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The top of the FOX Sports NBA power rankings has been fairly balanced between Eastern and Western Conference teams for the better part of this season. But the resumption of play after the All-Star break, when teams begin to put their proverbial best foot forward, has resulted in a pronounced tilt westward.

The top 10 teams, in general, had a tough time of it. Only four — the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors — had more wins than losses last week. The Celtics retained their hold on the No. 1 spot by extending their winning streak to eight games with decisive road victories over the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, while the Oklahoma City Thunder climbed to No. 2 with three wins in four days. The Nuggets also jumped back into the top five by going 3-0, every win by 15 or more points, helping the West to occupy four of the top five spots.

Elsewhere, losing two of three — or worse — was the theme. The distance between the Celtics expanded with the Cleveland Cavaliers continuing their tumble from No. 1 a few weeks ago, losing two of three. The steady rises by both Los Angeles’ teams, Lakers and Clippers, also subsided with both going 1-2 for the week. The New Orleans Pelicans’ inching-upward progress stalled with a pair of home losses to teams with lower winning percentages (Heat and Bulls). All of which led to the unusual rise of both the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks simply because they offset humbling losses with decisive wins.

Two teams in the teens that bear watching: the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings. The previously 14th-ranked Bucks went on the road to knock off the previously second-ranked Minnesota Timberwolves and squash the fading Philadelphia 76ers. And the previously 17th-ranked Kings had a different look this past week in putting away the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.

While the Bucks are no strangers to the top 10 this season, the Kings have been, thanks to their consistent inconsistency. Despite having the same rotation that finished with a 48-34 record, the third seed in the West and the league’s top-ranked offense last season, the Kings have spent the better part of this season as a playoff hopeful rather than a lock.

Have they turned a corner? Can they solidify themselves as a top 10 team? This week will tell us a lot, the Kings having a home game against the Heat followed by roadies against the Timberwolves and Nuggets.

NBA Power Rankings

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

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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