If there were red warning lights and a siren attached to the FOX Sports NBA Power rankings, they would be going off right now.

While the very top teams remained unchanged from last week — the top nine virtually unchanged — there are several places lower on the grid where power surges are causing significant disruptions.

The Houston Rockets, living up to their name, have soared into the postseason picture. As of March 1, they looked lottery-bound, seven games out of the last play-in tournament berth with the Utah Jazz in front of them. Their overall statistics and performance suggested they were better than their record — 25-34 — but that didn’t mean anything as far as extending their season.

Until their schedule turned a little more favorable.

Home and aways with both the Wizards and Spurs and six out of 11 games against lottery-bound teams has resulted in a 10-1 run that has vaulted them over the Jazz and made them a threat to unseat one of the current play-in teams. Losing center Alperen Sengun five games into the recent stretch has not slowed them down in the least. Going 3-0 last week while the Golden State Warriors lost three of four now has the Rockets one game away from the last ticket to the play-in tournament and directly behind the Warriors in the power rankings.

The New Orleans Pelicans are applying the same pressure to the Los Angeles Clippers. As of Feb. 1 the Clippers were third in the West, a mere two games out of the top spot and beating the Celtics and Thunder by double digits. But since Feb. 7 they are 10-10, which includes their most recent embarrassing home loss, this one to Philadelphia. The Pelicans have exploited that mediocrity and a favorable schedule of their own to close within a half-game and are threatening to enter the power ranking’s top five for the first time this season.

The sparking wires in the East can be found in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have lost 3 in a row and six of their last eight, allowing both the surging New York Knicks and Orlando Magic to close on them. The Cavs, who enjoyed a brief stint as the power ranking’s No. 1 team, have to hope they find their groove again before the seventh-place Miami Heat do or they could slip all the way into the play-in tournament after appearing at the All-Star break to be a lock to host a first-round series.

NBA Power Rankings

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

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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