By Chris Mannix
February 22, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
11 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 11
Remember when Jarrett Jack was listed among the most overpaid free-agent signees (at four years and $20 million)? Today, he looks like a bargain as a starting point guard. Jack had 18 points and 10 assists in a victory at New Jersey and followed it up a day later with 23 points and eight assists as the Raptors beat Washington for their second straight win without Chris Bosh (ankle). The Raptors are 22-11 in Jack's starts.
12 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 9
Tony Parker sat out Sunday's loss at Detroit with a strained hip and will undergo an MRI this week. The point guard scored 28 points at Indiana in the first game after the All-Star break, but in his next outing he shot 1-for-9 in a loss at Philadelphia. "In the Philly game, you could see he was hurting," coach Gregg Popovich said.
13 New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 16
Where would the Hornets be without rookie point guard Darren Collison? Chris Paul's (temporary) replacement is averaging 17.9 points and 8.2 assists as a starter, and he has scored at least 24 points in five straight games. He scored 27 points in Sunday's victory against Houston.
14 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 13
Back-to-back losses to Boston and Utah (which rallied from a 25-point deficit Sunday) won't help the Blazers' playoff push, but perhaps Brandon Roy is ready to. After totaling 13 points, four rebounds and two assists in his first two games back from a hamstring injury -- and having peers like Kevin Garnett comment that he looks hurt -- Roy scored 23 points (on 7-of-15 shooting) against the Jazz. Roy said he feels soreness but just needs to play through it.
15 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 17
Chicago Bulls (29-26)
It's official: The Vinny Del Negro Watch has been retired. The Bulls have won four in a row to climb into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, only two games behind fifth-place Toronto. They could climb even higher this week, as the schedule includes Washington and a home-and-home with the Pacers.
16 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 14
The Grizz thought they had picked up a sorely needed upgrade for their bench in guard Ronnie Brewer, only to have Brewer go down for three weeks with a partially torn hamstring in his first game in uniform. Brewer's injury puts more pressure on a bench whose leading scorer, rookie Sam Young, is averaging only 7.3 points.
17 Miami Heat
Last Week: 20
Miami Heat (29-28)
Dwyane Wade didn't get the help he would have wanted at the trade deadline; Michael Beasley is trying to show he doesn't need it. With Wade sidelined with a calf injury, Beasley scored 30 points in a double-OT victory at Memphis. But Beasley couldn't follow up that performance, mustering just 12 points (on 3-of-11 shooting) the next night in a loss to Dallas.
18 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 15
Houston has lost five of six to fall to 10th place in the West, 2½ games behind the eighth and final playoff spot. That skid includes back-to-back losses (to Indiana and New Orleans) since the arrival of shooting guard Kevin Martin, who was 3-of-16 for 14 points in his debut and 5-of-12 for 13 points in his second appearance.
19 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 18
John Salmons' arrival couldn't have come at a better time. Salmons, who scored 19 points in each of his first two games with Milwaukee, will be called upon often to help the Bucks survive a stretch of five games in seven nights to close out February. "I know it's only two games, but he's been a big help for us," Brandon Jennings told reporters after Saturday's victory against Charlotte. "He creates shots for himself and he's always doing something big for the team right now."
20 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 19
A victory against Cleveland (the Bobcats' third of the season) would usually mean a boost in the rankings. That is, if the win wasn't sandwiched between losses to New Jersey and Milwaukee. Still, it appears newly acquired forward Tyrus Thomas will be a factor down the stretch. In his first two games, Thomas had 21 points, 23 rebounds and 10 blocks in 56 minutes.
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