2012 NBA power rankings: Knicks, Nets drop following lackluster performances

USA TODAY Sports

After starting off the year strong, Brooklyn and New York have hit the skids a bit in recent days.

At the start of the season, it appeared the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets would be two of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. While they've both had their moments this season, both teams struggled a bit the past week. As power rankings were released across the league on Monday, both the Knicks and Nets saw themselves drop a spot or two.

Marc Stein of ESPN has the Knicks seventh in his rankings, which is down slightly from last week. Stein notes the Knicks' injury concerns in the blurb below:

"Who knew that the Knicks would be so banged up by the time Amar'e Stoudemire was finally ready to return that there's almost a clamor now to get him back in there and see how it all snaps together. P.S. -- Something tells me Raymond Felton's absence will a bigger issue than we think."

As for the Nets, Stein ranks them 18th, which is one spot down from last Monday.

As for John Schumann of NBA.com, he thinks slightly more of the two teams from the New York area. He dropped the Knicks from four to five in his latest rankings, and has the Nets at 16 a week after firing head coach Avery Johnson. Here is what Schumann had to say of Brooklyn:

"More important than the coaching change was the re-emergence of Brook Lopez as the Nets' offensive fulcrum. Lopez totaled 61 points and 22 rebounds in wins over Charlotte and Cleveland over the weekend. Brooklyn is now 7-3 when Lopez scores 20 points or more, and they're scoring an efficient 107.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. If they have an All-Star, he's it."

As of Monday, Dec. 31, the Knicks have a 21-9 record. The Nets are at 16-14.

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