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NBA Power Rankings: Jazz reclaim top spot from Nets; Nuggets clicking with Aaron Gordon; Heat streaking again – CBS Sports

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We’re still six weeks away from the start of the postseason, but the haves and have-nots of the NBA are already starting to clearly separate themselves. On Saturday alone, three teams — the Utah Jazz, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers — won by at least 44 points. Forty. Four. Points! The teams they beat — the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder — are clearly playing for ping pong balls for the rest of the season, which means that results like this could become more common until the end of May.

Including their lambasting of the Magic in which they made NBA history, the Jazz have now won nine straight games and reclaim the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings from the Brooklyn Nets, who lost on Sunday without James Harden and Kevin Durant. Right behind them are the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets, who both had perfect weeks and look to be firing on all cylinders.

The biggest riser of the week are the up-and-down Miami Heat, who have alternated lengthy winning streaks and losing streaks over the past month. The Knicks are among the biggest fallers despite the big win over Detroit, while they remain in playoff position with a .500 record. Here are this week’s NBA Power Rankings.

*Keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team’s performance the previous week, not the entire season.

Biggest Movers
 

1


Jazz

The Jazz had no problem with a soft stretch in their schedule this week, beating the Cavs, Grizzlies, Bulls and Magic to extend their winning streak to nine games. Utah set an NBA record with 18 first-half 3-pointers in a 46-point lambasting of the Magic on Saturday. Donovan Mitchell missed Wednesday’s win in Memphis to collect himself after Utah’s terrifying plane experience, but averaged 22.3 points on 52 percent 3-point shooting in the other three games. 1 38-11

2


Nets

Not having their star players finally caught up to the Nets in Sunday’s loss to the Bulls, but that was their only blemish of the week. LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 11 points and six rebounds in his first two games with Brooklyn, while Kyrie Irving put up 24.3 points and 9.5 assists per game this week, the last two games without James Harden. Not much to worry about for the Nets right now, with Kevin Durant reportedly nearing a return. 1 34-16

3


Suns

The Suns beat the Hawks, Bulls and Thunder this week as they hold onto that No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. Devin Booker continued to scorch the nets, averaging 32.7 points on 41 percent 3-point shooting this week, and Dario Saric stepped up with 15.7 points per game on 54 percent 3-point shooting in just 18.5 minutes per game. The Suns don’t get a lot of headlines, but they’re quietly going about their business and winning a lot of games. 3 34-14

4


Nuggets

The Nuggets won all three games this week, and they still haven’t lost since Aaron Gordon joined the team. Their win over the Clippers on Thursday sent a message that their new-look lineup is going to be a nightmare for playoff opponents. Gordon averaged 14.7 points this week on 63 percent shooting, as he continues to get great looks in the flow of the offense. Nikola Jokic only averaged 17 points per game this week and Denver put up 114.5 points per 100 possessions, which is terrifying. The new starting lineup of Jokic, Gordon, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray has been a monster on both sides with an absurd plus-33.9 net rating in 90 minutes so far. 3 31-18

5


Bucks

After losing to the Clippers on Monday, the Bucks won three straight games to close out the week, including an impressive effort in Sacramento on Saturday with Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the lineup the night after he tied a season high with 47 points in a win over the Blazers. Jrue Holiday has been phenomenal of late, averaging 26.8 points and 8.5 assists this week on 46 percent 3-point shooting, and the Bucks locked him up with a max extension as a reward. 2 32-17

6


Clippers

The Clippers had an impressive win on Monday over the Bucks without Paul George, but followed that up with an inexcusable loss to the depleted Magic. George returned for a loss to the Nuggets, one of the more entertaining games of the season, and Sunday’s blowout win over the Lakers. Kawhi Leonard averaged 23.5 points, nine rebounds and 6.3 assists for the week, while Marcus Morris shot 56 percent from deep en route to 18.3 points per game. 2 33-18

7


76ers

The Sixers went 2-2 this week, but the big news was Joel Embiid making his return to the court in Saturday’s win over the Timberwolves, in which he put up 24 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. He sat out Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies since it was a back-to-back, but Philadelphia has to be extremely excited about what they saw from Embiid in his first game back after a three-week absence. 2 34-16

8


Mavericks

After losing two straight, the Mavericks rattled off four consecutive wins this week and have now won seven of their last 10. Luka Doncic had 36 points in the Mavs’ biggest win of the week in Boston, and averaged 28.3 points for the week on 41 percent 3-point shooting. Jalen Brunson continued his phenomenal season off the bench, putting up 16 points and 4.5 assists on 40 percent 3-point shooting during the win streak. 2 27-21

