PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

February 28, 2014

LeBron, Miami No. 1 in NBA Power Poll

Tom Halliburton
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Would you rather have LeBron James or Kevin Durant? That’s the question asked over and over during all-star weekend in New Orleans.

   LeBron proved in the last couple of weeks that he still had good ears. The guy’s body has hardly crumbled or deteriorated any either.

   LBJ and his Miami Heat associates made certain to deliver that message to Durant and Oklahoma City’s players and fans shortly after the break.

   To make matters worse for the Thunder, Kendrick Perkins sustained a groin injury. LeBron’s broken nose and head-first landing in OKC apparently produced less long-term damage than it first appeared for national television viewers.

   That means the NBA ruling class figures to relinquish its royalties quite grudgingly if at all.

 Here are the March 1 power rankings:

 1. Miami — To quote a friend and a famous old NBA coach named Rudy T, “Never under-estimate the heart of a champion.”

 2. Indiana — With the trade for Evan Turner with Philadelphia, these Pacers simply are better than ever and able to dethrone Miami.

 3. Oklahoma City — This next six weeks truly will analyze the value or lack of same that Beaumont’s Perkins provides for this squad.

 4. LA Clippers — Pound for pound, inch for inch, this group is blessed with enormous talent and Doc Rivers is one terrific coach.

 5. Houston — Only time will tell about Daryl Morey’s Aaron Brooks for Jordan Hamilton deal. Right now, it’s too early to really know.

 6. San Antonio — Unless the Hamilton deal works for Houston, the Spurs quickly will return to their spot as the best team in Texas.

 7. Portland — Portland won its fourth straight game without LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s been out five games with a left groin sprain.

 8. Dallas — Dirk, Monta Ellis and the guys seem to have played their most impressive basketball just since the all-star break.

 9. Phoenix — When coach of the year is being considered, former Utah guard Jeff Hornacek definitely belongs in the discussion.

 10. Golden State — The West needs to learn the Bulls secret on how they managed to hold Stephen Curry to 5 points the other night.

 11. Memphis — Winners of 5 of their last 6 (going into Friday’s Oklahoma City game), the Grizzlies may be on their way to the Top 10.

 12. Toronto — Coach Dwane Casey has the Toronto Raptors in solid position to make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

 13. Chicago — A suddenly potent offensive stretch has enabled the Bulls to stampede to five games above the .500 mark.

 14. Brooklyn — Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko are missing recent games due to injuries. That’s the last thing they need.

 15. Washington — Nene’ has been a most reliable element of the Wizards recent upsurge. He’s out approximately six weeks with a knee sprain.

 16. Charlotte — It’s really hard to imagine Charlotte’s degree of prosperity being able to last during the final two months of the season.

 17. Minnesota — Even Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman -- who has seen it all -- is amazed by Kevin Love’s recent performances.

 18. Atlanta — General manager Danny Ferry is struggling to stock the Hawks with enough talent to be able to make a strong stretch run.

 19. New Orleans — Leading scorer and rebounded Anthony Davis was nursing a shoulder sprain after the Pelicans lost at Dallas.

 20. Cleveland — Kyrie Irving and Trey Burke received a huge confidence boost the other night when the Cavs pulled off a win at OKC.

 21. Detroit — Hey if talented lefty Josh Smith would rather spend his winters in Detroit than Houston, Dallas or Atlanta, that’s up to him.

 22. Denver — Ty Lawson has missed 7 games with a left rib fracture, Darrell Arthur has a left hip strain and Nate Robinson has a torn ACL.

 23. Sacramento — Demarcus Cousins undoubtedly belongs among the league’s physically most talented players from the neck down.

 24. New York — Mike Woodson’s future as NY’s coach now looks to be in jeopardy after star guard Raymond Felton faces gun charges.

 25. Utah — With no-names Alec Burks, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, this group is making some solid progress but it has a long way to go.

 26. Orlando — The Magic's young general manager has nearly flipped Orlando's roster in less than two years. The jury is still out on the revamp.

 27. LA Lakers — Maybe the Lakers were in last place once before, I just don’t remember but what a mess Hollywood’s heroes are becoming.

 28. Boston — Floundering Celtics are back home from an 0-4 western swing and coach Brad Stevens can find only nine healthy bodies.

 29. Milwaukee — For a 5-23 road team, it was real special for the Bucks players to score 130 the other night in a win at Philadelphia.

 30. Philadelphia — It’s just off the charts to think this once-proud franchise has disintegrated to the woeful level that it once was.