Posted: Fri February 22, 2013 3:43PM; Updated: Fri February 22, 2013 6:40PM
Matt Dollinger

Heat, Spurs stay hot at top of Power Rankings

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Miami Heat take the top spot in the NBA Power Rankings for another week.
The Heat have won nine straight games, extending their lead over the rest of the East to 5½ games.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The slumber that was the NBA trade deadline has passed. The Missed Slam Dunk Contest and All-Star weekend are also thankfully in the rear-view mirror.

That means we're officially in the stretch run of the regular season. Some teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, others for their playoff lives and a few unfortunate souls are already playing for next season.

The team on top Power Rankings for the second straight week, Miami, doesn't have much worrying to do. The Heat have won a season-high nine consecutive games, including six in a row by double digits, the latter stretch including victories against the Clippers, Thunder and Bulls. That hot streak has enabled Miami to hold off the similarly sizzling Spurs, who have won 16 of their last 17 games.

Here's where all 30 teams stand this week.

(Note: All statistics and records are through Feb. 21.)

NBA Power Rankings
1 Miami Heat
Last Week: 1
Since: 2-0
Miami Heat (38-14)
The All-Star break didn't do much to throw off the rhythm of LeBron James and the Heat. James went 11-of-15 for 26 points in his most recent masterpiece, Thursday's victory at Chicago. Miami allowed a season-low 67 points to the Bulls, and the defense has improved to ninth in points allowed per possession. Said LeBron: "We're putting together some good basketball right now." Said everyone else: "No kidding."
2 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 2
Since: 2-0
San Antonio has won six of its first seven on its nine-game rodeo road trip, the only loss coming at Detroit on Feb. 8 when Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were out. A 26-point dismantling of the Clippers on Thursday was yet another reminder of just how good the Spurs can be. With that victory, San Antonio improved to an NBA-best 22-10 on the road and opened a four-game lead over Oklahoma City in the race for home-court advantage in the West.
3 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 3
Since: 0-1
The Thunder made a sneaky-good addition at the deadline in Ronnie Brewer, who will serve as a solid defensive option off the bench. Oklahoma City could use some help on that end based on its recent struggles: Since holding the Suns to only 69 points on Feb. 10, the Thunder have surrendered an average of 113.6 points during their three-game losing streak. Old friend James Harden exploded for 46 points against them on Wednesday, when the Thunder squandered a 14-point lead with seven minutes left at Houston.
4 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 4
Since: 0-1
One question debated around the league before the deadline was: Are the Clippers good enough to win a title as is? We're about to find out, because the Clippers held on to guard Eric Bledsoe and their other asseets instead of making a move that could have upgraded their frontcourt. That puts a lot of pressure on L.A.'s primary reserve big men, Lamar Odom and Ryan Hollins.
5 Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 5
Since: 1-0
The Nuggets aren't ready to break up their young, talented nucleus, and who can blame them? No, the Nuggets don't have a traditional star like the four teams above them, but their diverse offensive attack produces the sixth-most points per possession. The defense is barely above average, but it has improved enough this season to warrant keeping this promising bunch together.
6 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 7
Since: 1-0
If we're talking about statement games, the Pacers' 34-point rout of the Knicks on Wednesday was quite the proclamation. Indiana's offense has perked up in recent weeks and will soon benefit from Danny Granger's return. Coach Frank Vogel will have to figure out how to work the team's leading scorer from the last five seasons back into the mix at a time when the Pacers are playing well and pushing for the No. 2 seed in the East. Granger's return also likely means a demotion for Lance Stephenson, who has been a big part of the Pacers' recent success.
7 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 8
Since: 2-0
Winners of five straight, the Grizzlies are showing no signs of offensive regression without Rudy Gay. Memphis has eclipsed 100 points three times during the winning streak, something it did only five times in its previous 31 games. The Grizzlies have shot 48.9 percent in the last five games, raising their season mark to 44.1, which is 22nd in the league.  
8 New York Knicks
Last Week: 6
Since: 0-1
The Knicks have lost four of five as the offense continues to cool off, with the only victory in that stretch an 11-point fourth-quarter comeback at Minnesota. New York is averaging 10.9 three-pointers for the season but only 7.8 in its last five games. And during their three-game losing streak, the Knicks have scored 91 points or fewer each time.
9 Brooklyn Nets
Last Week: 9
Since: 2-0
The Nets stretched their winning streak to four with back-to-back victories against Milwaukee in their first two games after the break. The offense is clicking once again. The Nets rank 19th in points per game, but they're 21-4 when scoring at least 97 points, something they've done in their last three games. Brooklyn failed to add another playmaker at the deadline, but more efficiency from Deron Williams could be enough of a difference maker. 
