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NBA Power Rankings: Bulls Rise To The Top As Thunder, Heat Falter

The Bulls take the top spot in the NBA Power Rankings after a perfect week that also saw losses for the Thunder, Heat and Clippers.

Mar 04, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) during the first quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Mar 04, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) during the first quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

After the first full week of action following the All-Star break, four of the five elite teams in the league suffered at least one loss. The team that didn't -- the Chicago Bulls -- leads this week's NBA Power Rankings.

Further down the docket, the Boston Celtics rise up, the Philadelphia 76ers continue to flutter downward and the Charlotte Bobcats remain a crime against basketball.

All records are current through Sunday's action.

Rank Team Record Last Week SB Nation Blog
1. Chicago Bulls 31-8 W: NO, SA, CLE, PHI Blog-a-Bull
The Bulls were the only elite team without a loss (or two) in the post-All-Star ramp-up. The closest call came Sunday against the 76ers, but Derrick Rose was simply too much. Derrick Rose is simply too much.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 29-8 W: PHI, ORL; L: ATL Welcome To Loud City
The Thunder's loss came to Atlanta as OKC's offense had a rough night thanks largely to turnovers (21), a repeat problem. But you can't blame Russell Westbrook, he only had two!
3. Miami Heat 28-9 W: POR; L: UTA, LAL Peninsula Is Mightier
I'm not sure really sure what was wrong with Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Sunday, but if I've learned anything from children's books, it's that he might have a thorn in his paw or perhaps a pea under one of his many mattresses.
4. San Antonio Spurs 25-12 W: CHA; L: CHI, DEN Pounding The Rock
A Friday matchup with the Clippers -- with Manu Ginobili back on the court -- could tell us a lot about the Spurs' chances in April, May and (gulp) June. Or one of the teams could no-show, a concept foreign to neither club, and it could just be another regular season game. LOCKOUT SEASON!
5. L.A. Clippers 22-13 W: SAC, HOU; L: MIN, PHX Clips Nation
For every dispiriting, ugly loss like the Suns' game -- they scored 78 points ... on the Suns! -- L.A. finishes something like the Houston game on Sunday and makes you believe. I can't find a playoff matchup for the Clippers that wouldn't be awesome to watch. (Donald Sterling is still scum.)
6. L.A. Lakers 23-14 W: MIN, SAC, MIA Silver Screen And Roll
That wasn't a typo in the Chicago entry: The Bulls were the only elite team without a loss this week. The Lakers have eight road games this month. Let's see how they do away from STAPLES Center.
7. Indiana Pacers 23-12 W: GS, NO Indy Cornrows
This is going to be just a brutal two weeks for Indiana, with games against the Bulls, Heat, Magic, Clippers, Sixers and Knicks (twice). The dangerous if flagging Blazers represent the easiest foe on the docket. Yikes.
8. Memphis Grizzlies 22-15 W: DAL, TOR, DET Straight Outta Vancouver
So what odds can I get on Memphis making the Finals right now?
9. Orlando Magic 24-14 W: WAS, MIL; L: OKC Orlando Pinstriped Post
If Orlando wants to make the playoffs despite trading Dwight Howard, holding onto the center until the very last minute might be worth it. The four games leading up to March 15: at Chicago, vs. Indiana, vs. Miami, at San Antonio.
10. Denver Nuggets 21-17 W: POR, HOU, SA Denver Stiffs
The Nuggets had a brutal week on the schedule coming out of All-Star ... and aced it. Kings, Cavs and Hornets this week looks much easier. Let's go streaking.
11. Dallas Mavericks 22-16 W: UTA; L: NJ, MEM, NO Mavs Moneyball
Saturday's win over Utah was certainly much-needed, but the continued confusion about what the heck happened with Lamar Odom remains at front of mind. The amateur psychology going on here is astounding.
12. Houston Rockets 21-17 W: TOR; L: UTA, DEN, LAC The Dream Shake
Unfortunately, Houston met a tough stretch coming out of All-Star ... and didn't get Ws. But overall, the Rockets' schedule to run out the season is favorable. They'll have a chance to cinch up a playoff berth if they can close some games out.
