.

13. Washington Wizards (32-20, Last week: 11)

The Wizards keep taking bumps and bruises, this week losing two games to the Charlotte Hornets. Sure, they demolished the Brooklyn Nets sans Bradley Beal on Saturday, but that was a win the Wizards needed to snap their longest losing streak of the season.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (26-25, Last week: 16)

Russell Westbrook went off for a combined 90 points in the Thunder's two games against the Pelicans, which the teams split. Then, they went on to hammer the Clippers. Maybe don't taunt Kevin Durant when you're down 20, Clips:

15. New Orleans Pelicans (27-24, Last week: 14)

This week was a roller coaster for the Pelicans. Snapping the Hawks' winning streak was a great way to start the week, but splitting games against the Thunder and getting run out of the building by the Bulls left much to be desired.

It's been much of the same story for New Orleans this season: Anthony Davis needs to stay on the floor. He hurt his shoulder and missed most of the Saturday beatdown after taking a hard fall.

Still, it's hard to feel down about the Pelicans after Davis hit (arguably) the shot of the year against the Thunder:

16. Milwaukee Bucks (28-23, Last week: 15)

The Bucks' defense is second-best in the NBA, and Khris Middleton is a big part of the reason, as SB Nation's Mike Prada explained last week:

He's not a lockdown defender, but he knows how to use his length, a critical skill in Kidd's aggressive pick-and-roll scheme that shows ball-handlers a flood of bodies and arms on every screen. Middleton gets plenty of steals himself, but helps create many others.

Milwaukee allows a team-worst 103.2 points per 100 possessions when Middleton is on the bench. That drops down to 95.1 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor.

17. Charlotte Hornets (22-29, Last week: 17)

The Hornets haven't been able to put any of the pieces together this season and poor health might finally be too much to overcome. The Kemba Walker injury will hurt their chances of holding off the rest of the middling East.

18. Brooklyn Nets (21-29, Last week: 21)

The Nets had a great week, rattling off a three-game winning streak against solid competition before getting eviscerated by the Wizards. They're still very much in the hunt for the playoffs, but might be in a bit of trouble. The Nets don't play at home again until March 2.

19. Miami Heat (21-29, Last week: 18)

Is Hassan Whiteside the real deal? That's a question the Heat will have to ask themselves as the trade deadline looms and teams come knocking on their door looking for frontcourt help. He's averaging an insane 16.8 points and 15.3 rebounds since he started playing regular minutes, but is that a mirage or reality?

20. Indiana Pacers (20-32, Last week: 25)

This was the week of George Hill. First, he ended the Cavaliers' winning streak with this miraculous shot:

Then, he followed it up with another game-winner:

21. Boston Celtics (19-31, Last week: 23)

One of the big knocks on Marcus Smart was his lack of a perimeter shot, but since January he's averaging four three-point attempts per game while shooting 38 percent. It's far too early to tell if he can sustain a respectable clip from deep, but if he does, that opens up options on offense for Brad Stevens going forward.

22. Detroit Pistons (20-32. Last week: 20)

Detroit is 4-6 over their last 10, but are still just two games back from the eighth-seeded Heat. One very good run is enough to make a big difference in the standings, which says a lot about the Eastern Conference. If the Pistons pull off a playoff spot without Brandon Jennings, maybe Adam Silver should move forward with that playoff reform he hinted at recently.

23. Denver Nuggets (19-32, Last week: 22)

Things are getting desperate in Denver, so Brian Shaw did what any coach would do when cornered: He rapped a pregame report to his players. Did it work? The Nuggets lost by 30 and are currently in a five-game losing streak.

24. Utah Jazz (18-33, Last week: 19)

This was not a great week for the Jazz, but it was an even worse week for Miles Plumlee. He may never be the same again after Gordon Hayward threw down a nasty poster on him.

25. Sacramento Kings (18-32, Last week: 24)

Sacramento may be headed for a big swing if it can land George Karl as its next coach. Cousins' "camp" has reportedly held up this deal, which is a problem for the Kings. The haphazard firing of Michael Malone didn't go over well with Cousins and now they may have another coaching crisis.

26. Orlando Magic (16-38, Last week: 26)

The Magic fired Jacque Vaughn and their rebuild looks even longer now. That's not to say it was a mistake -- if the front office felt it was time to move, it was time to move -- but it's back to square one in team building and finding the next person to lead them out of this dark hole.

27. Philadelphia 76ers (12-40, Last week: 28)

Here's a stat nugget to hold on to when it comes to hope going forward: The 76ers and Bulls are both holding opponents to 102.1 points per 100 possessions.

28. New York Knicks (10-41, Last week: 27)

The most interesting thing going on in Knicks-land was James Dolan calling a fan an alcoholic.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-40, Last week: 30)

The Timberwolves' roster received a few much-needed helping hands with the return of both Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio. Minnesota stunned the Grizzlies in a one-point victory as Rubio put in eight points down the stretch Friday. You know a team is having a horrendous year when its first any-game winning streak of the season comes just one week out from All-Star weekend.

30. Los Angeles Lakers (13-38, Last week: 29)

The Lakers have lost 13 of their last 14 games as they try to secure their top-five protected 2015 first-round draft pick. Just don't let Byron Scott catch you tweeting about tanking.


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