Power Rankings: Mavs Back on the Rise as Lakers Fall From Top-Five

25. New Jersey Nets (26): Now that the “Melodrama” is over, the Nets have to decide if they are going to fight for a playoff spot (it’s still very likely that they could nab the eighth-seed) or settle for the lottery in a very weak NBA draft. With no future core intact, they should opt for the latter, as one “four games and out” playoff set is not going to leave any positive ramifications for next year.

24. Los Angeles Clippers (21): It’s actually sad to see this team drop so low after showing so much promise to start the new year. However, the “Blakers” are going to to continue being one of the league’s most exciting teams; when Eric Gordon returns in the next couple of weeks, they’ll probably be too far out of the playoffs, but they will unquestionably be the Thunder of 2009-10 in 2011-12.

23. Detroit Pistons (24): Winning two of three games was a great way to start the month of February, but what has been the most impressive about this young ball club, is the quickly improving play of 2010 lottery pick, Greg Monroe, who has registered six double-doubles in 2011, after failing to post one in 2010. After capping off the month of January with a 15-point/17-rebound effort against the Knicks, “G-Money” is averaging 12.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game so far this month.

22. Milwaukee Bucks (22): They boast the league’s fourth-best defense (93.1 points allowed per game) but still cannot seem to use that to their advantage as they are constantly struggling to outscore their opponent – averaging a league-worst 91.3 points per game. They’ve dropped four in a row, but with two gimmes against Toronto and Washington coming up, they should be able to end that streak soon.

21. Charlotte Bobcats (19): While they commenced their week with back-to-back losses against Miami and Dallas, this week isn’t going to start off any easier for the Bobcats, as they host the Boston Celtics tonight. At 21-29, they really only need to go .500 the rest of the way if they want to make the playoffs, but with trade rumors surrounding Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, they might decide to write the season off and hope for better luck next year.

NEXT: 20-16

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