25. Sacramento Kings (29): I’ll let them climb out of the basement bottom five this week, as they knocked off the Lakers in Los Angeles then ended New Orleans’ 10-game winning streak the following night. However, life is only going to get more difficult as their calendar for the next two weeks is pretty daunting: Boston, San Antonio, Utah, Dallas then Oklahoma City. Ouch.
24. Detroit Pistons (24): They started off the week with a huge win in Orlando, but they weren’t able to use that as a springboard into the rest of their week, as they lost three straight to Denver, Miami and New York. A trade is on the horizon for this team, GM Joe Dumars just has to understand that he’s not going to get the same talent he would have three years ago for Hamilton and/or Prince.
23. Indiana Pacers (22): Head Coach Jim O’Brien is now former-head coach, but I don’t think that he’s to blame for Indiana’s recent struggles. Danny Granger is good, but the rest of the team? Not so much. A coach can only do so much, but at the end of the day, he’s got to have some quality players to work with.
22. Milwaukee Bucks (23): Brandon Jennings is back, and with Milwaukee having won three in a row and five of their last seve, it couldn’t come at a more perfect time. Until Feb. 16, they play a fairly easy schedule, so it shouldn’t be too hard for them to catch some momentum and ride it back into the playoff picture.
21. Los Angeles Clippers (13): I guess 13 was just a little too high for the Clips, who were brought back to Earth after losing two in a row. They still have a shot at making a run and stealing the eighth seed, but it’s going to be much tougher with perennial all-star Eric Gordon sidelined for three-to-four weeks with an injured wrist.