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NBA Power Rankings: Hornets continue surprising rise

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NBA Power Rankings: Hornets continue surprising rise

Good luck trying to figure out these Charlotte Hornets.

One of the league's best stories in the season's first two months, racing out to a 14-8 start, things went south. Steve Clifford's group dropped 12 of 15 between December and January and appeared on track to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.

They inched their way back to relevance in January, coming within a game of .500 at 22-23, then 24-25. They finally got back to .500 on Feb. 8 with a home win over the Bulls. And since that time, they've been on fire.

Led by a dominant Kemba Walker, who was named the Eastern Conference player of the week, Charlotte has won 13 of 15 and, after being left for dead, sits tied for 5th in the East and just 1.5 games behind third-seeded Boston.

They're the biggest risers in this week's power rankings. Here's how the other 29 teams fared:

Previous power rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) 59-6  They needed a 37-point fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing home loss to the Suns on Saturday. As it stands, they'll need a 14-3 finish to top the Bulls' mark. It looks like it'll happen, especially if they beat the Spurs on Saturday.
(2) 56-10  Impressive home wins against the Bulls and Thunder to close the week give them a 32-0 record at the AT&T Center. Saturday night's showdown there against the Warriors could be an instant classic (and they play twice more after that).
(3) 47-18  There are days you wonder whether they'll even make it out of the East (Monday's loss to Memphis). Then there are days you wonder if they really can compete with Golden State in a seven-game series (24-point road win over the Clips).
4 (4) 44-20  DeMar DeRozan was an absolute monster Saturday night in Toronto's overtime win against the Heat. He went for a season-high 38 points and grabbed 10 boards, keeping Toronto within reaching distance of Cleveland for the No. 1 seed.
5 (5) 44-22  Incredibly they've now lost six of nine, the worst of those coming Saturday at home to the Timberwolves. There's time to right the ship, and they'll need to do so to stay in the No. 3 spot (and avoid the Warriors in Round 2).
6 (6)   42-23  Sunday's matchup against the Cavs would have been a chance to make a statement. A 24-point loss later, the next chance they'll have to do just that is Tuesday in San Antonio.
7 (9)   38-29  They've now won seven of their last nine and are in the race for the No. 3 seed in the East. Their only two losses in that span were at Golden State and at Toronto. And both were single-digit defeats. Al Horford and Co. are heating up at the right time.
8 (7)   38-28  Can't say enough about how much Joe Johnson has helped the Bosh-less Heat offense. In eight games Johnson is averaging 15.5 points on 57 percent shooting. Miami has won six of eight in that span.
9 (8)   39-27  It'll be on Brad Stevens to figure out his rotation in the wake of Jae Crowder's sprained ankle that'll keep him out two weeks. Boston is clinging to a one-game lead on the No. 3 seed over Miami.
10 (12)   37-28  The Hornets have won seven in a row. In those games, Kemba Walker has averaged Curry-like numbers: 28.6 points, 53% FG, 3.6 3-pointers, 6.9 assists. Charlotte looks like a lock for the postseason after being left for dead two months ago.
11 (11)   39-27  It's incredible they've been able to piece parts together and remain in the playoff hunt without a host of key players. They're 9-5 since Marc Gasol was lost for the season with a broken foot.
12 (10)   35-32  It would have been nice to see them put up more of a fight in Golden State (16-point loss). But they responded nicely Saturday, thumping the Magic by 37 points. The Blazers hit 17 triples in that one, two days after connecting on 18 triples against the Dubs.
13 (13)   35-31  Indiana took a big step forward toward making the postseason with an impressive win over the Spurs on Monday. Monta Ellis and Paul George combined for 49 points in that one. Three more tests this week, hosting Boston, Toronto and Oklahoma City.
14 (15)   34-32  The time is now for Detroit to make their move. After a road tilt in Washington, D.C., on Monday they'll play nine straight at home. If they want to hang on to that No. 8 seed, it'll happen based on what happens in March.
15 (17)   33-33 Before running into the buzzsaw that is the Charlotte Hornets, James Harden and the Rockets picked up impressive road wins against the Raptors and Celtics. They're currently tied with Dallas for seventh in the West, two games up on Utah.
16 (16)   32-32 Playoff odds are looking bleaker for the Bulls, who are now dealing with injuries to Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol just as Jimmy Butler returns to the lineup. They're only one game back of the Pistons for the No. 8 seed, but Detroit owns the tiebreaker.
17 (20)    31-35 They stopped the bleeding with wins over the Wizards and Kings, but they've still got plenty of work to do if they're going to catch the Mavericks or Rockets.
18 (21)    29-38 More Giannis Antetokounmpo love. In his last 11 games he's logged four triple-doubles, averaging 20.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.9 blocks per game in 38.5 minutes. He just turned 21 years old.
19 (14)   33-33  A head-scratching five-game losing streak has them on the verge of dropping out of the playoff chase. And now they get a red-hot Hornets team, followed by Cleveland, Golden State, Portland at home, Portland on the road and Golden State again. Yikes.
20 (24)   28-38  They've won four straight, tying the Warriors (yes, those Warriors) for the longest current winning streak in the West. Emmanuel Mudiay has really turned a corner in his rookie season, averaging 19.7 points and 5.7 assists in his last six games.
21 (18)   30-35  John Wall is quietly putting up MVP numbers. But it may be too little, too late for the Wizards, who have now lost five straight and are 3.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the East. One of the conference's biggest disappointments.
22 (22)   28-37  With the playoffs now out of reach, might be time for Scott Skiles to really unleash rookie Mario Hezonja. He's averaging 23.1 minutes per game in March in a crowded Magic backcourt. #FreeSuperMario.
23 (23)   24-41  Don't tell Anthony Davis to coast down the stretch for a lottery-bound team. In his last four games he's averaged 31.3 points and 11.8 rebounds. Of course, the injury-ravaged Pelicans are 1-3 in those games.
24 (19)   25-40  The Kings have imploded. They've lost nine of 10, DeMarcus Cousins was suspended for screaming at George Karl in a huddle and are 7.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the West. Just a dysfunctional organization from the top down.
25 (26)   21-45  Ricky Rubio's triple with 0.2 seconds remaining won it for the Wolves in Oklahoma City. But the real story was Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, including two key buckets and a huge block on KD in the final minute.
26 (25)   28-40  Probably not a majority opinion, but if the Knicks heed Carmelo Anthony's advice and make a significant move in free agency they aren't that far away from competing in the East.
27 (27) 18-48  In a lost season, the Nets may have found something in Sean Kilpatrick. The former Cincinnati Bearcat has played well, averaging 13.6 points and 2.0 triples in his last five games. The former All-American has always been able to score.
28 (29) 14-53  The young Lakers are looking better each night. Julius Randle has averaged 15.1 points on 50 percent shooting and 9.9 rebounds in his last eight games. He's rounded into form nicely after a quiet first half.
29 (30) 17-49  Not much to play for in Phoenix, but it'll be fun to watch Devin Booker and Brandon Knight work together in the Suns' backcourt. On Saturday they combined for 48 points and 18 assists in a near-win over the Warriors.
30 (28) 9-57  A six-point win over the Nets at home isn't usually anything to write about. But it marked the Sixers' first win since Feb. 6 and snapped a 13-game losing streak. Congrats. Almost up to double-digit W's.