13. Boston Celtics 19-17 W: CLE, MIL, NJ, NY CelticsBlog
The opponents didn't exactly constitute a murderer's row, but Boston got the job done this week. They will be studying Rajon Rondo's Sunday triple-double in Ancient Civ classes in the future.
14. Atlanta Hawks 22-15 W: MIL, OKC; L: GS Peachtree Hoops
Barring another major injury or some shake-up trades in the ATL, the Hawks aren't going to get caught by the Knicks, and maybe not the Celtics, either. Given the outlook when Al Horford went down, that's some kind of minor miracle.
15. Philadelphia 76ers 22-16 W: DET, GS; L: OKC, CHI Liberty Ballers
It's hard to find too much fault in losing to the Bulls and Thunder, but Philadelphia isn't convincing anyone it can beat teams of that caliber in the playoffs. It shouldn't need to in the first round on account of leading the Atlantic, but fans had higher hopes than "second-round knockout" when Philly got off to that blazing start.
16. New York Knicks 18-19 W: CLE; L: BOS Posting And Toasting
You know, for all of the hubbub of Melo's supposed failure and Lin's supposed salvation, the Knicks are exactly where they were a year ago.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves 19-19 W: POR, LAC; L: LAL, PHX Canis Hoopus
The Wolves remain in the playoff mix, and it's beginning to look as if they'll stick there for the long haul, thanks to Portland's collapse and the Rockets' missteps. Another talent addition could really help their case, though.
18. Utah Jazz 17-19 W: HOU, MIA; L: SAC, DAL SLC Dunk
Beating Miami is always huge, but that win over Houston was an especially important one, as it pulled the Rockets back down toward the No. 8 seed as Utah makes its assault.
19. Portland Trail Blazers 18-19 L: DEN, MIA, MIN Blazer's Edge
Portland's fall from grace has flipped to soap opera mode, with players calling out other unnamed players and Nate McMillan cleaning up his resumé. This is all Rasheed's fault, somehow.
20. Phoenix Suns 17-20 W: MIN, LAC, SAC Bright Side of the Sun
Phoenix couldn't possibly make the playoffs ... right? The fact that I have to add them in future iterations of a West playoff race is more than I expected, so kudos, Phoenix!
21. Cleveland Cavaliers 13-22 L: BOS, NY, CHI, WAS Fear The Sword
Here lay the 2011-12 Cleveland Cavaliers, who were surprisingly OK for two months but are dropping games to the Washington Wizards.
22. Milwaukee Bucks 14-23 W: WAS; L: BOS, ATL, ORL BrewHoop
Boston's resurgence pretty much ends the Bucks' playoff quest for this season. What a drag this team has become since the John Salmons-fueled playoff run. John Salmons ruins everything. Everything.
23. Toronto Raptors 12-25 W: NO, GS; L: HOU, MEM Raptors HQ
The Raptors might become the next League Pass cult favorite, provided that Jonas Valanciunas arrives in style. Linas Kleiza will never let us forget that Linas Kleiza is Linas Kleiza.
24. Golden State Warriors 14-20 W: ATL; L: IND, PHI, TOR Golden State of Mind
The Warriors remain now and forevermore the best bad team in the NBA.
25. Detroit Pistons 12-26 W: CHA; L: PHI, MEM Detroit Bad Boys
Detroit's having one of those seasons that gives the fans high hopes heading into next year. But without a major gamechanger in the draft or serious shake-up trades/free agent acquisitions, this club is far, far away from good.
26. New Jersey Nets 12-26 W: CHA, DAL; L: BOS Nets Daily
The only thing more amazing than Deron Williams' 57 points on Sunday: The Nets only barely beat the Bobcats.
27. New Orleans Hornets 9-28 W: DAL; L: CHI, TOR, IND At The Hive
Chris Kaman is playing as well as he has in a couple years, ironically lifting his "trade value" and making it ... more difficult to trade him! Amazing.
28. Sacramento Kings 12-25 W: UTA; L: LAC, LAL, PHX Sactown Royalty
Every game is a win right now, you guys. Here we stayed!
29. Washington Wizards 8-28 W: CLE; L: MIL, ORL Bullets Forever
The most cruel thing Randy Wittman can do now is make it seem as though he's having a positive impact on this sad club.
30. Charlotte Bobcats 4-31 L: DET, SA, NJ Rufus On Fire
Pray for Cardboard Gerald.