Top spot challenged
Lakers, Spurs both make bids for No. 1
By: Corby Yarbrough | 3/8/11, 7:25 PM EST
The Spurs hold on to their No. 1 ranking for the eighth week in a row, but this is as close as they have come to losing that top ranking since they were the No. 2 team in Week 12.
As a matter of fact, the top five is about as close as it's been all season.
San Antonio fell to the Lakers 99-83 on Sunday — two days after blowing out Miami by 30. For the Lakers, it was their seventh straight victory to end a week that propelled them from sixth to second in the Week 20 poll.
But the nod goes to San Antonio to stay on top as it is 2-1 against the Lakers this year and has a 6.5-game edge over them in the Western Conference race.
The Spurs get a three-game stretch against current non-playoff teams in Detroit, Sacramento and Houston before closing out against a team that seems like its trying to get out of the playoffs in the Miami Heat — losers of its last four and five of last six.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have won seven games since the All-Star break after having lost three in a row coming into the break. Four of the seven wins came against current playoff teams, and Los Angeles will take on four straight playoff-bound teams over the next week. This current four-game road trip that began with San Antonio continues with Atlanta, Miami and Dallas and the Lakers return home to take on Orlando on March 14. That game begins a seven-game homestand against four current playoff teams.
Dallas fell one spot to No 3, Boston remained at No. 4 and Chicago fell from 3 to 5.
The Mavericks saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end thanks to Memphis, but picked back up with a road win at Minnesota. Dallas gets New Orleans, New York, the Lakers and Portland over the next week.
Boston is riding a five-game winning streak — all against non-playoff teams — and gets three of its next four games against non-playoff teams — save for Philadelphia.
Chicago blew an early 19-point lead in Atlanta en route to a loss, but finished its five-game road trip 4-1 with wins over Orlando and Miami (having already defeated Milwaukee and Washington to begin the trip) and then returned home to defeat New Orleans Monday night. Charlotte, Atlanta and Utah are on deck over the next week for the Bulls.
Orlando, Oklahoma City, Miami, Memphis and Denver round out the top 10 — a top 10 that had the exact same teams last week just in a different configuration. This is the first time all season the same 10 teams have made up the top 10 two weeks in a row.
Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings Week 20
1. San Antonio
2. L.A. Lakers
7. Oklahoma City
14. New Orleans
16. New York
20. Golden State
22. L.A. Clippers
24. New Jersey
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
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