9


Trail Blazers

The Blazers walloped the Pistons and Thunder this week, but could do nothing to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo in Friday’s loss to the Bucks. Finally relatively healthy, Portland has now won five of six games with Damian Lillard leading the way. He averaged 27 points and seven assists on 13-of-24 3-point shooting this week, while CJ McCollum added 20.7 points per game on 46 percent 3-point shooting. 1 30-19

10


Lakers

The Lakers were simply outmanned by the Bucks and Clippers this week, but give them credit for a solid victory against the Kings in between. Andre Drummond made his much-anticipated Lakers debut against Milwaukee, but promptly exited with a toe injury that forced him to miss the next two games. It could be tough sledding for the Lakers in the coming weeks, as they embark on a five-game East Coast road trip with LeBron James and Anthony Davis still on the shelf. 1 31-19

11


Heat

The roller coaster season continues for the Heat, who won four straight this week after six consecutive losses. They played four struggling offenses, but the defense was notable nonetheless, allowing just 101.3 points per 100 possessions. Victor Oladipo played in his first two games with Miami this week, and his modest stats (seven points, five assists in 26 minutes per game) don’t indicate the impact he’s already had on both sides of the ball. Duncan Robinson caught fire this week, averaging 18.3 points per game while going 20 for 40 from 3-point range. 9 26-24

12


Celtics

Boston started off the week with losses to the Pelicans and Mavericks, then beat up on the Rockets and short-handed Hornets. After going 0 for 10 from the field in his Celtics debut, Evan Fournier has averaged 15.3 points on 11-for-18 3-point shooting in his last three games. Jayson Tatum put up 26.8 points and 8.8 rebounds this week, while Jaylen Brown added 21 points per game on 48 percent 3-point shooting in the three games he played. 1 25-25

13


Hawks

After losing four of five games, the Hawks turned things around with three straight wins to finish the week. Bogdan Bogdanovic stepped up with multiple players out due to injury, averaging 21.5 points and 5.8 assists per game this week on 57 percent 3-point shooting. Lou Williams got off to a great start with Atlanta after being traded from the Clippers, averaging 13.7 points and five assists in his first three games with the team. 3 26-24

14


Hornets

More devastating news for the Hornets this week as Gordon Hayward is expected to miss at least a month with a foot sprain. He joins LaMelo Ball on the injured list, taking away the majority of their playmaking and much of their 3-point shooting. Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham will have to step up even more, and it will mean more time for Miles Bridges, who averaged 12.8 points this week on 47 percent 3-point shooting. 2 25-24

15


Grizzlies

It was a good week for the Grizzlies, who went 3-1 with wins over the Rockets, Wolves and 76ers. Jonas Valanciunas was dominant inside, averaging 20.3 points and 13 rebounds, while Ja Morant put up 16.3 points per game on 43 percent 3-point shooting. The Grizzlies have used a democratic approach on offense all season, spreading out the scoring between multiple players, and it was effective this week. 3 24-23

16


Spurs

The Spurs split with the Kings to start the week, then dropped consecutive overtime games to the Hawks and Pacers. That’s now seven losses in nine games for San Antonio, as it continues to drop in the Western Conference standings. Derrick White had a strong week, averaging 21 points on 37 percent 3-pointers, while DeMar DeRozan paced the team with 26 points and 7.5 assists per game. 3 24-23

17


Pelicans

The Pelicans picked up a big win in Boston on Monday, but then were struck by the injury bug as Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram each missed the team’s next three games. They also lost Josh Hart for a significant period of time, leaving Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Eric Bledsoe to pick up the slack. Lonzo Ball made his return on Sunday in grand fashion, scoring 27 points and dishing out nine assists, while James Johnson — a salary-filler in the JJ Redick deal — has performed brilliantly in the absence of Williamson and Ingram, averaging 17 points and 2.3 blocks per game this week on 7-for-14 3-point shooting. 22-27

18


Knicks

The Knicks struggled to put points on the board in three straight losses to start the week, then took out their frustrations on the Pistons in a 44-point drubbing on Saturday. RJ Barrett saw a drop-off in production this week, averaging 13.3 points after a hot stretch, and Julius Randle added 21.5 points, nine rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. 4 25-25

19


Pacers

The Pacers’ only win of the week was the one they were most expected to lose — Saturday’s overtime victory against the Spurs without Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, which was preceded by losses to the Wizards, Heat and Hornets. Seven Pacers scored in double figures in the win in San Antonio, led by 26 points and nine assists from Caris LeVert. TJ McConnell averaged 12.3 points and 7.3 assists for the week off the bench. 4 22-26

