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76ers dodge history, streaking Spurs approach it

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Philadelphia snapped a 26-game skid, which spanned more than two months, by beating Detroit.

Basketball in March tends to be as meaningless in the NBA as it is meaningful in the NCAA, but there are a few important takeaways to note as the month comes to a close.

The Spurs reasserted their dominance, tying their longest winning streak in franchise history, posting the league's best offensive rating (112.6) and defensive rating (97.1) in the month and totaling more victories (15) than the Bucks have all season (14). Meanwhile, the Heat and Pacers showed plenty of vulnerability, both losing more games in March than in February and January combined. And the Clippers, Rockets, Warriors and others reminded us that the Western Conference playoffs will have no easy outs.

Best of all, the month ends with the 76ers dodging infamy and rattling off their first one-game winning streak in two months. That's enough to move them back to No. 30 in our rankings, ending their two-week exile at No. 31.

Here's where all 30 teams stand in the SI.com Power Rankings.

(All records and statistics are through March 30.)

SI Now: Winning streak keeps San Antonio on top
On Monday's SI Now, NBA producer Matt Dollinger discusses the Spurs big-time winning streak, the Sixers snapping their losing streak, the race for both first and eighth in the East and the dangerous Pelicans in the latest NBA power rankings.
NBA Power Rankings
 
1 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 1
Since: 4-0
The Spurs face long odds to survive this week with their winning streak -- now at a franchise-record-tying 17 games -- intact. Not only does San Antonio face Indiana, Golden State, Oklahoma City and Memphis, but it also plays a nationally televised road game on the back end of a back-to-back, which Gregg Popovich has been known to treat as a regular-season rest stop.
 
2 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 2
Since: 3-1
The league's third-most-valuable player? Chris Paul has scored 30 points in back-to-back games -- a nice rebound from a franchise-worst 0-for-12 in a loss to New Orleans -- is leading the league in assists and steals and has helped the Clippers win 15 of their last 17 games.
 
3 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 3
Since: 3-1
The Thunder have leaned heavily on their two oldest players, Derek Fisher, 39, and Caron Butler, 34, of late. Both are playoff-tested and shooting almost 40 percent from three-point range, making them more attractive options these days than second-year guard Jeremy Lamb, who has played sparingly in non-blowouts since Butler's arrival.
 
4 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 4
Since: 2-1
The Rockets' chances of crashing the conference finals hinges on the health of point guard Patrick Beverley, who is hoping to avoid surgery for torn meniscus in his right knee. Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Canaan give Houston plenty offensively at the point, but Beverley is far and away the team's best perimeter defender and a necessary piece when trying to conquer the West's elite.
 
5 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 7
Since: 1-3
The Pacers will give the Heat all they can handle in a seven-game series ... if they can get there. Indiana has lost four of five and nine of 15, mainly because its offense has been reduced to rubble. The Pacers are averaging only 85.5 points per 100 possessions in their last five games.
 
6 Miami Heat
Last Week: 5
Since: 3-1
Miami Heat (50-22)
Miami trails Indiana by one game for the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the teams are tied in the loss column. The Heat play seven of their final 10 games at home, including a visit from the Pacers on April 11.
 
7 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 8
Since: 1-1
The Warriors are in a precarious place: While they're only two games behind the fifth-seeded Blazers, they're also just two games ahead of ninth-place Memphis. The big priority for Golden State is to get starting big men David Lee and Andrew Bogut healthy. With both sidelined Sunday, the Warriors managed only 84 points in a home loss to the Knicks.
 
8 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 6
Since: 2-2
The eighth-best team in my Power Rankings is a half-game out of the playoffs and faces a difficult task to make up ground. Five of the Grizzlies' final eight games are on the road, where they lost important games to Golden State and Portland last week.
 
9 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 13
Since: 3-1
Phoenix Suns (44-30)
I'm not willing to go as far as Metta World Peace and place Gerald Green in the discussion of top-20 players, but he deserves credit for more than doubling his scoring average (7.0 to 15.5) and dramatically raising his Player Efficiency Rating (9.9 to 15.9). The ball is in your court, Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney.
 
10 Brooklyn Nets
Last Week: 9
Since: 2-2
Maybe you would have believed me in October if I told you that the Nets would tie their franchise record for consecutive home wins (13) this season. But probably not if I told you that rookie center Mason Plumlee and well-traveled guard Shaun Livingston would be starters and Brooklyn's three best big men -- Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko -- were in street clothes.
 
11 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 12
Since: 3-2
With LaMarcus Aldridge back in the lineup, the Blazers stopped the bleeding with three consecutive victories over playoff teams (are we still counting Atlanta?). Most impressive was Sunday's win over the Grizzlies, who beat Portland by double digits in their two previous meetings.
 