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

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USA TODAY

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

After much discussion over whether or not the NBA should impose harsher penalties on teams for breaking the anti-tampering rules, an official decision has been made. The NBA Board of Governors passed a much more strict set of rules that will force teams to be compliant with the anti-tampering rules.

Among the new measures, the league will be selecting five teams per year that will undergo a "random audit", the maximum amount for a fine related to tampering has been raised to $10 million and team officials are required to save communications with agents for one full year.

The league will also retain the right to take the communication devices of owners if it is deemed necessary in investigations, though it has been stated that it is not something that Adam Silver wants to rely on moving forward. 

Though concrete details have not been released, possible punishments for tampering will reportedly include taking away draft picks, the voiding of contracts and more.

This is all in an attempt to create a more "even playing field" amid the belief that small-market teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to player movement. The new rules sound great but there is already fear among NBA GMs when it comes to how their privacy will be affected with this being a clear area of focus for the league. 

Along with the new, harsher tampering penalties, the league also announced that they have changed the language regarding traveling calls to "address the uncertainty around traveling." Another new rule announced was that teams are now required to announce their starting lineups at least 30 minutes before tipoff as opposed to 10 minutes, in an effort to "increase transparency for teams, media and fans." Teams will still be allowed to change their lineups up to the last minute if a player gets hurt in pregame warmups. 

All of the new anti-tampering rules approved by the league on Friday were a response to this wild NBA offseason we just experienced. There were many deals agreed to right at the start of free agency, such as the Bulls with Thaddeus Young, and the timing of those deals had many owners wanting the league to make tampering a greater focus. To a greater extent, moves like Anthony Davis forcing his way to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard orchestrating he and Paul George's move to the Clippers are what got this package of anti-tampering measures passed.

Adam Silver has picked up a reputation as an NBA Commissioner who is very willing to listen to new ideas and make changes, and Friday's events support that reputation as he and the league continue to look for the best ways to get NBA teams to be in compliance with the anti-tampering rules. 

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

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USA TODAY

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

The Jonas Brothers are in Chicago for concerts that are taking place on Thursday and Friday night, and they have enjoyed quite a week. This week the trio has enjoyed a nice golf outing at Village Links in Glen Ellyn, had some quality BBQ at Bub City and even got the amazing opportunity to play a touch football game at Soldier Field. But one particular Bulls guard is looking to add another fun experience to their Chicago trip.

The Bulls organization welcomed the Jonas Brothers to the city with a set of custom jerseys for the trio and their significant others and that's when Ryan Arcidiacono chimed in with his offer. 

Since the Jonas Brothers have already got to play some football on the actual Soldier Field grass, Arci figured they might as well keep the Chicago sports-themed fun going and shoot some hoops with him. 

Now, Arcidiacono didn't make it clear whether or not he was offering for the Jonas Brother to get some shots up with him at the United Center, where their shows take place on Thursday and Friday night. But, either way, his time is running out as they will be moving on to Jackson County, MO for their next stop on tour on September 21.

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