Updated: February 18, 2014, 7:08 PM ET

Power Rankings: OKC still on top


By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
Monday, Feb. 18

There weren't as many games as usual last week before All-Star festivities commenced, but the continuation of Indiana's recent blahs allowed the Miami Heat to move ahead of the Pacers for the first time since the preseason, while Oklahoma City maintained its hold on the top spot in ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings for the fourth successive week.

More on how this week's order was calculated -- and the once-a-season comment contributions from members of the TrueHoop Network while the committee (of one) was on the run in New Orleans -- can be found on Stein Line Live.

You're also invited, as always, to rank the teams yourself here.

Rk(LW)TeamRec
1(1)
Thunder
43-12
Russ Westbrook misses 30 games and OKC builds a four-game cushion on its closest competitor in the West. Any questions why Kevin Durant exited the All-Star break in the MVP lead? And presumably it can get only better with Westbrook returning this week. (Adam Reisinger, ESPN.com)
2(3)
Heat
37-14
Despite the "coasting" label stuck on this team, they're still the champs. We've seen new strategies and new faces in Michael Beasley and Greg Oden, but the resilience that has the Heat just two games behind Indy in the loss column looks very familiar. (David Vertsberger, HawksHoop).
3(2)
Pacers
40-12
Frank Vogel insisted during All-Star Weekend that Indy's recent underwhelming play, as well as Paul George's, was just a blip as opposed to a legit cause for concern. Focus on the Bynum Watch will resume after we see how the Pacers look post-break. (Dakota Schmidt, TrueHoop Network)
4(5)
Rockets
36-17
The Rockets, with seven wins in a row, have ignited and are ascending closer to the elite teams. James Harden and Dwight Howard are clearly jelling, which makes Howard's move to Houston look smarter by the day ... just in time for Wednesday's return to Lakerland (Eric Nielsen, Red94)
5(4)
Clippers
37-18
In the past, the Clippers always needed Chris Paul in order to win. But the arrival of Doc Rivers and a much improved Blake Griffin have changed L.A.'s culture and improved its execution. So imagine what sort of surge awaits now that a healing CP3 is back for the stretch run. (Fred Katz, ClipperBlog)
6(7)
Spurs
38-15
No. 2 in the West with a trainer's room full of injuries. Something has looked off at times with the starting unit that blew through the '12-13 postseason, but the Spurs deserve time to get healthy before being graded. Doubt 'em again at your own risk. (Matthew Tynan, 48 Minutes of Hell)
7(6)
Trail Blazers
36-17
After a remarkable and fortuitous beginning, including an 11-game winning streak, Portland is no longer a lock for a top-four seed. The Blazers would have loved the sound of No. 5 in the West back in training camp, but they raised the bar on themselves. (Andrew R Tonry, TrueHoop Network)
8(9)
Mavericks
32-22
The Mavs snuck up to sixth in the West before the break. Now for the bad news: 18 of their final 28 games come against playoff-bound or playoff-chasing squads. So pretty much every game from here has postseason weight for Dirk and Co. (Kirk Henderson, TrueHoop Network)
9(10)
Grizzlies
29-23
The Grizz already have suffered only three fewer losses than they absorbed last season, thanks to all of the injuries: Marc Gasol's knee, Quincy Pondexter's foot, Tony Allen's hand. How Gasol holds up from here either makes them a playoff sleeper ... or not. (Michael Pina, TrueHoop Network)
10(12)
Raptors
28-24
Playing too well to trade Kyle Lowry? Who wrote that script? The Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors are 21-12 since GM Masai Ujiri decided that an isolation-heavy offense centered around Rudy Gay had to be scrapped and that Gay had to be traded. (William Lou, Raptors Republic)
11(10)
Suns
30-21
The Suns are locked in a four-way battle with Dallas, Memphis and Golden State for the last playoff spots in the West ... and with Goran Dragic eager to show everyone he was the biggest All-Star snubee. Just like we all thought back on Halloween. Right? (Ryan Weisert, Valley of the Suns)
12(11)
Warriors
31-22
Victories over the Heat, Thunder, Blazers and Clips masked the fact Golden State limped into the break. But the Dubs still project to win nearly 50 games, according to Hollinger's Playoff Odds, thanks to what's left on what has been one of the tougher schedules. (J.M. Poulard, Warriors World)
13(15)
Bulls
27-25
Tom Thibodeau's coaching is the straight line through the disparate dots of this Bulls season. He's pushed his team to adopt a mindset that keeps them playing through Derrick Rose's torn meniscus and Luol Deng's exit. Bulls fans can only hope Thibs sticks around. (John Wilmes, Red94)
14(13)
Nets
24-27
Brooklyn is 14-5 in 2014, Paul Pierce is shooting 54 percent in February and Shaun Livingston has survived all those injuries to rank second on the Nets in win shares. It's almost enough to make us forget this $190 million group returns to work at 24-27. Almost. (Tom Sunnergren, Hoop76)
