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NBA Power Rankings: Heat get back into top 3 as All-Star break nears

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

Oklahoma City
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-12; last week's ranking: 1): West All-Star coach Scott Brooks must choose a player to replace the injured Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup. Likely choice: James Harden.

2. Indiana Pacers (39-11; last week's ranking: 2): New center Andrew Bynum is expected to debut after the All-Star break, a source said.

3. Miami Heat (35-14; last week's ranking: 5): Poor Heat vendors. A team-record 19 days will pass between Miami's last home game against Detroit and the next one against Chicago on Feb. 23.

Los Angeles
4. Los Angeles Clippers (36-18; last week's ranking: 4): As of late, Blake Griffin is playing the best ball of his career. An improved Griffin with a returned Chris Paul makes the Clippers scary post-All-Star break.

San Antonio
5. San Antonio Spurs (37-14; last week's ranking: 6): All-Star break comes just in time for the injury-plagued Spurs to heal. Starters Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili are still out.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (36-15; last week's ranking: 3): Prior to taking part in five All-Star events, first-time All-Star Damian Lillard has to face the Thunder on Tuesday and the Clippers on Wednesday.

7. Houston Rockets (34-17; last week's ranking: 7): The Rockets can set a season-high six-game win streak by beating Minnesota on Monday. Houston is averaging 108.6 points the past five games.

8. Phoenix Suns (30-20; last week's ranking: 8): Are the Suns elite? Goran Dragic and the Suns have a chance for a statement win when the Heat come to Phoenix on Tuesday.

Golden State
9. Golden State Warriors (30-21; last week's ranking: 9): Keep an eye on nervous Golden State as the trade deadline arrives. They're 10-8 since the start of 2014.

10. Dallas Mavericks (31-21; last week's ranking: 11): Dirk Nowitzi's 38-point, 17-rebound game against Houston on Jan. 29 was his first 30-point, 10-rebound game of the season and 108th of career.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (27-23; last week's ranking: 10): Ex-Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has interest in the Pistons' new opening, but Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Detroit's full-time hire will come at season's end.

12. Toronto Raptors (26-24; last week's ranking: 13): The Raptors play eight of their next 10 at home. Toronto, who hosts New Orleans on Monday, is 7-2 at home this year.

13. Atlanta Hawks (25-25; last week's ranking: 12): Although Toronto's DeMar DeRozan is rarely shown on TV in the States, the least-heralded All-Star on Sunday is likely Atlanta's Paul Millsap.

14. Chicago Bulls (25-25; last week's ranking: 15): Don't be surprised if Derrick Rose next plays again in USA Basketball's training camp for the World Cup this summer.

15. Washington Wizards (25-25; last week's ranking: 16): Washington will try to acquire a backup point guard before the trade deadline, a source said, but isn't optimistic the Wizards can make such a move.

16. Denver Nuggets (24-25; last week's ranking: 17): The Nuggets will be one of the teams to watch as the trade deadline approaches with veteran point guard Andre Miller still waiting to be dealt.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-27; last week's ranking: 14): While the Wolves' brass is doing their due diligence, they are more worried about improving the defense than making a trade deadline move.

18. Brooklyn Nets (23-26; last week's ranking: 18): Coach Jason Kidd can rest easy during All-Star weekend after recovering from a bad start to earn East Coach of the Month honors for January.

New Orleans
19. New Orleans Pelicans (22-28; last week's ranking: 19): D-League leading scorer Pierre Jackson, rights owned by the Pelicans, will play in the D-League All-Star Game in New Orleans on Saturday.

20. Detroit Pistons (21-29; last week's ranking: 22): Interim coach John Loyer has never been a head coach before, but has been an assistant with Detroit, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

21. Charlotte Bobcats (22-29; last week's ranking: 20): Charlotte is actively pursuing a deal for needed perimeter shooting, a source said.

New York
22. New York Knicks (20-31; last week's ranking: 21): There is "no chance" the Knicks will deal Carmelo Anthony, who owns a contract opt-out this summer, before the trade deadline, a source said.

Los Angeles
23. Los Angeles Lakers (18-33; last week's ranking: 23): Steve Nash says the nerve irritation he suffered in his left leg against Chicago on Sunday isn't serious.

24. Sacramento Kings (17-34; last week's ranking: 25): The Kings still like Isaiah Thomas, but they are also interested in acquiring a true point guard as the trade deadline approaches, a source said.

25. Utah Jazz (17-33; last week's ranking: 24): Michael Carter-Williams has competition. Utah's Trey Burke is the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for December and January.

26. Boston Celtics (18-34; last week's ranking: 28): Recently returned Rajon Rondo will get seven days between games to rest his surgically repaired knee during the All-Star break.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (18-33; last week's ranking: 26): Interim general manager David Griffin said he has "full latitude" to do the job and he is not a secretary taking calls.

28. Philadelphia 76ers (15-37, last week's ranking: 27): Michael Carter-Williams is one of the top rookies to watch in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night during All-Star weekend.

29. Orlando Magic (16-37; last week's ranking: 29): Outside of talented rookie guard Victor Oladipo, sources say the Magic are open to talking trade but have nothing imminent.

30. Milwaukee Bucks (9-41; last week's ranking: 30): Center Zaza Pachulia is shooting 93.7 percent from the free-throw line and is 14 free throws shy of qualifying to have an NBA-best mark.

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