NBA Power Rankings: Week Fifteen

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The All-Star break is fast approaching, signalling the turn onto the finishing stretch as teams make a break for post-season seeds or consolidate their descent to the depths for a stronger lottery chance.

The past week has thrown up a range of eyebrow-raising results and a pair of baffling performances from games involving the two Los Angeles-based teams.

In we go.

All records and statistics are correct as of Tuesday 11th February 2014.

Feb 9, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) holds the ball against the New York Knicks at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-12)

Kevin Durant has lit the league on fire and is on his way to a career-high season average of 31.1 points per game. And they get Russell Westbrook back for the stretch run to the playoffs. Unfair.

2. Indiana Pacers (39-11)

We’ll ignore the result against Orlando, one of the stranger ends to an NBA game you’ll see in a while. The Pacers haven’t been outright destroying opponents so much of late (except the Nuggets), but they still grind out the wins and hold what should be an unassailable lead for the East’s top seed.

February 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) controls the ball against the defense of Philadelphia 76ers small forward Evan Turner (12) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

3. Miami Heat (35-14)

Some will push the Heat down for losing to the Utah Jazz this week. Of Miami’s 14 losses, 10 have come to sub-.500 teams. However, that suggests a team needing a challenge, as they clearly have enough to take on the better teams in the league.

4. Los Angeles Clippers (36-18)

Got Chris Paul back, played the Sixers and were up by as much as 56 points. These three things may be related. Also, Blake Griffin has been unbelievable since Paul went down and has single-handedly kept the Clippers alive during that stretch.

Jan 24, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) reacts to a foul in the first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

5. Houston Rockets (35-17)

Houston had a solid week, including an impressive 14-point win against the Suns. Now holding a five-game winning streak. Will they move Omer Asik by the trade deadline?

6. San Antonio Spurs (37-15)

Injuries. Injuries everywhere for the Spurs. They need the All-Star break so they can get healthy for an important stretch run. With teams as good as Phoenix and Golden State probably landing in the bottom half of the playoff bracket, positioning will be critical.

Feb 7, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) drives to the basket past Utah Jazz point guard Alec Burks (10) during the second half at American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Jazz 103-81. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

7. Dallas Mavericks (31-21)

This really wasn’t how this season was supposed to go but nobody’s complaining. Dirk’s final few years should at least have some playoff appearances.

8. Phoenix Suns (30-20)

Hands up who had the Suns here this far into the season? Not even the Suns front office expected this incredible season. Jeff Hornacek needs one more miracle to qualify for sainthood.

Feb 1, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) hugs Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) after the Blazers 106-103 win over Raptors at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

9. Portland Trail Blazers (36-15)

Portland’s defense, bad all season but bailed out by the offense, could be a real worry in the postseason, where scoring is generally lower. The bench is still a sore point too, though tighter rotations in the playoffs will help.

10. Golden State Warriors (31-21)

Beat the Bulls in a comeback then ran into the Phoenix Suns’ offensive buzz-saw. Only won five of their last ten and are firmly on the outside of the race for homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

Feb 9, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd (left) shakes hands with New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams after a game at Barclays Center. The Nets defeated the Pelicans 93-81. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

11. Brooklyn Nets (23-26)

Remember how bad the Nets were in the first two months? Credit must be given to Jason Kidd, who has turned it around after a rocky start.

12. Memphis Grizzlies (27-23)

Regressing slightly after that impressive winning streak got their season back on track. Only the Clippers hold a winning record over their next five games.

Feb 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau on the sideline during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

13. Chicago Bulls (25-25)

Is there another coach in the league who is able to turn players nobody wants into viable options in an NBA offense as well as Tom Thibodeau? Answers on a postcard please.

14. Toronto Raptors (27-24)

The decision by Chris Grant in Cleveland to take Tristan Thompson over Jonas Valanciunas could have cost him his job. Valanciunas is on course to become a very good NBA big man in a few years.

Feb 12, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) and Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Corey Brewer (13) celebrate during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Target Center. The Timberwolves won 117-90. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

15. Atlanta Hawks (25-24)

It’s like somebody has a set of voodoo dolls of Hawks players and is sticking needles into different body parts.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-28)

Nursing a four-game slide, the Wolves play the Pacers, Blazers and Suns in their next five. NBA schedules can be brutal at times.

Feb 11, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) signals to his teammates during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

17. Washington Wizards (25-25)

Despite another slow start, the Wizards finally moved above .500 for the first time since Halloween 2009 and should secure that elusive playoff berth this season.

18. New Orleans Pelicans (22-29)

Anthony Davis was named as an injury backup for the West’s All-Star team, replacing Kobe Bryant. Biggest no-brainer of the year for a guy who should’ve been in from the start.

Feb 12, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic shooting guard Victor Oladipo (5), power forward Glen Davis (11) and center Nikola Vucevic (9) look on as they wait as tghe referees look at a call during the second half at Amway Center. Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Orlando Magic 86-81. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

19. Orlando Magic (16-37)

Big leap for Orlando this week – they beat the two best teams in the league in back-to-back games. What’s more impressive is beating the Thunder and Pacers after trailing by double digits to both. Jacque Vaughn is coaching these guys into a future threat.

20. Charlotte Bobcats (22-29)

Still holding a playoff spot, which is nice. Impressive win in Oakland, holding the Warriors to just 75 points on their own floor.

Feb 9, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson reacts from the sidelines against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

21. New York Knicks (20-31)

Mike Woodson thinks he’ll be sacked by the All-Star game and noise amongst fans suggests they should trade Carmelo Anthony before he leaves for nothing. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

22. Denver Nuggets (24-26)

Denver’s rollercoaster continues. Losses to the Knicks and Pistons undo the positive momentum from wins against the Clippers and Bucks.

Feb 11, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

23. Sacramento Kings (17-34)

The Kings may not be good right now, but they have plenty of solid pieces to build with. DeMarcus Cousins looks like he has finally figured it out while Isaiah Thomas continues to defy those who passed over him in the draft, i.e. everybody.

24. Detroit Pistons (22-29)

Joe Dumars has now employed eight head coaches in 14 years as GM, not counting interims. A petition was also filed to the White House to get Rasheed Wallace the job. Go Pistons.

Feb 12, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz point guard Alec Burks (10) prepares to shoot a free throw during the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 105-100. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

25. Utah Jazz (17-33)

They’ve been regressing a little of late but came up with a nice win against the Heat on the back of strong play by Derrick Favors and Richard Jefferson. It takes a lot to hold LeBron to just four made shots.

26. Boston Celtics (16-34)

How long until a seemingly innocuous collision rules Rajon Rondo out for the season? Embrace the tank, Boston.

Jun 28, 2013; Independence, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant during a press conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (18-33)

Fired General Manager Chris Grant this week which seems like a rather futile move given the lack of cohesion on the floor is something he cannot change quickly. Then you examine his body of work and nod silently in agreement.

28. Los Angeles Lakers (18-33)

Took part in the most bizarre game of the season as they were left with only four eligible players thanks to injury and foul trouble. Did anybody really know the rule that allowed Robert Sacre to play on after fouling out?

Feb 12, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight (11) drives for the basket as New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers (25) defends during the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

29. Milwaukee Bucks (9-41)

Trade chatter linking the Bucks with Cleveland’s Dion Waiters. Not seeing why this is necessary or even plausible.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (15-38)

Lost by 45 to the Clippers and followed up by losing by 43 against Golden State. Outscored by 88 points in two games? Welcome to the basement.

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