By Marty Burns
March 21, 2005
NBA Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
16 21 Mike Montgomery is staging his own version of March Madness. They beat the Suns and Kings over the weekend to make it three straight, and nine of 15 overall.
17 19 Not dead yet. They beat the Pacers on Sunday to stretch their win streak to a season-best four games. With a favorable schedule ahead, they could soon be back in the East playoff race.
18 17 Finally some good news for them: Jermaine O'Neal says he won't need surgery on his injured shoulder and might be back for playoffs. Of course, they still have to make it to the postseason first.
19 18 This year they have not been able to win close games. Through Sunday they were 9-17 this season in games decided by six points or less, compared to 19-13 in those games during 2003-04.
20 15 Sunday's loss to the Sonics was their fifth straight, giving them their longest losing skid since April, '94. They also fell to 10th in the West, putting their NBA-best playoff streak (10 straight years) in danger.
21 22 Holy Rollers? They beat the Cavs on Sunday to improve their record to 11-5 this season on the Sabbath. True to their choirboy form, they were 3-16 on Fridays or Saturdays.
22 23 Jim O'Brien might be feeling the heat, but he's not the only one in Philly whose nerves are shot. Chris Webber sat out Saturday's loss to the Bulls with a "compressed nerve" in his leg.
23 20 OK, so maybe their streak of consecutive seasons without making the playoffs is going to reach eight. But they're only three games behind the Lakers in the race for L.A.'s best record.
24 24
Orlando Magic (32-34)
They won at Portland on Sunday to give interim coach Chris Jent his first victory since replacing Johnny Davis. Now if they could just get Steve Francis to quit doing his Dennis Rodman impression on cameramen.
25 25 Jamaal Magloire is back in the middle, and they've actually been playing decent ball of late. But Speedy Claxton (ankle) is hobbling now, and the upcoming schedule is rugged.
26 26 They lost at Denver on Sunday to kick off a five-game Western road trip. With an 0-11 record against the West on the road this season, these Bucks could be returning on the hood of a car.
27 27
Utah Jazz (20-46)
Saturday's loss in D.C. was their ninth straight, and left them 0-5 on their recently-concluded road trip. The good news is they now return home for seven straight at the Delta Center.
28 28 Add Richie Frahm to their list of youngsters getting a chance to play. The former Gonzaga star has averaged 7.4 points (on 45.4 percent shooting) in 20.1 minutes over the past nine games.
29 28 Through Sunday they had lost 10 straight, and 20 of 22 overall. But with UNC and N.C. State both still alive in the NCAA Tourney, who in this college hoops-crazed state will even notice?
30 30
Atlanta Hawks (11-54)
Unlike the 'Cats, they can't find any cover from March Madness. Georgia Tech's ouster means Atlanta fans can focus again on the local pro team, losers of 17 of their last 18 at week's end.

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