15(14)
Wizards
25-27
The Wiz will no longer settle for a playoff participation ribbon. They have the talent to play with any team in the East not named Indiana or Miami. With a GM and coach each in the final year of his contract, expect screws to tighten down the stretch. (Kyle Weidie, Truth About It)
16(18)
Timberwolves
25-28
Back to reality for Kevin Love. 'Sota is six games out of the West's No. 8 seed, and a 1-12 record in games decided by four points or less is mostly to blame for a team with a 10-season playoff drought. He'll probably miss New Orleans more than anyone. (William Bohl, A Wolf Among Wolves)
17(16)
Bobcats
23-30
Who thought this bunch would be buyers at the trade deadline? Expect Michael Jordan to score more offensive firepower by Thursday's buzzer to put this Al Jefferson-led squad -- and, yes, Big Al has exceeded all expectations -- to make a playoff push. (Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops)
18(19)
Pelicans
23-29
Injuries have ravaged a team that was at least competitive against the best when healthy. Jrue Holiday is on course to return to the lineup soon, but the Pels are likely relegated at this stage to playing spoiler in a tight Western Conference race. (Michael McNamara, Bourbon Street Shots)
19(17)
Hawks
25-26
In the midst of a five-game losing streak, Atlanta has quietly fallen under .500 for the first time since Dec. 2. Its weaknesses without Al Horford have become more and more apparent. And Jeff Teague is not only struggling, but now dealing with trade talk, too. (Bo Churney, HawksHoop)
20(21)
Jazz
19-33
The Jazz are 18-19 since the 1-14 start, which is at the heart of Trey Burke's case to be a factor in the rookie of the year race so widely assumed to be a Michael Carter-Williams runaway. But we have to ask: Is mediocrity now best for Utah in the long term? (Andy Larsen, Salt City Hoops)
21(24)
Pistons
22-30
The disappointing Pistons fired Mo Cheeks faster than any non-interim coach in team history. Yet they're just a half-game out of the playoffs in the Least. Let's see what happens to John Loyer if he can halt Detroit's playoff drought at four seasons. (Dan Feldman, Piston Powered)
22(28)
Cavaliers
20-33
Who are these guys? The team so recently reeling from five straight double-digit Ls and the GM's dismissal? Or the team that won four in a row before the break and got breakout games from Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and Dion Waiters? Stay tuned. (Kevin Hetrick, Cavs: The Blog)
23(20)
Knicks
20-32
Aside from Melo's 62-point game, very little has gone right. OK, let's be honest: It's been an unmitigated disaster rife with injuries, questionable lineups/rotations, offensive regression and defensive confusion. But Woody keeps clinging to his job. Somehow. (Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger)
24(23)
Nuggets
24-27
Win six in a row, lose eight straight. Win five in a row, drop six of eight. No one, not even Brian Shaw, can figure this team out. Injuries are obviously a big factor but don't totally explain the issues plaguing the Nuggets on both sides of the ball. (Jordan White, Roundball Mining Company)
25(22)
Magic
16-38
Important second-half storyline: Orlando is owed a 2014 first-rounder from the Knicks or Nuggets (least favorable of the two) via the Dwight Howard trade. If New York and Denver both miss the playoffs, that means the Magic will have two lottery picks. (Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball)
26(25)
Kings
18-35
New ownership, new management, new coaches and new players. Yet the Kings still sit at the bottom of the West. Time to figure out if the DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas trio is worth building around. Or if it's back to the drawing board. (James Ham, Cowbell Kingdom)
27(26)
Celtics
19-35
Something else to ponder amid all of the inevitable trade talk: Jared Sullinger's development. He's no longer a nice young player who loses a lot; he's a blossoming young player who might help Boston win an inconvenient number of games. (Tom Westerholm, CelticsHub)
28(27)
Lakers
18-35
Anyone remember that 13-13 start? The Lakers and their scrappy band of castoffs are tied for worst in the West. Mike D'Antoni has tried to keep this team together, but injuries have clearly taken their toll. Their focus should now shift fully to the draft. (Derek James, Hardwood Paroxysm)
29(29)
76ers
15-39
Remember the 3-0 Sixers? The team that made us question everything we knew about tanking? Philly has arguably been the league's worst team since with a minus-10.1 nightly point differential. Strap in for a lot of trade talk, then a bumpy 28-game ride to the finish line. (Eric Goldwein, Hoop76)
30(30)
Bucks
9-43
The latest Larry Sanders injury news is another blow in a season full of them. The trade deadline may provide a flicker of news and distraction ... but after that, it's going to be a very long, slow, painful march to the Bucks' date with the lottery. (Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball)

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