20


Kings

The Kings ran their winning streak to five with a victory over the Spurs on Monday, but then lost three straight, including home games against the shorthanded Lakers and Bucks. De’Aaron Fox hit a rough patch, shooting just 39 percent from the field for the week, after outstanding play during the winning streak. Sacramento had seven players average double figures for the week, including newcomer Delon Wright, who put up 10.3 points in 21 minutes per game off the bench. 1 22-28

21


Warriors

The Warriors beat the Bulls to start the week, but then lost three straight, including a 53-point demolition at the hands of the Raptors, who haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire themselves. Steph Curry and Draymond Green missed the Toronto game, but you’d still like to see a little more fight from the group on the court. Curry has been visibly struggling with his tailbone injury, but still put up 35 points per game this week on 38 percent 3-point shooting. Andrew Wiggins has played well, too, averaging 18.8 points on 46 percent 3-point shooting in the four games, but overall the Warriors defense has betrayed them of late. 23-27

22


Bulls

The Bulls snapped their six-game skid — their first win with Nikola Vucevic — with a solid victory over the short-handed Nets on Sunday. Vucevic averaged 20.8 points and 10 rebounds for the week, while Zach LaVine averaged 20 points in the three games that he played. As expected, the Bulls have struggled defensively since adding Vucevic, and Lauri Markkanen will have to adjust to his new role off the bench. 1 20-28

23


Magic

Orlando defied the odds by winning road games against the Clippers and Pelicans to start the week, then came back to Earth in losses to the Jazz and Nuggets. The Magic youngsters will get all the run they can handle for the rest of the season, and Wendell Carter Jr. has already showed promise after coming over from the Bulls, averaging 16.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this week. Intriguing rookie RJ Hampton scored a career-high 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting in Sunday’s loss to Denver. 3 17-33

24


Thunder

The Thunder are trotting out a younger lineup than some college teams and the losses are following accordingly, but they did manage to beat the Raptors this week before losing by 37 and 48 points, respectively, to the Suns and Blazers. As long as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort are out of the lineup, it will be a struggle on both ends for OKC, but the goal for this team is clearly to secure as many lottery balls as possible while developing young players like Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon, who each averaged 16.3 points per game this week. 1 20-29

25


Raptors

The Raptors lost to two of the worst teams in the league, the Pistons and Thunder, then obliterated a Warriors squad without Steph Curry or Draymond Green. That’s now 16 losses in Toronto’s last 19 games, as it just hasn’t been able to get any rhythm in the second half of the season. Gary Trent Jr. has made a big impression since coming over in the Norm Powell deal, averaging 23.3 points on 15-for-27 3-pointers in three games this week. 1 19-30

26


Cavaliers

Navigating a rough part of the schedule, the Cavs were blown out by the Jazz, 76ers and Heat this week. The silver lining is that Kevin Love returned for two of the three games, averaging 11.5 points, seven rebounds and three assists in just over 20 minutes per game. Isaiah Hartenstein has also been solid in Jarrett Allen’s absence, averaging 8.7 points, eight rebounds and 1.3 blocks this week. 4 17-32

27


Pistons

None of Detroit’s games this week were particularly close, but it was on the winning side of two of them behind a very deep rotation of mostly young players. Hamidou Diallo has made a splash since coming over from OKC, averaging 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds on 56 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week. The Pistons averaged 119 points in their two wins this week, impressive considering Jerami Grant only scored 19 total points in those games. 3 14-35

28


Wizards

The Wizards went 1-3 this week without Bradley Beal, with their win coming against the Pacers. Russell Westbrook averaged 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 13 assists for the week, while Rui Hachimura put up 22 points per game before being forced to miss Saturday’s loss to the Mavericks with a shoulder injury. 1 17-31

29


Timberwolves

The Wolves went 1-3 this week, with their only victory coming against the Knicks on Malik Beasley’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds left — though they certainly made things interesting with a couple of late turnovers. Karl-Anthony Towns was a beast, averaging 29.5 points, 14.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game this week, while Anthony Edwards added 24 points per game on 49 percent shooting. Fellow rookie Jaden McDaniels is also starting to open some eyes with added opportunity, putting up 13 points and 5.5 rebounds on 48 percent 3-point shooting for the week. 12-38

30


Rockets

The Rockets snapped their 20-game losing streak last week, but they’ve dropped six of seven since then, including four more this week. As John Wall continues to go in and out of the lineup, Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. have struggled as the team’s primary scorers and playmakers, with each shooting less than 40 percent from the field this week. One bright spot has been Kelly Olynyk, who averaged 18.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in the four losses this week after coming over from the Heat. 2 13-36

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