NBA Power Rankings: Spurs still atop rankings, Knicks making a push

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Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

10. Toronto Raptors (9, -1): The Raps have been scuffling of late, losing three of their last four, and it won’t get any easier, as they play four of their next five on the road.  Their Atlantic Division lead over the Nets has dwindled to a game-and-a-half.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (12, +1): Marc Gasol suffered a grade 1 left ankle sprain in the Grizzlies’ loss to the Heat on Friday night.  Memphis currently has a half-game lead over Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the West, and a sidelined Gasol would spell doom for them.  The Grizz have gone 22-9 since Gasol returned from an MCL sprain back on Jan. 14.

12. Brooklyn Nets (17, +5): Winners of 10 of their last 12 games, the Nets finally seem to be putting it together.  After a disappointed 12.7-point scoring average in Feb., Joe Johnson is scoring 17.3 points on 50.0 percent shooting in March.

13. Chicago Bulls (11, -2): After a red-hot February, the Bulls have been a little hit-or-miss this month (6-5).  The defense is still solid though, as they are allowing just 92.1 ppg in the month, which is second to only Memphis’ 91.7 average.

14. Phoenix Suns (10, -4): Whether they make the playoffs or not, the Suns have been arguably the best story of the year.  They currently sit a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the West, but are 4-2 since Eric Bledsoe returned.  Could they make a final push?

15. Washington Wizards (14, -1): It’s too bad guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James are just so damn good.  John Wall is having an MVP-like season, but he’ll go home without any brass.  The fourth-year guard is averaging 19.4 points, 10.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 2.3 3-pointers in 11 March games.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (15, -1): The Wolves have been bit by the injury bug all season, which makes one wonder how well they could’ve done if they had remained healthy.  Nikola Pekovic is hurt yet again, but it’s allowed us to see rookie Gorgui Dieng in action.  The 21st overall pick in the 2013 Draft has averaged 14.6 points, 14.3 boards, and 2.0 blocks in three fill-in starts for Pek.

17. New York Knicks (20, +3): Maybe Phil Jackson really does know what he’s getting into.  The Knicks have had quite a remarkable couple of months.  From Feb.1-March 3, the Knicks lost 13 of 15 games, but since then they have reeled off eight straight wins.  Unfortunately, it may be a little too late, as they still three games back of the eighth seed in the East.

18. Charlotte Bobcats (16, -2): If they win nine of their final 13 games, the Bobcats would finish with just their second winning season in team history.  The ‘Cats won 44 games in 2009-10 — the franchises only trip to the postseason.

19. Atlanta Hawks (22, +3): After losing 14 of 15 games, the Hawks have righted the ship a bit, winning five of their last six.  The Hawks aren’t a good team, yet they still sit in eighth in the East, which shows how poor the conference really is.

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