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2012 NBA power rankings: Clippers hanging out in top five, Lakers quite a ways down

The Clippers are enjoying their time with the NBA's elite in the latest round of power rankings, while the Lakers continue to slide on down.

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers continue to head in different directions as the season progresses, with the Clippers edging up towards the top and the Lakers taking another fall in most NBA power rankings this week.

The Clippers have won six straight and sit atop the Pacific Division. The Lakers have dropped two straight and are 5.5 games behind the Clippers.

Seth Rosenthal of SB Nation raised the Clippers two spots up to No. 5, citing the deep bench that has allowed the team to rest its starters in the fourth quarter of every game during the win streak. He dropped the Lakers five spots down to No. 20 with questions about the defense of the team.

I believe that a healthy Steve Nash (if such a creature can exist at this point) might whip the offense into tip-top shape, but what of a defense that, after an OK start, has been woefully, hideously inefficient of late? Just repugnant. Can't see Nash fixing that one.

ESPN's Marc Stein raised the Clippers up one spot to No. 4 in his latest rankings, pointing out that the despite the ease of opponents during the win streak, the Clippers are doing what good teams should do against worse opposition. Stein dropped the Lakers three spots down to No. 15, writing that the last time people were this panicked about the team after 20 games was back in 2002-2003.

The panic, though, runs far deeper this time, because this star-laden construction has so many flaws and hasn't proved anything yet.

NBC Sports also put the Clippers within the top five at No. 4. The Lakers dropped two spots down to No. 16, with the site pointing out that the poor record is decreasing any chances for home court advantage for the playoffs. That's not good for a team only 2-6 on the road.

John Hollinger of ESPN had the Lakers crashing the rankings party the highest, all the way at No. 10, but they did drop two spots this week. The Clippers stood pat at No. 3 with a 107.314 rating, just barely ahead of the 107.301 rating for the New York Knicks.