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March 3, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Detroit (1):

Former Kentwood High star Rodney Stuckey made first NBA start in place of injured Chauncy Billups on Saturday and finished with nine points and five rebounds. Billups expected to return for Tuesday's game against Sonics.

2.

San Antonio (3):

14-3 with Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup. Damon Stoudamire, Kurt Thomas and newly signed Brent Barry give depth to the second highest scoring bench in the league. Nine-game winning streak is their longest this season.

3.

LA Lakers (2):

12-2 with Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant scores 52 points Sunday in OT win over Dallas. He has 22 games of 50-plus points in his career, 17 behind Michael Jordan (39) and 96 behind Wilt Chamberlain (118). Loss at Portland drops them a spot in the rankings.

4.

Houston (4):

15-game winning streak ties franchise record from 1993-94 when they won the title. Yao MIng opts for surgery and hopes to return for the Beijing Olympics. Yao will miss at least 20 games in the last three seasons.

5.

Boston (7):

Adding P.J. Brown is nice, but Sam Cassell is a difference maker. Still not sure if they have anyone who can defend LeBron James and Billups.

6.

Cleveland (8):

LeBron is the youngest player to reach 10,000 points. Owner Dan Gilbert, who approved the trades two weeks ago, has the third highest payroll at $81.2M. He'll also pay a $13.3M luxury tax.

7.

Dallas (10):

Coach Avery Johnson, an admitted control freak, has reluctanlty relinquinshed the reins of the offense to Jason Kidd, who is calling his own plays. Still Johnson made a big mistake benching Kidd for the last possession in loss at San Antonio.

8.

New Orleans (9):

If playoffs ended today, they would face Phoenix. 4-0 against the Suns. Sellout crowds in four of past six games. Averaging 16,258 in past six games. Need to average 15,174 to void the opt-out clause for next season.

9

Utah (5):

Only division leader with a losing road record. Just 13-19 away from Salt Lake City. Last road win against playoff-bound team was Jan. 27 at Houston.

10.

Golden State (13):

Easy week with three home wins against Seattle, Philadelphia and Portland. If playoffs ended today, they would play San Antonio. They are 2-0 vs. Spurs.

11.

Orlando (12):

Dwight Howard has seven games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu is third in fourth-quarter scoring behind Lebron and Kobe..

12.

Toronto (11):

Chris Bosh (sore knee) will sit out at least three games as the Raptors travel to Charlotte, Orlando and Miami.

13.

Denver (14):

Contending with Dallas and Phoenix for PG Tyronn Lue. Still 1 1/2 games behind Golden State for the eighth playoff spot. Just 23 games left.

14:

Philadelphia (15):

Big wins against Phoenix and Orlando. 11-1 in the second game of their last 12 back-to-back situations.

15.

Phoenix (6):

It's not working. 2-4 with Shaq. Just 6-13 against the top nine teams in the West. They've given up at least 120 points in 4 of 10 games w/o Shawn Marion.

16.

Washington (20):

3-1 last week with two big wins against New Orleans. All-Star Caron Butler has a torn muscle in left hip and there's no timetable for his return.

17.

Portland (18):

After failing to acquire Kidd, Devin Harris and Jose Calderon, Brandon Roy may have to switch full time to point guard next season to make room for newcomer Rudy Fernandez.

18.

New Jersey (17):

3-3 without Kidd. Devin Harris is happy to be away from Johnson. Said Johnson: "He likes absolute control, and he likes to run things a certain way."

19.

Indiana (25):

Dunleavy finally reaching his potential. He's scored 36 and 34 points respectively in past two games. Former Pistons G Flip Murray spurns LA Clippers and signed with Pacers.

20.

Atlanta (24):

GM Billy Knight reportedly wanted to fire Coach Mike Woodson at the trade deadline, but owners said no. Only 8 of their remaining 25 opponents have winning records.

21.

Sacramento (16):

It's time to bench Brad Miller and Mikki Moore and give their minutes to former Seattle Prep and Washington Husky star Spencer Hawes and Shelden Williams. Returned from 1-4 road trip and beat Miami at home on Sunday.

22.

Chicago (19):

After the three-team, 11-player trade, Bulls are the youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 24 years and 138 days. Why is Thabo Sefalosha starting? Four reserves average at least 11 points.

23.

New York (26):

Isiah Thomas reportedly tells injured Stephon Marbury to stay away from Knicks home games and prohibits him from talking to the media.

24.

Charlotte (28):

Draft mates Chris Paul and Deron Willimas are headed to the playoffs, but PG Raymond Felton is quietly putting together a solid sophomore season. He's averaging 14.1 points and 6.9 assists.

25.

Milwaukee (23):

Just when it looks like they've gained some momentum, they lose three straight. With Yao injured, Yi Jianlian is the biggest Chinese attraction in the league.

26.

Miami (30):

Just 2-8 since trade for Marion. Pat Riley hints that he'll shut Wade down soon. Riles said: "We've got to take care of our best asset."

27.

Sonics (22):

Started the longest road trip of the season with an OT win in Minnesota on Sunday for their sixth road win. G/F Mickael Gelabale appears to be backsliding in past couple of games.

28.

LA Clippers (21):

Forward Al Thornton will likely pulloff an upset and break Kevin Durant's streak of three Rookie of the Month awards. Thornton averaged 17.4 points in February and Durant had 18.1.

29.

Memphis (27):

8-game losing streak is the longest of the season and the longest since they started the 2002-03 season 0-13. Mike Miller (sore back) has missed the past six games and should return Wednesday.

30.

Minnesota (27):

Antoine Walker, who was hoping for a trade or a buyout, has been a no-show for the past couple of games. Walker makes $9.3M next season.

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