Monday, March 2, 2015

2014-15 NBA Power Rankings Week 18

King James. That was the headline.

Not in reference to LeBron James, but by the Houston Rockets twitter account in reference to James Harden.


A kick below the belt?

Wait, that happened too.

The Cavs were without point guard Kyrie Irving (and the Rockets, of course, were still without Dwight Howard), but the battle between the Cavs and Rockets and Harden and LeBron went into overtime.

LeBron put together a strong line overall with 37 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks, but he was awful from the free-throw line. Making only three of his 11 free throws, it was the first time in his career that he shot at least 10 free throws and made three or less.

Meanwhile, Harden (or should I say, King James?) posted a nearly identical line by scoring 33 points (including 15-of-18 free throws) and adding eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks.

With the win over the Cavs, the Rockets are tied with the Pelicans for the league's longest active winning streak of five games.

Houston will open this week with a tough back-to-back on Tuesday (at Atlanta, 47-12) and Wednesday (vs. Memphis, 42-16). Only three teams have a better winning percentage than the Rockets (.695) and the Hawks and Grizzlies are two of those teams.

Jimmy Butler latest Bull to miss multiple weeks

Since his MVP-winning 2010-11 season, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has played a total of 95 games over the past three-and-a-half seasons.

Unfortunately, there's a chance that Rose, who had surgery on his meniscus last week, won't play any more regular-season games this season.

With a timetable of four to six weeks, however, he is expected to return at some point and he's already rehabbing his knee. If he doesn't play during the rest of the regular season, D-Rose should return at some point during the playoffs.

Making matters worse for the Bulls, they will be without Jimmy Butler as well.

Butler is expected to miss the next three to four weeks with an elbow sprain, but it looks as though he will avoid surgery.

Butler and Rose are the team's top-two scorers -- 20.2 and 18.4 points per game, respectively -- and no player has averaged more minutes per game than Butler (38.9/G), who is also one of the league's best perimeter defenders.

In addition to the loss of Butler and Rose, the Bulls are expected to be without Taj Gibson for another week. Gibson is averaging a career-high 13.0 points in 28.7 minutes per game as well as 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Russell Westbrook: Three consecutive triple-doubles

Already without Kevin Durant (foot), the Thunder were without point guard Russell Westbrook on Sunday after having facial surgery.

That said, it doesn't look as though he'll miss much more time.

Before missing Sunday's game, Westbrook had three consecutive triple-doubles. During that three-game span, Westbrook averaged 33.0 points, 12.67 rebounds and 10.67 assists per game.

No player has more triple-doubles this season than Westbrook (five). Coincidentally, the two players tied for second -- Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams (three each) -- have both been traded during the season.

Here are my Week 18 NBA Power Rankings:

1. Golden State Warriors (Record 46-11, Last Week 1)
2. Atlanta Hawks (Record 47-12, Last Week 2)
3. Memphis Grizzlies (Record 42-16, Last Week 3)
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record 37-24, Last Week 4)
5. Houston Rockets (Record 41-18, Last Week 7)
6. Portland Trail Blazers (Record 39-19, Last Week 9)
7. Los Angeles Clippers (Record 39-21, Last Week 10)
8. San Antonio Spurs (Record 36-23, Last Week 6)
9. Dallas Mavericks (Record 39-22, Last Week 8)
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record 33-27, Last Week 12)
11. Toronto Raptors (Record 37-22, Last Week 5)
12. Chicago Bulls (Record 37-23, Last Week 11)
13. New Orleans Pelicans (Record 32-27, Last Week 16)
14. Indiana Pacers (Record 25-34, Last Week 17)
15. Washington Wizards (Record 34-26, Last Week 14)
16. Phoenix Suns (Record 31-29, Last Week 13)
17. Milwaukee Bucks (Record 32-27, Last Week 15)
18. Detroit Pistons (Record 23-36, Last Week 18)
19. Charlotte Hornets (Record 24-33, Last Week 19)
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record 24-33, Last Week 20)
21. Miami Heat (Record 25-33, Last Week 21)
22. Utah Jazz (Record 23-35, Last Week 23)
23. Boston Celtics (Record 23-34, Last Week 25)
24. Orlando Magic (Record 19-42, Last Week 22)
25. Sacramento Kings (Record 20-37, Last Week 24)
26. Los Angeles Lakers (Record 16-42, Last Week 28)
27. Denver Nuggets (Record 20-39, Last Week 26)
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record 13-45, Last Week 27)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (Record 13-46, Last Week 29)
30. New York Knicks (Record 12-46, Last Week 30)

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