By Chris Mannix
March 01, 2010
NBA Power Rankings
21 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 21
You can see why they didn't want to offer recently acquired Drew Gooden a buyout -- and why Gooden was happy to stay. Mainly a backup with the Mavericks, Gooden has settled in as the Clippers' starting power forward and is averaging 15.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in four games since being shuttled from Dallas to Washington to Los Angeles.
22 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 22
Andray Blatche has been a monster since the Wizards broke up their roster. Blatche is averaging 26.6 points and 11.7 rebounds in seven games since the All-Star break, including a 36-point, 15-rebound explosion in a victory against the Nets on Sunday. The Wizards have gone 4-3 in those games.
23 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 23
The only real intrigue in Philly these days involves Allen Iverson, who continues to be on an indefinite leave from the team while he deals with his daughter's medical problems. Coach Eddie Jordan told reporters that he has "no gut feeling" when (or if) Iverson will return. Meanwhile, the Sixers face four of the East's top five teams this week: Orlando, Atlanta, Boston and Toronto.
24 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 24
Indy had lost seven of eight before beating Chicago on Saturday behind an offense that racked up 23 assists on 35 field goals. But things only get tougher now for the Pacers, who start a four-game West Coast trip Tuesday against the Lakers and continues in Portland, Denver and Phoenix.
25 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 25
Losing to the Warriors is bad. Losing to the Monta Ellis- and Corey Maggette-less Warriors after leading by 14 in the second half is inexcusable, even for a team with only seven road victories. The Pistons committed 23 turnovers and shot 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) from the free-throw line (Ben Wallace went 1-for-9 and had two airballs in the final minute in a loss that capped a 1-3 road trip.
26 New York Knicks
Last Week: 26
Could Bill Walker survive the Knicks' offseason purge? The athletic second-year swingman has been getting a long look (a career-high 25 minutes in Saturday's loss to Memphis) and drawing praise from coach Mike D'Antoni. Walker has a team option for next season worth only $854,000 money. Hey, LeBron is going to need teammates, right?
27 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 27
Beno Udrih, last year's starting point guard, is back in the first unit in the wake of the Kevin Martin trade. Udrih (25 points, four assists) outplayed Deron Williams (10 points, 13 assists) in Friday's victory against Utah, and the Kings beat the Clippers two nights later to complete a 4-9 month.
28 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 28
Playing Prognosticator, Part I: That win against Detroit leaves Don Nelson seven wins shy of breaking Lenny Wilkens' all-time record for coaching victories. Getting them will be tough. The Warriors open March with a five-game road trip and have only one game this month (the Clippers on March 28) against a non-playoff contender.
29 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 14-47
The hits just keep coming for the Timberwolves, who suspended Al Jefferson for two games after the forward-center was arrested on suspicion of DWI last week. Jefferson's absence likely means more minutes for Darko Milicic, who has been a regular rotation player (average of 20.4 minutes in five games) since coming over from New York.
30 New Jersey Nets
Last Week: 30
Playing Prognosticator, Part II: Following last week's stunning win at Boston, the Nets are four wins away from avoiding NBA infamy. They should get there ... really. Jersey has -- it's oxymoron time -- seven "winnable" games remaining: against the Knicks, Sixers, Kings, Pistons, Wizards, Pacers and Bobcats (New Jersey has defeated Charlotte twice already).
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