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Houston, hello

Rockets ride hot streak to top spot; Sixers also rise

Posted: Monday February 25, 2008 12:30PM; Updated: Tuesday February 26, 2008 4:07PM
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(Editor's note: These rankings were compiled before the Rockets announced that Yao Ming would miss the rest of the season.)

All-Star weekend is history. The trade deadline has come and gone. Now it's time to get back to playing basketball.

With so many blockbuster deals in recent weeks, it's going to take a few weeks for many teams to get settled. In the meantime, look for the carousel at the top of the West to keep spinning. This week it's Houston's turn to claim the mantle of NBA's hottest team.

This week's high riser: Sixers (No. 16 from 21)
This week's big drop: Sonics (No. 29 from 23)

NBA Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 4 They entered the week having won 12 in a row and 16 of 17 overall to move into contention in the Southwest Division. Plus, they still have a slew of home games ahead.
2 1 Friday's loss at the Clippers knocks them out of the top spot in these rankings. But Jerry Sloan's troops still have won 20 of 24, including 14 straight at home, to open up a 2-game cushion in the Northwest Division.
3 5 Gee, Kobe Bryant's pinkie sure had a miraculous recovery, didn't it? The Lakers' star pumped in 21 points in 26 minutes Sunday as they won at Seattle to make it eight straight. He also had 41 to slay the Suns last Wednesday.
4 3 Sunday's romp at Phoenix was the perfect way to kick off a four-game Western trip. Given their 12-2 record since Jan. 23 -- and Boston's struggles of late -- don't they have to be considered the East's top dog right now?
5 9 Led by Manu Ginobili (34.4 points over his last five games), they've won five straight and nine of 10 to climb back atop the Southwest Division. Meanwhile, Kurt Thomas could be a key pickup for their frontcourt.
6 10 The Great Shaq Experiment is going to take some time. The Big Cactus averaged 8.7 points and 11.3 rebounds over his first three games, but they dropped two of three and their offense was not humming like usual.
7 2 Not even the return of Kevin Garnett (abdominal strain) could prevent last week's losses at Denver, Phoenix and Golden State. At least they got back on track a bit with Sunday's win at Portland.
8 8 Unlike Shaq, Jason Kidd (17 assists in Sunday's win over the Timberwolves) has hit the ground running with his new team. But can he push them over the top in Thursday's big showdown at San Antonio?
9 7 The All-Star hosts must have been tired coming out of the break as they dropped games last week to the Rockets and Spurs. Maybe this week's visits from the Suns (Wednesday) and Jazz (Friday) will get them going again.
10 6 The loss of Andris Biedrins (appendectomy) could be a blow to a club that sorely needs his inside presence. They're hoping Chris Webber (4.3 points, 3.7 rebounds in 15.3 minutes in his first six games) can help pick up the slack.

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