The Mavericks (35--15) had won eight straight through Sunday, fueled by Tyson Chandler's (right) presence in the paint (9.5 rpg) and Dirk Nowitzki's (23.4 ppg) return to the starting lineup. Sporting the sixth best D in the league (94.5 ppg), Big D trails only San Antonio for best record in the West.
The Catalans' 3--0 win over Atletico Madrid last Saturday was their 16th straight league victory, breaking a 50-year-old record. Two-time FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi (right) had all three goals. Over the streak Barcelona (20-1-1) has outscored opponents 60--6.
The Bulls (34--15) sit 12½ games up in the Central, as Derrick Rose (right) was voted into the East's All-Star starting lineup, the first Bull to start since MJ in '98. More good news: Carlos Boozer is back from injury, averaging 18.2 points and 11.0 boards in the last five games.
COASTAL CAROLINA GREAT
With 20 straight wins (D-I's second-longest active winning streak), the Chanticleers (13--0, 22--2) are atop the Big South and riding high as the hottest team in Carolina—North or South. With 19.1 ppg, junior Desmond Holloway (right) leads C.C.'s best squad since 1993.
Everything's bigger in Texas—including problems. The Super Bowl host battled wintry weather all week (six people were hospitalized after being struck by ice falling from Cowboys Stadium), exacerbated by a taxi strike, then had an embarrassing ticket snafu on game day. Dallas may have just hosted its first and last Super Bowl.
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
Signing day for top high schoolers has gone over the top. Last week's lowlights: accusing mom of forging a signature, committing then decommitting, decisions announced on Twitter/Facebook and, as always, 18-year-olds choosing schools live on national TV.
Above .500 at home (13--12), the Wizards haven't won a road game all year (0--25!). Mired in an eight-game losing streak, Washington ranks 20th or worse in every offensive category. The lone bright spot? All-Star rookie John Wall, whose 9.1 APG ranks fifth in the NBA.
WOEFUL CAROLINA STATE
The Wolfpack has lost seven of its last eight, including a 76--52 beatdown from Duke last Saturday, dropping N.C. State's ACC record to 2--7. The good news? Freshman C.J. Leslie (10.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is back after a one-game suspension. The bad? It still has to play in the ACC.
SI PLAYERS NBA POLL
WHICH OF THESE TWO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY ALONGSIDE FOR 10 YEARS?
LeBron James, Heat F 58%
Kevin Durant, Thunder F 42%
Veterans trended toward James (63% of those 35 and older), while youngsters favored Durant (55% of those under 25)... . Through Sunday, Durant led the pair in points per 48 minutes (35.0 versus James's 32.8), while James led in rebounds (9.1; 8.5), assists (9.2; 3.4) and steals (1.9; 1.3)... . James's teams have an overall winning percentage of .618 but are just 10--18 in games he misses; Durant's teams are .426 and 9--5.
Based on 154 players who responded to SI's survey
MATTHEW EMMONS/US PRESSWIRE (CHANDLER)
GUSTAU NACARINO/REUTERS (MESSI)
JOHN GREEN/CAL SPORT MEDIA (ROSE)
DAVID ALLIO/ICON SMI (HOLLOWAY)
GREG NELSON (DURANT)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (JAMES)