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NBA Power Rankings: Chaos Reigns Behind San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs continue to pace the league, now approaching 50 wins as no other team has hit 40. The Boston Celtics took down the Miami Heat, and the L.A. Lakers took down to the Celtics, so you'd think the Lakers stood atop the heap of the Spurs' chasers. But the Charlotte Bobcats would like to cast their vote for Chaos, so alas, there is no clear-cut No. 2 in the NBA.

Our NBA Power Rankings try to sort out to carnage before the All-Star break and trade deadline through everything back into flux.

1. San Antonio Spurs (46-9, Previous: #1) -- Can the Spurs hit 50 wins before 10 losses? The next four opponents to round out February are the Bulls (this Thursday on TNT), Thunder, Nets and Grizzlies. San Antonio will be favored in each match-up, but Derrick Rose poses a serious challenge for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

2. Miami Heat (39-15, Prev: #2) -- Last-second loss to the Celtics aside, Miami's margin of victory remains on par with that of San Antonio. When the Heat win, they win big. When they lose, they lose by just a little. (Excepting games in which LeBron James didn't play, the Heat haven't lost by more than six points since November.) Miami is +16 over the past week. Boston is -3.

3. Boston Celtics (39-14, Prev: #3) -- That said, Boston has a huge tiebreaker advantage over Miami and half-game lead after Sunday's win. The Celtics are 27-7 at home in the past three postseason. If a playoff series between the C's and Heat is played in Boston, Miami has a tough slog.

4. Los Angeles Lakers (38-18, Prev: #4) -- L.A.'s February road trip turned sour in a hurry with back-to-back blow-out losses in Orlando and Charlotte. Meanwhile, the Spurs continue to win and pull away, and even the Mavericks have catapulted over L.A. The West won't be the cakewalk it was last year.


5. Chicago Bulls (36-16, Prev: #6) -- Things really could gone wrong after consecutive losses to the Warriors and Blazers, but the Bulls handled the Jazz and Hornets with relative ease. A big showdown with the Spurs on Thursday looms. More important is whether this team really takes off when Joakim Noah returns, hopefully next week.


6. Orlando Magic (35-21, Prev: #8) -- Four key Magic players (Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas) are shooting worse than 40 percent over Orlando's last 10 games. They are helping making Dwight Howard's MVP case.

7. Dallas Mavericks (38-16, Prev: #5) -- The Mavericks might have had a nice win streak before Arron Afflalo's buzzer beater last Thursday, but look at the margins and the competition. A two-point win over the Cavs? A two-point win over the Kings? That's not impressing too many folks. The schedule remains soft until the second week of March. It pays to have frontloaded schedule.

8. New Orleans Hornets (33-23, Prev: #7) -- The Hornets are either the league's most erratic team, or it's currently playing like blech and just has Orlando's number. A win over the Magic salvaged an otherwise terrible week.


9. Denver Nuggets (31-25, Prev: #10) -- Denver has a one-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot. I know we talked about the potential for the Nuggets falling out of the playoff race if they were to trade Carmelo Anthony. But to keep him and miss the playoffs? Yeesh.


10. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-19, Prev: #9) -- The Thunder were a Tyreke Evans three-pointer from an 0-3 week against the Grizzlies, Kings and Warriors. After the break, OKC has a nice Orlando-San Antonio-Lakers gauntlet to run.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (30-26, Prev: #11) -- Will the Grizzlies make a significant move to improve at the deadline? They are in better position to make the playoffs this season as compared to last year; a year ago, they traded a first-round pick for Ronnie Brewer. Can they find some help at point guard on the trade market?


12. Philadelphia 76ers (26-28, Prev: #17) -- The Sixers have nearly the same point margin as the Hawks ... against a tougher schedule. Philadelphia might be more dangerous than the Hawks and Knicks in the first round.


13. Houston Rockets (26-30, Prev: #13) -- It's a shame that this weird, lovable Rockets team likely won't make the playoffs. If Yao Ming were playing even 25 minutes a game, Houston would be right in the mix with the Jazz, Blazers, Nuggets and Grizzlies. Alas ...

14. Atlanta Hawks (34-20, Prev: #12) -- Atlanta's soft record to date will come back to make the team look far less dangerous by the end of the season, unless the team can put together some consistent runs. That means no more 34-point losses to Philadelphia. (Hey, at least when the Hawks lose they lose in style.)


15. Portland Trail Blazers (31-24, Prev: #16) -- The Blazers have soared to a tie with the Jazz for the No. 6 spot in the West. But these easy opponents -- four of the five in the current winning streak were the Cavs, Raptors, Wolves and Pistons -- will dry up soon enough. Portland remains a team to watch at the deadline.