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NBA Power Rankings 2012: The No. 8 Mavericks Look To Continue Their Winning Ways

The Dallas Mavericks have strung together two consecutive wins over some of the better Western Conference teams in the Spurs and the Jazz, and at 13-8 Rick Carlisle has his basketball team atop the Southwest Division amidst injuries and chemistry issues.

Now, Dirk Nowitzki's finally back.

"It’s coming back," Dirk said of his knee and leg strength. "Still had some swelling this week though, but the workload was a lot. I lifted a lot, I mostly had two-a-days on the court a lot, we tried to really push myself. Still had a little swelling, but I think it’s going to be OK. My legs are getting stronger, my base is getting stronger, so just got to keep on working."

The Mavericks emerge at No. 8 on Tom Ziller's Power Rankings this week:

8. Dallas Mavericks 13-8 W: PHX, UTA, SA; L: MIN Mavs Moneyball
The Mavericks are not just in the playoff chase in the West, but could join the Nuggets and Clippers as teams poised to break away from the big pack. Lately, the Mavericks have looked better than teams like the Lakers and Jazz, and a big comeback against the Spurs on Sunday was a nice cap on the week.

The Mavericks will prepare to face the No. 21 ranked Phoenix Suns on Monday night and with a win will push their lead in the Southwest division by 1.5 games over Houston.

For the latest news and notes on the Mavericks, head over to Mavs Moneyball, while Bright Side Of The Sun has you covered for everything you wanted to know about one of Dallas' oldest rivals.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.