By Chris Mannix
March 08, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
11 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 12
Tony Parker's hand injury is expected to sideline him for at least the rest of the regular season. Which means George Hill needs to step up. Hill has been an effective scorer (16.0 points in 26 starts) but his passing needs work. The second-year player is averaging 2.5 assists (in 28.1 minutes) for the season, tied for 51st among NBA guards.
12 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 11
How far Portland goes this season will have a lot to do with the play of Nicolas Batum. The wiry small forward scored a combined 52 points in back-to-back wins over Minnesota and Memphis but disappeared in a win over Indiana (five points) and a loss to Denver (four), shooting 4-of-15 from the field in the latter two performances.
13 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 13
The John Salmons trade has worked out pretty well, hasn't it? The Bucks are 9-1 since acquiring Salmons, who has led or tied for the team lead in scoring in six of the 10 games (he is averaging 19.2 points with Milwaukee). Known for his shooting, Salmons has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 55 times during this stretch, knocking down 48 of his attempts.
14 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 15
Owner Michael Heisley told the Commercial Appeal that the team won't be moving, even if he sells it. Maybe it should. Memphis is 0-6 at home since the All-Star break and has dropped eight straight at home overall. The good news? It has won six straight on the road since the break.
15 Miami Heat
Last Week: 20
Miami Heat (32-31)
Point guards continue to plague Miami. Carlos Arroyo was solid (17 points, five assists) in an OT victory against the Lakers in his first game replacing the suspended Rafer Alston in the starting lineup. But he followed it up with a two-point, three-assist, 41-minute effort against the Hawks. "It's not your traditional point guard position," coach Erik Spoelstra told Heat reporters. "A lot of the ball-handling duties are given to Dwyane [Wade]. And, at times, we're very efficient and effective when Dwyane's at the top making plays for a lot of the guys."
16 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 18
It's a must-win week. After blowing chances for victories against bottom-feeders Sacramento and Detroit last week -- and falling 4½ games out of the final playoff spot -- the Rockets need to build some momentum against the Wizards and Nets this week. Why? Because five of their next six games after that are against playoff contenders.
17 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 17
Chris Bosh is back, but the Raptors have lost five of six and begin a four-game West Coast trip Tuesday against the Lakers. Toronto gave up 114 points in a home loss to the 76ers on Saturday, and it is allowing an East-high 105.4 points while ranking last in the league in defensive efficiency (112.3 points per 100 possessions).
18 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 19
After Gerald Wallace called out the Bobcats for a lack of teamwork, Charlotte responded with back-to-back home victories over the Lakers and Warriors. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin had 12 points and five assists against L.A. and 19 points against Golden State.
19 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 14
Chicago Bulls (30-31)
No Joakim Noah, who is out for the next three weeks with a foot injury. An inconsistent Luol Deng. A four-game losing streak and the next six games against playoff contenders, including three division leaders. It's official: The Vinny Del Negro Watch is back.
20 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 16
James Posey is playing his way right out of the rotation. Posey hasn't scored in double figures since Feb. 8 and he has cracked 50 percent shooting once since Jan. 20. He is hitting 35.8 percent for the season, including 31.9 percent from three-point range. "When you are a player that has demonstrated the ability to make that shot, then the only way you can improve your percentages is continue to take those shots," coach Jeff Bower told the Times-Picayune. "That's the only way he can break out of it."
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