, Port Arthur, Texas


March 14, 2014

Spurs, Rockets top NBA power poll

PORT ARTHUR —   While the Lone Star State may have the two worst National Football League teams by this fall, the state is riding quite a Lone Star high by NBA standards.

  Determining the best pro basketball team in Texas also may be a fair gauge in learning the best NBA team of all 30 in mid-March. San Antonio is up to its old tricks while Houston is in the process of preparing for an interesting playoff run of its own. Even Dallas has been on the upswing since the all-star break.

  San Antonio has seemed to integrate player after player into Gregg Popovich's system so smoothly.

  "We're getting a rhythm," point guard Tony Parker told reporters earlier this week. "You don't want to peak too early, but we're playing good basketball. Hopefully we can keep it going and stay healthy."

  Should I bother to warn Spurs fans that these guys are getting old? Nahhhh. Let's get on with the ratings for the middle of March:

1. San Antonio -- Every time you count out these south Texans, Pop and the old guys rise up and deliver an amazing win streak, discovering new heroes.

2. Houston -- Third straight time in the top five but they were listless in Chicago after sitting in an airport for seven hours earlier this week.  

3. LA Clippers -- It's becoming more and more obvious that Doc Rivers has as much or more talent at his disposal than any team in the entire league.  

4. Miami -- At least LeBron seems quite able to breath through his nose comfortably again. But why have they lost all three meetings with Brooklyn?

5. Oklahoma City -- Boy, Russell Westbrook certainly wanted to make a statement to Patrick Beverley and it took Houston totally out of its game, too.

6. Indiana -- So far, Andrew Bynum is providing a late-season, welcome boost of energy which the Pacers are glad to have after a rough road trip.

7. Golden State -- Stephen Curry is great, no doubt about that, but he's not a physical match for Blake Griffin and the big boys down the coast.

8. Portland -- LaMarcus Aldridge bruised his back earlier this week at San Antonio. He was taken to the locker room in a wheelchair and they need him.

9. Chicago -- Bulls led wire-to-wire against the Rockets and Mike Dunleavy is showing why Houston tried recently to trade for him. The boy can play.

10. Dallas -- Dirk Nowitzki moved into sole possession of the No. 12 spot on the all-time NBA scoring list. The Mavs look as if they have some life.

11. Memphis -- Memphis coach David Joerger still would like to see his Grizzlies put together two strong halves instead of getting by with one big half.

12. Toronto -- They were 12th in mid-February, too, and they have won 15 of their last 19 at home, and Kyle Lowry has been effective at shooting threes.

13. Phoenix -- The Suns seem to be dropping in the ranks as they have depend more and more on their perimeter scoring to carry the load each night.

14. Washington -- John Wall is paying $15,000 (fine) and he needs to learn that other very qualified people are assigned to officiate the game, not him.

15. Minnesota -- Even though the T'wolves stand in 10th place for a playoff bid (5 1/2 behind No. 8 Dallas), they haven't given up on their chances yet.

16. Brooklyn -- Nets went to Miami and beat the Heat on Thursday for the third straight time. Paul Pierce and Deron Williams like to bring their daggers.

17. Charlotte -- Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and this mediocre team is positioned in the exactly perfect division to get away with being mediocre.

18. New Orleans -- Following an eight-game losing streak, the Pelicans won three in a row before getting outscored 9-0 in the final 3:22 vs Memphis.

19. Denver -- When guys like Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson have to be your team's stars, you simply are moving to the back of the bus.

20. Atlanta -- What a terrific motivation the No. 8 playoff spot provides the Hawks as their season reaches the verge of basically slipping away.

21. New York -- The injured and erratic Knicks are 3 or 4 behind the Hawks for that No. 8 spot and as Yogi Berra once said, 'it's getting late early'.

22. Sacramento -- Good luck to the Kings as they experiment with Rockets former first-round draft selection Royce White and his unique tendencies.

23. Cleveland -- Cavs snapped a four-game losing streak in mid-week with a win at slumping Phoenix but they long for another piece of good lottery luck.

24. Detroit -- Detroit basketball fans appear to be getting ready to lower the boom on Pistons GM and former McNeese State hoops star Joe Dumars.

25. LA Lakers -- This Hollywood nightmare may seem even more humiliating as the Knicks go ahead and place Phil Jackson in charge of basketball operations.

26. Utah -- Rookie guard and former Michigan sharpshooter Trey Burke is the lone shining light in this dismal conclusion to a lengthy Jazz campaign.

27. Boston -- With Danny Ainge as GM and Brad Stevens as coach, the Celtics' leadership never has been so ridiculously crummy in more than 50 years.

28. Orlando -- The exact same things can be written about the Orlando franchise as the Boston franchise except it hasn't been around nearly as long.

29. Milwaukee -- Bucks play at Madison Square Garden tonight and the Knicks need more cupcake games such as this one in order to catch Atlanta for No. 8.

30. Philadelphia -- A club-record 18-game losing streak only hints of the amount of depression which the Sixers players feel as these games wind down.


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