LeBron James has the Heat playing inspiring basketball. ((Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) )

Each week, CBCSports.ca's Lance Winn breaks down the balance of power in the National Basketball Association.

1. SAN ANTONIO SPURS [unchanged]
Record : 44-9
Last 10 : 7-3

Not many teams can go deep in the shot clock, make the extra pass, and get an uncontested look 85 per cent of the time. All five starters average double-digits and they are as efficient on the road (19-9, including wins in four of their last five), as they are at home (25-2)...well, not quite, but I think you get the point.
2. MIAMI HEAT [up from 3]
Record : 39-14
Last 10 : 9-1

It appears things are sunny in South Beach. LeBron James continues on his nightly quest for a triple-double (41 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists vs. Pacers) and that has the Heat playing inspired basketball -- at both ends of the court. They are fifth in the league defensively, hold their opponents to just 42.6 per cent from the floor (first in the NBA), and limit teams to 32.7 per cent from the land beyond (second). Good and getting better. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
3. DALLAS MAVERICKS [up from 4]
Record : 37-16
Last 10 : 9-1

A loss at the buzzer to the Nuggets put an end to a nine-game winning streak, but this team has found its groove. Not much give in the West though -- even after winning nine of 10, the Mavericks still trail the Spurs by 7.5 games in the Southwest Division. Tough crowd, tough conference.
4. LA LAKERS [up from 6]
Record : 38-16
Last 10 : 7-3

Sure, the Celtics sent a message in their last visit to the Staples Center, but Kobe and company returned the favour with a dazzling performance in Beantown. Many have written this team off, and that’s a mistake. Tied for second in the West isn’t bad considering they have no chance to three-peat -- or do they?
5. BOSTON CELTICS [down from 2]
Record : 38-14
Last 10 : 5-5

Still the team to beat in the East, despite losing at home to the Lakers. Ray Allen surpassed Reggie Miller as the league's best three-point shooter of all-time, and Kendrick Perkins is having an impact since returning to the lineup.
6. CHICAGO BULLS [down from 5]
Record : 35-16
Last 10 : 7-3

A homecoming of sorts for Carlos Boozer as the Bulls edged the Jazz in a battle of the league’s two premiere point guards. Derrick Rose is more than a handful, but take a peek at the Bulls’ record against division opponents: 11-0. Nice.

Record : 33-18
Last 10 : 6-4

Is Russell Westbrook an all-star? If you don’t think so, you better check yourself. He dropped 33 points on the Jazz, and the Thunder have won five of their last seven games. They can build on that with two against Sacramento, Golden State, and the Clippers.

8. ATLANTA HAWKS [unhanged]
Record : 33-19
Last 10 : 6-4

The roller-coaster ride in Atlanta continued with a disappointing 33-point loss to the Sixers. It’s only the first half of the season, but can you see the playoff writing on the wall? Look closer.

9. ORLANDO MAGIC [up from 10]
Record : 34-21
Last 10 : 5-5

The Magic just can’t seem to beat the NBA’s elite. They do beat teams below them, so it’s not all bad in Orlando.
10. DENVER NUGGETS [up from 11]
Record : 31-23
Last 10 : 5-5

They dropped a heartbreaker in Oakland before bouncing back to put an end to the Mavericks' nine-gamer, and still sport the league’s top rated offence (107.6 points-per-game). The fate of the franchise appears to be in Carmelo’s hands. The saga continues.
11. UTAH JAZZ [up from 14]
Record : 31-23
Last 10 : 4-6

The Utah Jazz without Jerry Sloan at the helm? Perish the thought. Actually it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. Thirty years and 1,127 wins later Sloan stepped down after an emotional loss to the Bulls earlier this week, the team’s 10th in the last 14 games. He will be missed.
12. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS [down from 9]
Record : 33-22
Last 10 : 4-6

Four straight losses and six of seven overall have the Hornets scratching their heads. Falling to Minnesota and New Jersey had to hurt, because it sure was painful to watch.
Record : 29-24
Last 10 : 6-4

An all-star snub has forward LaMarcus Aldridge playing like a man with something to prove. Dropping 42 points and eight boards against Chicago isn’t bad. Remember what he did to the Spurs? Are you sure he’s not a reserve at the very least? If I have to convince you, then you need to watch more hoops.

14. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES [down from 12]
Record : 29-26
Last 10 : 7-3

An overtime win in OKC was big. Doing it without Rudy Gay? Even bigger. Fortunately forward Zach Randolph took matters into his own hands, leading the team in scoring (20.2 ppg) and rebounding (13.2).

15. NY KNICKS [unhanged]
Record : 26-26
Last 10 : 4-6

A split with Philly and a loss to the Clippers won’t get the team the day off, but it should turn some heads. Consistency is an issue, but that’s to be expected considering the new-look Knicks. They’re 5-4 in the division, 16-11 in conference play -- going to be tough to beat a contender in a seven-game series.
16. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS [unchanged]
Record : 25-28
Last 10 : 7-3

A blowout in Atlanta, a reality check in Orlando, and the Sixers remain in the Eastern Conference mix. A meeting with San Antonio before swinging West could help or hinder. We shall see.
17. PHOENIX SUNS [unchanged]
Record : 25-25
Last 10 : 6-4

Steve Nash led the Suns to back-to-back wins over the Warriors to remain in the fold. Captain Canada not on the all-star roster?! They need to make some room.
18. HOUSTON ROCKETS [unchanged]
Record : 25-29
Last 10 : 5-5

They can score (104.9 ppg, fourth in the league) but can’t defend (104.8 ppg, 23rd). Any more questions? Check the standings.

Record : 23-29
Last 10 : 4-6

Can’t seem to figure out the Suns, even after handing the Nuggets a two-point loss. It continues to be an upward climb in Oakland.

20. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS [unchanged]
Record : 22-31
Last 10 : 4-6

Losses to the Heat and Mavericks before surprising the Celtics helped Charlotte pull to within a game of the final playoff spot in the East. Michael Jordan schooling the boys in practice? Priceless.
21. INDIANA PACERS [unchanged]
Record : 23-28
Last 10 : 7-3

A 4-1 record in the month of February has the Pacers holding on to the eighth spot in the East. Barely.
22. MILWAUKEE BUCKS [up from 23]
Record : 20-32
Last 10 : 4-6

Couldn’t handle the Wizards and now head to Memphis before Indiana. Better shape up and fly right.
23. DETROIT PISTONS [up from 25]
Record : 20-34
Last 10 : 4-6

They beat Cleveland. Now they play Miami. Talk about going from one extreme to the other.
24. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS [down from 22]
Record : 20-33
Last 10 : 3-7

Forget the Clips -- Blake Griffin in the dunk contest? Hope he wears a helmet with a chin strap.
25. NEW JERSEY NETS [down from 24]
Record : 17-37
Last 10 : 5-5

Knocked off the Hornets but now go on the road where they’ve lost 12 in a row.

26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS [unchanged]
Record : 14-37
Last 10 : 2-8

Snapped an eight-gamer. One step at a time.

Record : 13-40
Last 10 : 3-7

Better than Toronto, better than Sacramento, better than Cleveland, but that’s it.
28. TORONTO RAPTORS [up from 29]
Record : 14-40
Last 10 : 1-9

Got the monkey off their backs (13-game slide) just in time to start another streak of the same variety.

29. SACRAMENTO KINGS [down from 27]
Record : 12-37
Last 10 : 3-7

Tough home sked hasn't helped.

Record : 9-45
Last 10 : 1-9

Every time they step on the court history is made.