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2012 NBA power rankings: Heat fall to No. 4

After consecutive losses to the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks over the weekend, the Miami Heat fell one spot in ESPN's latest power rankings.

Stephen Dunn

The Miami Heat followed up a six-game winning streak with a two-game losing streak last week, losing road games to the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks on Friday and Saturday. Consequently, the defending NBA champions fell in ESPN's latest power rankings, but not too far. The Heat come in at No. 4 this week, down one spot from last week.

Miami's struggles are, unsurprisingly, a result of shoddy defense. The Heat allow opponents to score 97.8 points per game this season, 18th best in the NBA. That's hardly the mark of a championship caliber team, but that's currently where the defending champions stand, as the calendar shifts to 2013.

The Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs are the only three teams ranked ahead of the Heat -- and they all reside in the Western Conference. Chris Paul and the Clippers are currently riding a 17-game winning streak, and own the NBA's best record at 25-6.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.