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NBA Power Rankings: The Lakers look like the Lakers again

Mar 21, 2011, 2:14 PM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Notice that two of the top three are from the West? That’s because the East is stumbling toward the playoffs.

1. Lakers (50-20, LW #3). Four wins in a row and just one loss since the All-Star break. They won Monday without Andrew Bynum and will have another game without him Tuesday, but with his ongoing knee pain missing a couple games and getting a little more rest is not a bad thing.

2. Spurs (56-13, Last Week #1). They keep cruising along, their only two losses in March were to the Heat and the Lakers. If you see them lose a few more games from here on out, know that Popovich is resting his guys for the games that matter.

3. Bulls (49-19, LW #2). Still the best team in the East since the break, but the loss to a desperate Pacers team knocked them back a notch in these standing. With all due respect to Gregg Popovich, Doug Collins and the other candidates, Tom Thibodeau is the coach of the year.

4. Celtics (49-19, LW #5). The recent 3-4 slide shows just how important Rajon Rondo is to this team, and why they should sacrifice more games if it means getting him healthy.

5. Heat (48-22, LW #6). They beat the Spurs, then lose to the Thunder. It’s how things went during their tough stretch of 11 games, on which they went 5-6. But if you haven’t noticed they have now won 5 of their last 6 and for final few weeks the schedule lightens up.

6. Thunder (45-24, LW #7). They had won six in a row and are getting hot at the right time, except for that off game Sunday against the Raptors. The most important thing is their defense has looked better in recent games, and that side of the ball is key for them in the playoffs.

7. Mavericks (49-21, LW #4). The questions about their ability to beat top teams have grown louder after loss to Spurs, but at least Dirk Nowitzki has knocked down 58 straight free throws.

8. Magic (44-26, LW #8). They are treading water during a tough stretch of road games. Dwight Howard has averaged 20.9 points and 16.7 rebounds a game over the last 10.

9. Blazers (40-30, LW #11). Tough loss to the Bynum-less Lakers Sunday (on the second night of a back-to-back), but quality wins over Dallas and Philly show this as a team to take seriously.

10. Grizzlies (38-22, LW #9). They are just 1.5 games ahead of the hard-charging Rockets for the eighth spot in the West, and this week draw the Celtics, Bulls and Spurs in a row. Good luck with that.

11. Nuggets (41-29), LW #10). Tough trip through Florida, which is hard enough healthy but with banged up guards it is nearly impossible. Still, there is rightfully a lot of optimism around this team.

12. Sixers (36-34, LW #12). They are 2-3 on their recent five-game road trip and that brought them back down to earth. That and the banged up Andre Iguodala. Good news is they are home for all but four games the rest of the season.

13. Rockets (37-34, LW #17). They’ve won four in a row and moved into the ninth seed in the West, 1.5 games out of the playoffs. They are 7-3 in their last 10 ad have a legitimate chance of catching Memphis or anyone else that falters in the West.

14. Hornets (40-31, LW #13). A team capable of beating or losing to anyone any given game. They’ve got some big ones this week with the Jazz, Suns and Lakers — games the Hornets need to hold on to their playoff spot.

15. Hawks (40-30, LW #15). They are 5-8 since the All-Star break, mostly because their offense is unimpressive. Too much firepower on that team for the offense to be so flat.

16. Knicks (35-34, LW #14). Hey Carmelo, how’d you enjoy that honeymoon with the New York fans and media? The Knicks are not as bad as they have looked the last couple games, but they are not near as good as people thought right after the trade, either.

17. Suns (35-33, LW #16). Steve Nash looked a lot more healthy over the weekend, which is the only hope the Suns have of a big run to the playoffs.

18. Jazz (36-34, LW #19). They are clinging to playoff hopes, just two games back of the Grizzlies in the West, but they are going to do things like beat the Grizzlies Monday (especially after Sunday’s loss to the Rockets).

19. Warriors (30-40, LW #18). Monta Ellis, Steph Curry, Dorell Wright and David Lee have all actually played pretty well the last 10 games. After that the drop off is very, very steep.