10 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 12
Since: 1-0
Is there any doubt that GM Daryl Morey has earned Executive of the Year? He added productive starters Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in free agency; acquired first-time All-Star James Harden on the eve of the season; and obtained Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft, at the deadline in hopes that the athletic forward will blossom in Houston's up-tempo attack. Morey has managed to turn a team littered with question marks into a team loaded with exclamation points. Most promising of all, the Rockets are only going to get better. Houston has one player (30-year-old Carlos Delfino) older than 26.
11 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 10
Since: 1-1
The Warriors finally ended their six-game skid by beating the Suns on Wednesday, but Golden State has plenty of reason to worry. The Warriors are giving up 112 points per game during their 2-6 February. During their best stetch of the season, the Warriors went 12-4 in December while allowing 98.3 points. Golden State needs to rediscover what made its defense so stingy earlier in the season.
12 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 11
Since: 1-1
Like so many teams, the Bulls decided to stand pat rather than make a move for the sake of making a move. No team will get a bigger boost during the stretch run than Chicago if Derrick Rose returns. But not everyone in the Windy City is happy that the Bulls were quiet at the deadline -- namely Rose's brother.
13 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 14
Since: 1-0
Utah Jazz (31-24)
The Jazz curiously held on to veteran big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson at the deadline. Utah is exceeding expectations this season, but the Jazz are still on track to be a lower-seeded playoff team that now runs the risk of getting nothing in return for either Millsap or Jefferson when they hit the free-agent market in July. The Jazz seemed to have everything in place to unclog their frontcourt, create more playing time for young big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter and land a talented guard in a trade for Millsap or Jefferson. Instead, they'll face a lot of interesting decisions this summer.
14 Boston Celtics
Last Week: 13
Since: 0-2
The Celtics got off to an unlikely 7-0 start after losing Rajon Rondo for the season, but six of those games were at home. Boston is 1-3 since then, losing all three of its road games. Realizing the team needed reinforcements, Danny Ainge traded for guard Jordan Crawford, a capable scorer but questionable decision maker who had been benched in Washington. It's worth a shot to boost the Celtics' offense, which ranks 25th in points per possession, and the backcourt, which had been operating without Rondo and another player lost for the season with a knee injury, Leandro Barbosa (who was sent to Washington in the deal).
15 Atlanta Hawks
Last Week: 15
Since: 0-1
GM Danny Ferry had no problem shuffling the Hawks' roster last offseason, but he chose to keep Josh Smith at the deadline rather than trade him for players he didn't really want. Whether he's worth it or not, Smith will likely receive something close to a max contract this summer, meaning his days in Atlanta could be numbered. If the forward walks for nothing this summer, Ferry is banking that the cap room created by Smith's departure will be more valuable than any players or draft picks the Hawks could have received for him in a trade.
16 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 16
Since: 0-2
The Bucks pulled off the biggest move of the deadline by acquiring J.J. Redick, a sharpshooter who will undoubtedly lift an ailing offense (24th in points per possession). It's unclear how Redick will fit in with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but unlike those two, Redick doesn't need the ball to be effective. Few move better without it, and Redick will likely be able to find open spaces while his talented backcourt mates try to facilitate. The deadline addition should be enough to push the Bucks into the playoffs. The real intrigue, though, could come in the offseason, as Jennings will be a restricted free agent, Redick will be an unrestricted free agent and Ellis can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent.
17 Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 20
Since: 1-0
We all know the Lakers have the talent to make the playoffs, but they have their work cut out for them. They trail No. 8 Houston by 3½ games, No. 7 Utah by five games and No. 6 Golden State by 5½ games. Unsurprisingly, Kobe Bryant's confidence hasn't wavered, as he guaranteed a playoff berth in a recent interview with Jack McCallum for a story in this week's Sports Illustrated.
18 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 17
Since: 1-0
The Mavericks are sticking with their .500 beards in their quest to return to respectability. Will Dirk Nowitzki and Co. be able to make up the five-game difference? A recent poll from the Dallas Morning News shows that Mavericks fans aren't so sure. Dallas has won four of its last five, but its schedule over the next two weeks doesn't provide many easy outs, likely giving the Mavericks a little extra time to charge those razors.
19 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 19
Since: 0-1
