By Chris Mannix
January 18, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
21 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 17
The week couldn't have gone much worse for the Clippers, who lost four in a row amid news that No. 1 pick Blake Griffin would have season-ending knee surgery, thus delaying his NBA debut until 2010-11. The upcoming schedule might not offer much encouragement, either. After home games with the Nets and Bulls, the Clippers head out on an eight-game road trip that includes stops in Denver, Boston, Cleveland and Atlanta.
22 New York Knicks
Last Week: 21
Mike D'Antoni says he likes his eight-man rotation. Good thing, because he might not have more than eight bodies with which to work. A frustrated Larry Hughes reportedly walked out of practice early on Sunday, joining Darko Milicic (who is looking to be released) and Eddy Curry (out six weeks with a knee injury) as non-options for D'Antoni.
23 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 27
The Pacers suddenly have a productive bench, thanks to Mike Dunleavy. The new sixth man helped the Pacers to a 152-107 edge in bench points in their three wins last week. "For Mike, who is a veteran, I think he's more interested in finishing the game than starting the game," coach Jim O'Brien told reporters. "Mike Dunleavy knows who he is and knows how much respect I have for who he is and what he brings. I've talked to him about starting and coming off the bench, and he couldn't care less."
24 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 25
Eddie Jordan delivered a message to his team recently: Play defense, or don't expect to play. "Coach has been very aggressive about his message the past couple of days," guard Willie Green told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers rank 24th in defensive efficiency and 27th in field-goal defense. "If you keep saying it and keep saying it and keep saying it as a coach and it doesn't get across, the seat-to-the-butt-to-the-brain is the next message," Jordan said.
25 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 28
Chris Wilcox's energy has been just what the Pistons needed. Detroit is 3-1 since inserting the uber-active Wilcox into the starting lineup. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds in only 16 minutes in Saturday's victory against the Knicks. "Running the floor, getting dunks and different things like that is all energy," Wilcox told the Detroit News.
26 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 22
Sacramento lost at lowly Philadelphia and Washington in the first two games since Kevin Martin returned from a wrist injury and reunited with Tyreke Evans in the starting backcourt. Meanwhile, rookie Omri Casspi might be starting to hit a wall. The 6-foot-9 forward is shooting 32 percent (16-for-52) over the last five games.
27 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 26
Despite the Wizards' woeful start and myriad off-court distractions, coach Flip Saunders isn't ready to wave the white flag on the season. "This team, it's scary, because we're not that far away, yet we are far away," Saunders told The Washington Post. "So the players have to understand, and they have to take the mentality that we're far away because that's how they have to go out and perform with that sense of urgency."
28 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 24
With the Warriors down to only seven healthy players, D-Leaguers might want to ramp up their games when a Golden state scout is in attendance. Just to finish a loss to Milwaukee last week, the Warriors took advantage of an obscure NBA rule that allowed Stephen Curry to re-enter the game after fouling out.
29 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 29
It's getting Jersey-like ugly in Minnesota. The Wolves capped an 0-4 road trip with a 25-point loss to Memphis, which scored 106 points through three quarters and finished with 135. "Our defense was atrocious," coach Kurt Rambis said after Minnesota's ninth loss in 10 games. "I'm embarrassed about how our guys played."
30 New Jersey Nets
Last Week: 30
There is hope for the future, but the present just keeps getting worse. After going 0-for-October (losing all three games) and November, the Nets could be headed for their third winless month of the season. The good news: Of their seven remaining opponents in January, only two have winning records.
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