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Power Rankings, Week 12: Spurs regaining some street cred

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The Spurs are rising back up behind a newly-minted No. 1 defense and surging offense.

Charlotte Hornets v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Remember a few weeks ago when everyone was worried about Kawhi Leonard being frozen out on the defensive end and lethargic offense from basically everyone except Leonard and the bench? Yeah, times have changed. The starters are beginning to look like a cohesive unit that’s been together for more than a couple of months, and the defense has gone from a decent-but-not-championship-caliber unit at the beginning of the season back to the terror the Spurs have always prided themselves on being.

Sure, the current stretch of schedule isn’t exactly the toughest, but back in November the Spurs were caught taking their opponents for granted and either losing or having to rally back late to beat lesser teams. That is no longer the case, as the Spurs have held a 20 point lead in seven of their last eight games and are leaving no doubt who the better team is. They look like a team that is having fun out there, and that is a very good sign as the second half of the schedule draws near.

Jon Schuhumann, NBA.com - 1 (last week: 3)

It was only five weeks ago that the Spurs ranked 13th in defensive efficiency. They've been so good defensively since then, they're even stealing the ball from each other. Having allowed less than a point per possession over their last 17 games (seven against top-10 offenses, only five against bottom-10 offenses), they are back in that No. 1 spot, where they were for the last 22 weeks of last season. Their offense has been better too, they've led seven of their last eight games by at least 20 points, and they've outscored their opponents by a league-best 11.5 points per 100 possessions since Thanksgiving.

Plus-minus stud: Kawhi Leonard (SAS) was a plus-66 in three games last week.

David Aldridge, NBA.com - 2 (last week: 3)

You can’t possibly be surprised that Davis Bertans can come in and dominate an NBA game, can you? Have you been paying attention the last two decades?

Marc Stein, ESPN - 3 (last week: 4)

LaMarcus Aldridge has been crazy efficient of late, Danny Green is up to No. 3 in the league in 3-point shooting (.458) after last season's struggles and Latvian rookie Davis Bertans -- in one of my favorite stat finds of the season from the ESPN research crew -- has never lost an NBA game in which he's scored in. The Spurs are 14-0 when Bertans scores at least one point and a tidy 26-4 since that jarring stretch to open the month of November when they lost three games in four outings ... all of them at home. As a team, furthermore, San Antonio has moved into the top spot in defensive efficiency and, as tracked by my NBA.com colleague John Schuhmann, have rung up nothing but big leads lately. Stop us if you've heard this one before: Write San Antonio off at your own peril.

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated - 1 (last week: 3)

Death, taxes and the Spurs. San Antonio boasts a league-best +16.1 net rating over its last 10 games, playing the NBA’s most efficient offense and defense and moving in full stride. Their last seven wins have come by 20, 19, 21, 26, 28, 28 and 17 points. Let’s hand them proper credit, at least until next week.

Matt Moore, CBS Sports - 2 (last week: 4)

San Antonio has won 10 of 12, and one of them (an overtime loss to Atlanta) was with Kawhi Leonard having the flu. They are an elite defense, and the league's best in the second half of games in net rating. They get better week after week.

Kurt Helin, NBC Sports - 1 (last week: 3)

Winners of four in a row and seven of their last eight, the Spurs defense is back (allowing less than a point per possession in their last 10 games) and with it they have outscored opponents by 16.1 points per 100 possessions in their last 10 (best in the NBA). The Spurs have another interesting find in Davis Bertrans, who was a draft-and-stash throw-in as part of the Kawhi Leonard/George Hill trade who dropped 21 last week and has played solidly in a bench role for the team.