By Chris Mannix
April 05, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
11 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 12
The last thing the Spurs wanted to see after Sunday's statement win over the Lakers was Hill on crutches. The injury to the high-scoring Hill, who is averaging 15.8 points as a starter, coupled with the still-injured Parker, leaves San Antonio without a viable option at point guard.
12 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 10
J.J. Barea will be a big part of Dallas' push for the No. 2 seed, especially if Jason Terry continues to struggle. The diminutive Barea scored 26 points combined in back-to-back games against Orlando and Oklahoma City, compensating for Terry, who shot 8-of-26 in those same games.
13 Miami Heat
Last Week: 14
Miami Heat (43-34)
Suddenly, the Heat are looking like a formidable playoff opponent. Miami has won eight straight and 14 of 17 to seize the No. 5 spot in the East. "When you're playing good basketball, good on both ends of the floor, we can play with anybody," Dwyane Wade told the Miami Herald. "As long as we have that mind-set that we're going to do this, that it's not about self, it's about together, it's about team, we'll be fine no matter who we play."
14 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 13
The season-ending injury to Andrew Bogut means Milwaukee needs big production from Kurt Thomas and Ilyasova up front. Thomas, 37, who has thrived in a backup role, will get first crack at Bogut's starting spot. And Ilyasova, Milwaukee's second-leading rebounder (6.4), will likely slide over when the Bucks play small.
15 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 15
Theo Ratliff's numbers (5.4 points, 4.3 rebounds with Charlotte) don't jump off the page, but few Bobcats have been more valuable. The All-Star turned journeyman still looks sharp in a starting role, backstopping the NBA's best scoring defense.
16 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 19
Sunday's home loss to the Warriors left the Raptors only one game ahead of Chicago for the No. 8 spot in the East. Toronto plays host to to Chicago on Sunday, but first the Raptors must face Cleveland and Atlanta on the road and Boston at home.
17 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 17
The Rockets have a keeper in Chase Budinger. The second-round pick's playing time has spiked with the Rockets' recent injury woes, and he has delivered: Over the last six games, Budinger is averaging 16.2 points -- including 24 in a win at Boston -- raising his scoring to 8.8 points for the season.
18 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 18
Chicago Bulls (37-39)
If the season were a month longer, Taj Gibson might be in the Rookie of the Year discussion. Gibson is averaging 13.6 points and 11.8 rebounds over the last nine games, cementing his status as the Bulls' starting power forward. "[Taj] makes mistakes like everybody, but he plays so hard," coach Vinny Del Negro told Bulls reporters. "If he has a fault, it's that he helps too much defensively, which is a very, very rare thing."
19 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 16
Here's something a little surprising: The Grizzlies still haven't agreed to a contract extension with Lionel Hollins. The Coach of the Year candidate has the Grizzlies on track for their first winning season in four years but has yet to reach a deal despite months of negotiations.
20 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 20
Remember Robert Pack? The 13-year NBA vet turned first-year assistant coach? The Hornets have gotten huge efforts from rookies Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton, thanks in part to the work of Pack, who has focused on developing the young backcourt. Said Thornton: "I would say if it weren't for Coach Pack, I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in now."
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