By Chris Mannix
February 01, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
11 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 8
Andre Miller did what? After scoring a combined 15 points in his previous three games, the Blazers' maligned point guard poured in 52 in a win over the Mavericks. Portland needed it, too: Miller's show saved it from a four-loss week.
12 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 11
The upstart Grizzlies are still susceptible to young mistakes. Like failing to close out games. The 21-point lead they gave up in a loss to New Orleans marked the 10th time this season they have lost a game after leading by double figures. On the flip side, the Grizz have also climbed out of a double-digit hole seven times.
13 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 16
Toronto has won five straight, thanks in part to a deep bench (Amir Johnson, Antoine Wright, Marco Belinelli) that has proved it can step up when a starter is injured or faltering. "I think that was going to be one of the keys to our success this year, how our bench was going to play," Chris Bosh said. "And so far we've played pretty well."
14 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 14
Phoenix Suns (28-21)
A divorce for the Suns and Amar'e Stoudemire seems all but certain. He was benched in favor of Louis Amundson for most of the fourth quarter of a win against Dallas, and Stoudemire admitted the swirling trade rumors have affected his play. "I feel like the confidence in me is not quite there with them for them to want to shop me around so much," he said."
15 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 17
Their 3-1 week was overshadowed by the news that Chris Paul is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Having a fill-in like rookie Darren Collison, however, should ease the loss. Collison torched Memphis for 17 points and 18 assists in the first game since Paul went down, and he is averaging 15.1 points and 7.7 assists in nine starts this season.
16 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 18
The Bobcats really ramped up their offense in January. In the 16 games since Jan. 1, the Bobcats are averaging 102.3 points, up from 91.7 points in their first 30 games. Charlotte has scored at least 100 points in nine of the 16 games, compared to just eight times in those first 30.
17 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 20
Chicago Bulls (23-22)
Vinny Del Negro Watch, Week 9: It might be time to retire The Watch. A five-game road winning streak -- including victories over Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City -- probably secured Del Negro's job for the rest of the season. That's good, considering the Bulls' roster may get a little weaker: Chicago is reportedly shopping John Salmons and may be willing to part with popular guard Kirk Hinrich.
18 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 13
More tweets from optimistic GM Daryl Morey (@dmorey), who said this after the Rockets' overtime loss to Phoenix last week: "No good Ls but lots to build on. The guys played hard. Got good looks we just missed from field and [free throw] line. More [transition] pts, 58-57, [than Phoenix]. Won rebound and turnover battle."
19 Miami Heat
Last Week: 15
Miami Heat (24-23)
Mario Chalmers isn't happy with his role backing up Rafer Alston. Coach Erik Spoelstra isn't happy Chalmers won't shut up and do something about it. "Mario has not played well, up to his standards, the last couple of games," Spoelstra said. "I know he can play much better. Mario knows he can play much better. He's working extremely hard on that. I'll continue to reevaluate the rotation."
20 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 21
Andrew Bogut is posting All-Star numbers (15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds), and the Bucks are disappointed he didn't make the team for the first time. Said Jerry Stackhouse: "Bogut, why isn't he on the All-Star team? A guy averaging numbers like that, a double-double, for a team on the cusp [of a playoff berth]?" Added coach Scott Skiles: "Why isn't he on the All-Star team? It's hard to find a center who will take a charge and still will step up and block shots, and he'll do one or the other.'"
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