20. Pacers (30-40, LW #23). They looked like they righted themselves last week, especially after beating Chicago. Then they looked terrible against Boston and lost to Memphis. They lead the battle of ugly that is the eighth seed in the East

21. Bucks (28-41, LW #22). They are 1.5 games out of a playoff spot and they should get Michael Redd back. Does that help the offense or become a distraction as they try to fit him in.

22. Clippers (27-44, LW #20). Teams are still beating on Blake Griffin pretty hard, and that has effected both his shot (he is shooting 43.4 percent his last 10 games, down from 50 percent for the entire season) and he fouled out twice last week. Debate the call on the second foul out all you want.

23. Bobcats (28-41, LW #21). They are still in the playoff hunt but a win over Indiana Wednesday seems key to that.

24. Pistons (25-45, LW #26). Rip Hamilton has been almost a steady 20 point a game guy lately, so isn’t it time for John Kuester to bench him? (Hamilton missed the last game due to a death in the family.)

25. Nets (22-46, LW #24). They are not making the playoffs, why push Deron Williams to return? They are still 5-5 in their last 10 with great play from Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries

26. Raptors (20-49, LW #27). They ended a 14-game road losing streak in Oklahoma City Sunday. That was unforeseen.

27. Kings (17-51, LW #28). This team is putting up some big offensive numbers recently, but nobody is talking about that in Sacramento.

28. Timberwolves (17-54, LW #25). If Kevin Love is out any length of time the Timberwolves could just fold their tents the rest of the season. More so than they already have.

29. Cavaliers (13-55, LW #29). They still appear a lock to have the most ping pong balls in the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes.

30. Wizards (15-51, LW #30). They needed a big game from John Wall late to beat a Nets team without Deron Williams. What matters is they got it. He’s figuring things out.

  1. zblott - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Power Rankings

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2011/3/21/behind-the-basket-power-rankings-28.html

  2. SmackSaw - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Is that Gavin Maloof high fiveing Kobe?

  3. loungefly74 - Mar 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Yes! Lakers are rolling right now! I love it! totally agree with the C’s comment, rondo is critical to their success. any of the top 8 could win the Finals this year.

    @zblott man, how do i say this? but plugging your own rankings list on some else’s site is tacky. though i guess since we are all here searching for knowledge, so in the grand scheme, it’s no biggie but it reeks of desperation. anyway…

    • zblott - Mar 21, 2011 at 3:51 PM

      @lounge – Thanks for your thoughts. Considering the people who read and comment on this board have made Kurt their whipping boy and keep flocking to my rankings every Monday, I think I’ll stay with what’s working.

      • loungefly74 - Mar 21, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        ya know…i take back any harsh criticism. that was a cheap shot and i’m better than that. this is a capitalistic society. a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. there are big fish and small fish and we are all swimming in the same pond. with that said, i did click on your link and found it enjoyable reading another person’s viewpoints…as i also find PBT’s stories enjoyable as well. carry on!

  4. cherdimus - Mar 21, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    “Notice that three of the top four are from the West? That’s because the East is stumbling toward the playoffs.”

    So it Boston or Chicago part of the West?

  5. davefoley0 - Mar 21, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    “Notice that three of the top four are from the West? ”

    Am I missing something? I see a 50/50 split.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 21, 2011 at 5:03 PM

      I messed up that opening. I had the Thunder No. 4 going in to Sunday because they were not going to lose and… well they lost and I dropped them a little for that rather ugly showing. But then forgot to change the intro, which was my Thunder-like screwup.

      It’s corrected now.

  6. omniusprime - Mar 24, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    Ofcourse two of the top three teams are from the Western Conference instead of the eastern CreamPuff Conference. I’m not surprised that the Repeat World Champion Lakers flipped the switch yet again and once again are the top power team. With Bynum back after his hard foul that shocked the wimpy NBA the Lakers will roll through the final games of the season and will Threepeat this June!

    Sorry Kurt Helin but Jerry Sloan deserves coach of the year award despite resigning early as he really did a great job of getting the Jazz to win so many games with that whiner Deron Williams. Thibodeau had it way too easy stealing players from the Jazz last summer and isn’t performing as well as one should expect from a team in the Eastern CreamPuff Conference.

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