Power Rankings: Nuggets, Hawks rise into top 5

Updated: January 20, 2010, 10:49 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com
Monday, Jan. 18

A lot changed Christmas Day when the Cleveland Cavaliers went to Staples Center and toppled the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Cavs have been the top team in ESPN.com's NBA Power Rankings ever since -- four Mondays in a row -- while LeBron James also has been established as the favorite to repeat as league MVP.

Thursday's Lakers-Cavs rematch in Cleveland would have been a big deal anyway, but the gap these teams have opened on the rest of the league only adds to the occasion. It's also the first game of an eight-game trip for the Lakers that will keep them on the road for 13 consecutive nights.

Boston and Orlando were expected to be up there with Cleveland and L.A. all season, but the shared recent struggles of the Celtics and Magic have enabled Denver (No. 10 to No. 3) and Atlanta (No. 9 to No. 4) to make significant jumps this week. Two of the hottest teams outside of the top 10 -- Charlotte (No. 19 to No. 11) and Memphis (No. 16 to No. 12) -- have also risen to unusually lofty territory.

Click here to rank the teams yourself, or click here to comment on these rankings.

Tune in Tuesdays to "NBA Fastbreak" on ESPN to see the week's U.S. Army Power Rankings.

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