Eric Maynor has played only 10.6 minutes per game for Oklahoma City this year, but he'll be a pivotal player in Portland, which gets a backup for Damian Lillard and some offensive punch for a punchless bench. No one on the Blazers' bench averages more than 4.1 points, leaving plenty of opportunities for the incoming fourth-year guard to make an impact. While Maynor missed nearly all of last season with an ACL tear and struggled to re-establish himself this season in Oklahoma City, he averaged 10.4 points and 7.1 assists per 36 minutes when he played all 82 games in 2010-11. GM Neil Olshey said Maynor would play alongside Lillard at times, too.
20 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 18
Since: 0-1
Andrew Bynum reared his half-braided head the other day, telling reporters he believes he will return to practice in 1-2 weeks. After missing so much time, Bynum is unlikely to resemble right away the player who averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Lakers last season. But he should give the 76ers (and other potential suitors for the soon-to-be free agent) a glimpse at what he'll look like once he's back in game shape.  
21 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 21
Since: 1-1
The Raptors elected to hang on to Andrea Bargnani until at least this summer, giving him a chance to boost his value and the team an opportunity for an extended look at the nucleus of Bargnani, Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Toronto has won five of six and trails Milwaukee by five games for the No. 8 spot.
22 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 23
Since: 1-1
The Pistons have split eight games since Jose Calderon joined the starting lineup after arriving in the Rudy Gay trade. Calderon is averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 assists and 1.8 turnovers as a Piston, and his insertion as a starter has moved Brandon Knight into more of an off-the-ball role. Knight had one of his better-shooting games of the season in making 7-of-11 for 21 points in Wednesday's win over Charlotte, but he hyperextended his knee and will miss Friday's game against Indiana.  
23 Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: 25
Since: 1-0
After turning heads at All-Star weekend, Kyrie Irving continued to amaze in his first game back, exploding for 35 points (including 18 of 20 in one fourth-quarter stretch) against New Orleans and fueling Cleveland's eighth win in its last 14 games. Irving is averaging 29.5 points on 53.7 percent shooting in victories but 20.6 points on 43 percent shooting in losses.
24 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 22
Since: 0-1
The Wizards cleared some space in their crowded backcourt by trading Jordan Crawford, a move that reinforces Washington's plan to develop chemistry between John Wall and Bradley Beal. Crawford is a talented scorer who is averaging 18.1 points per 36 minutes, but he was far too commanding of a presence in the offense for a player who wasn't a big part of the team's future. 
25 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 26
Since: 1-0
Nikola Pekovic is playing is his way into a nice contract this summer as a restricted free agent. With Kevin Love injured, the 27-year-old center leads the Wolves in scoring (16.1) and rebounding (9.1). In Wednesday's win at Philadelphia, Pekovic scored 27 points and matched his career high with 18 rebounds.
26 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 24
Since: 0-2
Which Hornets will we see down the stretch? Will it be the team that finished 4-1 before the All-Star break with a combined plus-62 point differential? Or will it be the one that dropped back-to-back games since the break and played one with Eric Gordon in street clothes? Gordon's health is as important a variable as any for the Hornets. New Orleans has played .500 ball since early January but could easily revert to its early-season struggles if Gordon is unable to stay on the court. 
27 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 28
Since: 1-1
Phoenix Suns (18-37)
The Suns pulled off a savvy move at the deadline by picking up Marcus Morris for just a second-ronud pick. Pairing Marcus, the 14th pick in 2012, with his identical twin, Markieff, who was selected one spot ahead of his brother, not only makes sense for the obvious chemistry reasons, but it also gives the Suns another promising player for their frontcourt mix. Marcus was averaging 8.6 points in 21.4 minutes for Houston.
28 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 27
Since: 0-1
The Kings gave up on Thomas Robinson just 51 games after drafting him fifth. Robinson hasn't gotten off to the best start as a King, but growing pains are expected from a 21-year-old power forward. Along with saving a little money, the Kings get a solid, role-playing forward in Patrick Patterson who played alongside DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky. Sacramento surely hopes that Patterson can have a calming effect on the volatile Cousins. 
29 Orlando Magic
Last Week: 29
Since: 0-2
Everyone in the NBA knew that the rebuilding Magic would probably not re-sign impending free agent J.J. Redick this summer, so getting equal value for the sweet-shooting guard who is enjoying a career year (15.1 points) was unlikely to happen. Much like in the Dwight Howard situation, GM Rob Hennigan was forced to execute a trade without any leverage. Orlando will hope that Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris, both on rookie deals, can turn into rotation players.
30 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 30
Since: 1-1
The Bobcats had to be encouraged with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's performance in Wednesday's loss to Detroit -- and not just because he had this vicious dunk. The forward finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots, a strong line for a player whose production has declined as his rookie season has progressed. 
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