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March 10, 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.

Houston (4):

Tracy McGrady is working himself into the MVP conversation. Their 18-game winning streak is the fourth longest in NBA history. Expect them to win three more before falling to the Lakers on Sunday.

2.

Boston (5):

First team to clinch a playoff berth. Held Detroit to just one point in the final 5:38 minutes in Wednesday's big win. Ray Allen's scoring is down eight points from career-best last season with the Sonics.

3.

LA Lakers (2):

Uncharacteristic slip against Sacramento on Sunday cost them the top spot in the rankings. Injured Andrew Bynum has started individual workouts and could begin practicing with the team next week.

4.

Detroit (1):

One loss and they drop from first to fourth, which shows how strong the top teams are. Still they have the best 9-man rotation in the NBA.

5.

San Antonio (2):

Disregard loss to Denver because it was the second game of a back-to-back set, however, the defeat at Phoenix may be a harbinger if the Spurs meet the Suns in the playoffs. The game of the week features the Spurs at Detroit on Friday in a potential Finals preview.

6.

New Orleans (8):

Big game Wednesday as San Antonio visits the Big Easy. Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who received a second chance after two-year suspension for substance abuse, could make his season debut this week.

7.

Utah (9):

Andrei Kirilenko suffered a sprained right hip after getting knocked to the floor by Dirk Nowitzki on Monday and missed the past three games.

8.

Orlando (11):

Dwight Howard looking to join Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players in NBA history to average at least 20 point, 10 rebounds and shoot better than .600 from the field.

9

Cleveland (6):

LeBron James became the youngest player to reach 10,000 career points at 23 years, 59 days, beating out Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24 years, 194 days) by about a year. James is fewer than 400 points from overtaking Brad Daugherty as Cleveland's all-time scorer.

10.

Golden State (10):

An MRI taken on Chris Webber's sore left knee revealed no new structural damage, but the 35-old will likely miss the rest of Golden State's current road trip.

11.

Denver (13):

Allen Iverson: "We still have an opportunity to get in. We just don’t need to panic right now." Still two games behind Golden State. Of Denver's 16 games in March, 14 are against foes in playoff position. Karl set a goal to win 10 games this month.

12.

Dallas (7):

Time to re-evaluate the Jason Kidd trade. Tyronn Lue chooses Mavericks over four other teams.

13.

Philadelphia (14):

Saved about $300,000 waiving Gordon Giricek, who signed with Phoenix. After torching the Sonics for 22 points and 13 rebounds, Samuel Dalembert says everything is not ok in Philly. He wants more playing time.

14:

Toronto (12):

Final west coast trip of the season begins tomorrow against the Lakers and includes stops in Oakland, Denver, Sacramento and Utah.

15.

Phoenix (15):

IBig win against Spurs on Sunday validates the trade for Shaquille O'Neal. He was brought in to beat San Antonio, however, the Suns are in danger of missing the playoffs. Former Suns star Kevin Johnson running for mayor in Sacramento.

16.

Portland (17):

They believe James Jones, who returned after missing a month with a sore left knee, can help with their last-ditch playoff push.

17.

Charlotte (24):

The Bobcats tied their franchise long winning streak set in Feb. 2007 and April 2006. Set an NBA record in win vs. Toronto when they outscored the Raptors 32-0 in second-chance points, which was the largest margin in league history. Gerald Wallace (concussion) may return this week.

18.

Atlanta (20):

Picked up two wins Saturday against Miami and moved into eighth place in the playoff standings. Still, there's a power struggle brewing in the Dirty South and either GM Billy Knight or coach Mike Woodson is leaving this summer. If Woodson is out, Larry Brown is a possible replacement.

19.

Washington (16):

Reportedly one of four teams slated to play next preseason in NBA Europe Live Tour along with New Orleans, Miami and New Jersey.

20.

Chicago (22):

Tyrus Thomas suspended two games for missing practice. The Bulls longest winning streak this season is two games.

21.

New Jersey (18):

Devin Harris is thriving since the trade from Dallas. He was promoted to a starter, which moves Marcus Williams into the second unit.

22.

Milwaukee (25):

Rookie Yi Jianlian is burned out. He said: "Right now the reason I feel I'm playing not so good is that I'm tired. I've been playing since last summer, all through this season, all these games without a stop. I'm tired out."

23.

Indiana (19):

Co-owner Herb Simon promises changes in the offseason, which means president Larry Bird could be in trouble and disgruntled Jermaine O'Neal will likely be traded this summer.

24.

Sacramento (21):

Sunday's victory against the LA Lakers at Staples Center was their biggest win of the season and snapped a three-game losing streak. It was also their first win in the Pacific Division. Kevin Martin's 48-point performance on Friday was the second most in since the Kings moved to Sacramento.

25.

Minnesota (30):

They're paying Antoine Walker to stay at home and hope to move his $9.3 million contract this summer in a trade.

26.

Memphis (29):

Point guard problems have yet to be resolved. Rookie Mike Conley is starting, but Kyle Lowry is proving to be an effective scorer and Javaris Crittenton isn't bad either. Still somebody has to go in a trade this summer.

27.

LA Clippers (28):

Coach Mike Dunleavy and owner Donald Sterling spoke last week for the first time in over a month. If Dunleavy gets the ax, this is another possible destination for Larry Brown.

28.

New York (23):

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Isiah Thomas' contract extension. Knicks are 22-57 since signing their coach/GM. Last Monday's loss clinched a seventh-straight losing season. It is one shy of the franchise longest, which too place from 1959-60 to 1966-67, just when Willis Reed showed up.

29.

Sonics (27):

Mercifully this seven-game road trip is winding to a close. Their losing streak will likely end Friday at home against Minnesota.

30.

Miami (26):

Coach/GM Pat Riley is considering leaving the bench to scout draft prospects. The Heat has a 21.6 percent chance of landing the No. 1 spot in the draft and taking Kansas State's Michael Beasley.

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