12 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 10
Since: 2-1
D.J. Augustin has done wonders for the Bulls -- and his once-failing NBA career -- since signing in December after being released by Toronto. The point guard has injected life into Chicago's stagnant offense, averaging 14.5 points and hitting 41.4 percent from three-point range. On Sunday, he dropped a career-high 33 in a win over Boston.
 
13 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 14
Since: 3-1
The Raptors are going to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, thanks in part to the emergence and realized potential of All-Star swingman DeMar DeRozan, who is averaging career highs in points (22.8), rebounds (4.4) and assists (3.9).
 
14 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 11
Since: 2-1
The Mavericks have eight games remaining, including clashes with the Warriors and Clippers this week and season-ending meetings with the Suns and Grizzlies, the two teams jockeying with them for playoff position. Dallas is a combined 4-1 against Phoenix and Memphis.
 
15 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 19
Since: 2-1
The starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal will be new to the playoffs, but the Wizards have a trio of bench veterans -- Andre Miller, Al Harrington and Drew Gooden -- who will provide valuable leadership in the postseason. Washington, like Toronto, is set for its first playoff appearance since 2008. Those teams are on track to meet in the first round.
 
16 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 16
Since: 1-2
Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker have scored 20 or more points in the same game only 16 times this season. When the Bobcats' two leading scorers pull off the feat, though, Charlotte is 12-4. Jefferson is averaging 24.8 points (on 53.9 percent shooting) in 20 games since the All-Star break.
 
17 New Orleans Pelicans
Last Week: 21
Since: 3-1
Anthony Davis is too good for his own good, if that makes any sense. The Pelicans star's recent dominance has led to five victories in six games, including wins over the Heat and Clippers. That success isn't helping the Pelicans increase their odds of keeping their first-round pick, which goes to Philadelphia unless it's outside the top five, and putting another highly touted prospect next to Davis.
 
18 New York Knicks
Last Week: 15
Since: 2-2
In case you were wondering what we're going to talk about for the next two weeks, the Knicks are only one game out of the playoffs after Sunday's victory at Golden State. Mercy.
 
19 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 20
Since: 2-2
Get ready for a summer of Kevin Love rumors. Minnesota is set to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in six years with the All-Star power forward, who can opt out of his contract after next season.
 
20 Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 17
Since: 0-3
The Nuggets have a lineup of injured players -- JaVale McGee, J.J. Hickson, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Nate Robinson -- that would be the foundation of an Eastern Conference playoff team if healthy.
 
21 Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: 22
Since: 3-1
What if I were to tell you that the Cavaliers are only 2½ games out of the playoffs with seven games to go? And that only one of those remaining opponents is above .500 (Brooklyn, in the season finale)? And that the eight-seeded Hawks can't stop losing and the ninth-place Knicks face a difficult schedule? Somehow, someway, this team is still in the playoff race, but its deficit is four in the loss column.
 
22 Atlanta Hawks
Last Week: 18
Since: 0-4
The Hawks, who have lost six consecutive games, are doing their best to give the Knicks and even the Cavaliers a shot at making the playoffs. With 10 remaining and just a one-game lead, the season might be too long for Atlanta to reach the playoffs for the seventh year in a row.
 
23 Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 27
Since: 2-2
After giving up 143 points to the Wolves, the most in the NBA this season, the Lakers bounced back with a nice win over the playoff-contending Suns. Said point guard Kendall Marshall: "We're trying to be the player-haters of the year." Somewhere, Kobe Bryant is rolling over in his hyperbaric chamber.
 
24 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 23
Since: 1-3
Losing by 25 to a team on a record-tying 26-game losing streak probably constitutes the worst loss of the year, right?
 
25 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 24
Since: 0-3
The Kings are down to one point guard, leading rookie Ray McCallum to play at least 40 minutes in the last three games, including all 48 in Saturday's loss to Dallas. The second-round pick has showed some promise, but he is hitting just 33.1 percent of his jumpers this season.
 
26 Orlando Magic
Last Week: 28
Since: 2-1
Long out of the postseason hunt, the Magic will relish the role of playoff spoiler the rest of the season. A high-energy, easy-to-overlook squad, Orlando defeated Portland and Charlotte last week.
 
27 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 25
Since: 0-4
Utah Jazz (23-51)
The Jazz's biggest decision this offseason will center on Gordon Hayward. The restricted free agent is bound to have plenty of suitors, but will Utah's motivation to match an outside offer be as great after watching the swingman shoot career lows of 41.5 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range this season?
 
28 Boston Celtics
Last Week: 26
Since: 0-3
The Celtics have lost four straight games and nine of 10. But, hey, at least Vince Wilfork is staying in New England.
 
29 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 29
Since: 1-2
The Bucks not only have a worse record than the (red-hot) 76ers, but Philadelphia also scored more points in the first half against Detroit (70) on Saturday than Milwaukee did in four quarters (67) in its loss to Miami.
 
30 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 31
Since: 1-2
 

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