Carmelo Anthony must be loving this.
Amar'e Stoudemire isn't around to challenge for shots because he's got a bulging disk in his back and is out for perhaps the final 15 games of the regular-season. Jeremy Lin has been on the shelf, taking care of an injured knee.
The Knicks now are 'Melo's team, and at least for the time being, they're in great shape. By going 8-1 under Mike Woodson and with everything being centered around Anthony in recent games, they've rocketed back up the charts in our weekly rankings. They were 20th two weeks ago, but now they're a solid No. 11.
The Heat, meanwhile, has had some slippage, even with their big home win over Dallas on Thursday. Miami has slipped from No. 2 to No. 4.
Here's how we see the NBA, from top to bottom:
1. Chicago Bulls (Last Week: 1) We know they've been rolling merrily along without Derrick Rose, but we're hoping he can play in Sunday's showdown against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, the one and only time these two powerhouses meet in the regular-season.
2. Oklahoma City (Last Week: 3) The Thunder started off a key stretch of statement games, against the Lakers, Bulls and Heat, with a solid win over Kobe Bryant and L.A. on the road.
3. San Antonio Spurs (Last Week: 4) The Spurs have had Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all take the court in the same game for only 17 games this season, but they're 13-4 in those contests.
4. Miami Heat (Last Week: 2) Things have been falling apart since the All-Star Game, with the Heat going only 9-6 and talk that the Big Three is not happy with Erik Spoelstra's offense. Sounds like they're bored with the regular-season.
5. Orlando Magic (Last Week: 5) From what we saw in the Garden with the Magic's disgraceful lack of effort, Dwight Howard will be making a coaching change at season's end and Stan Van Gundy will be looking for a new job.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (Last Week: 6) When the Lakers couldn't stay with the Thunder, and lost their third recent game on their home floor, the West officially became a two-team race between Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (Last Week: 7 ) As they embark on a three-game swing over next four days vs. Houston, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, Grizzlies are 4-4 in road games in March, including a win over the Lakers in L.A.
8. L.A. Clippers (Last Week: 9) Despite the Clips losing 12 of 19 games, owner Donald Sterling says he's fine with coach Vinny Del Negro. But let's not forget: Del Negro is on the final year of his contract
9. Indiana Pacers (Last Week: 8) When the Pacers pounded the Heat this week by 15 points, it was their first big victory since winning in Dallas on Feb. 3. Then they went out and lost to the Nets, which kind of took the luster right off that win over Miami.
10. Atlanta Hawks (Last Week: 11) The Hawks welcomed Knicks coach Mike Woodson back Friday night in his first game since he was sent packing by Atlanta after the 2009-10 season.
11. The Knicks (Last Week: 20) If Mike D'Antoni had stepped down earlier, they might be leading the Atlantic Division by now, instead of still being in a fight to move out of the No. 8 spot in the East.
12. Boston Celtics (Last Week: 12) Sunday's game vs. the Heat kicks off a brutal seven-game stretch over 11 days, with other matchups vs. San Antonio, at Chicago, at Indiana, Philly, at Miami and Atlanta. There's not an easy game in the bunch for Doc Rivers' team.
13. Philadelphia (Last Week: 10) It can't be good for Doug Collins that Andre Iguodala has been KO'd by tendinitis in his left knee.
14. Dallas Mavericks (Last Week: 14) They scored only 32 points after halftime in their blowout loss Thursday to Miami, but Delonte West is back and soon they're going to have Brendan Haywood back in the middle.
15. Utah Jazz (Last Week: 17) The Jazz has been on a mini-run, winning 8 of 10 and still with a shot to finish as high as fourth in the West, incredibly enough.
16. Houston Rockets (Last Week: 16) The Rockets are hanging tough despite not having their starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin over the last two weeks due injuries and illness.
17. Denver Nuggets (Last Week: 13) They didn't exactly build off their surprisingly easy win in Chicago by losing up in Toronto. But they're still 13-2 against the East, with their only other loss by a point to Cleveland.
18. Phoenix Suns (Last Week: 19) The Suns have been one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference in March, winning 11 of 17. Now the bad news: Four of their losses were to the NBA's top teams.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (Last Week: 15) Including their loss at Memphis _ their 10th in their last 11 games vs. the Grizzlies _ thee Timberwolves ended a stretch of 19 straight games against Western Conference teams with an 8-11 record.
20. Portland Trailblazers (Last Week: 21) As long as long-time owner Paul Allen puts business over basketball, it's going to be tough to get this thing turned around.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (Last Week: 18) The Bucks have only two wins since Feb. 1 against teams with winning records (the Sixers and Hawks). For the season, they're just 6-18 against teams that are .500 or better, which means that even if they make the playoffs, they're going nowhere.
22. Golden State Warriors (Last Week: 22) Old Warrior coach Don Nelson has made the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. So celebrate the way Nellie will: Pop a beer and light up a cigar.
23. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 26) Dwane Casey's team has had two big wins lately, against the Knicks and Nuggets. But they'll really start to turn heads if they can upend the Heat Friday night in Toronto.
24. Detroit Pistons (Last Week: 23) The Pistons broke a five-game losing streak, but this is a rebuilding team that should tank the rest of the way to help improve their chances of landing a top pick in the draft lottery.
25. The Nets (Last Week: 25) During a recent home loss to his old team, the Jazz, Deron Williams heard a fan yell that Dirk Nowitzki was waiting for his arrival in Dallas. Which is the one thing Williams still has going for him.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (Last Week: 24) Losers of five straight games, they should keep losing and make sure they come away from the season with some good draft picks to help rookie phenom Kyrie Irving.
27. Sacramento Kings (Last Week: 27) Time to shore up the D, fellas: The Kings can't stop anybody, giving up 109 ppg in their last nine games.
28. New Orleans (Last Week: 28) Eric Gordon _ remember him, the one-time Clipper who was the key to the Chris Paul deal? _ expects to finally return off knee surgery in the coming days. He hasn't played since Jan. 4. 29. Washington Wizards (Last Week: 29) The Wizards started cleaning house at the trading deadline, getting rid of two of their headaches, by sending off JaVale McGee and Nick Young. But the next major changes have to come off the court, in the front office.
30. Charlotte Hornets (Last Week: 30) Michael Jordan recently told his GM, Rich Cho, to follow the Oklahoma City model for building a winner. Sounds like a plan, but the trick is going to be to find the next Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.