NBA Power Rankings: Lakers move up; Raptors, Celtics have streaks snapped; Clippers fall after losses
There was plenty of movement in this week's NBA power structure despite teams playing only one or two games
It was a short week in the NBA, but that doesn't mean there wasn't shuffling in this week's Power Rankings. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics both saw long winning streaks snapped, while the Milwaukee Bucks suffered a rare loss in the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
On the other side of the coin, the Lakers picked up two wins to move back into the No. 2 spot that they've occupied for most of the season behind Milwaukee. Meanwhile their Staples Center roommates, the Los Angeles Clippers, dropped in the rankings due to consecutive losses. Here's a look at the Power Rankings as we head into the post-All-Star break NBA world.
|1||Bucks||Giannis Antetokounmpo missed both games this week due to the birth of his first child, and the Bucks split games with the Kings and Pacers. Picking up their eighth loss means they're probably not going to catch the 73-9 Warriors this season, but they're still the class of the league by pretty much every factor.||--||53-12|
|2||Lakers||The Lakers beat the Suns to start the week, then picked up an exciting overtime road victory against the Nuggets, who were hot on the Lakers' heels for the No. 1 seed in the West. LeBron James and Anthony Davis proved that their two-man show can overwhelm even the deepest of teams, which bodes well for playoff success.||1||49-14|
|3||Raptors||All good things must come to an end, and the Raptors saw their 15-game winning streak snapped with a loss to Brooklyn in the final game before the All-Star break. Toronto is now 2-6 in games where they score fewer than 100 points so the book is out: Don't let the Raptors score, and you have a better chance of beating them! Quite an enlightening concept.||1||46-18|
|4||Celtics||The Celtics saw their own seven-game winning streak come to an end with a loss to the Rockets, but they bounced back with a thrilling double-overtime win over the Clippers in the last game before the All-Star break. Jayson Tatum put on a signature performance, dropping 39 points and coming up huge down the stretch. Boston is now firmly in the No. 3 spot in the East, one game behind the Raptors in the loss column.||--||43-21|
|5||Nuggets||Denver beat the Spurs before falling to the Lakers in overtime, despite 32 points and 10 assists from Jamal Murray, who has been excellent since his return from an ankle injury. Nikola Jokic nearly averaged a triple-double in the two games while shooting 58 percent from the field.||--||43-22|
|6||Jazz||Utah beat the Mavericks without Luka Doncic, then picked up a big victory over the Heat before the All-Star break. The Jazz have now won four games in a row, and are just one game back of Denver in the loss column for the No. 2 seed in the West. Jordan Clarkson is proving to be quite the acquisition for the Jazz -- he averaged 23 points, 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in the two wins this week.||2||41-23|
|7||Rockets||Viva la smallball! The Rockets only had one game this week, but beat the Celtics, who don't exactly have an inside presence to punish the smaller Rockets lineups and like to play small themselves. James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 78 of Houston's 116 points in the win.||--||40-24|
|8||76ers||The Sixers won their only game of the week at home against the Clippers, with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons putting up 26 points each in the win. But it was Josh Richardson who really impressed, scoring 21 points while hitting some huge clutch shots. If they can get consistent production from him and Tobias Harris, they could gain some momentum heading into the playoffs.||2||39-26|
|9||Clippers||The Clippers lost road games to the 76ers and Celtics this week, and they still seem far from the finished product that many expect to contend for a title this season. Paul George struggled mightily from the field against the Sixers, going 3 for 15, then re-aggravated his hamstring injury against the Celtics, missing the final two quarters and overtime periods. The Clippers surely think they'll be fine once they have a full roster, but it would be nice to see it for more than a handful of games before the playoffs start.||3||44-20|
|10||Heat||The Heat beat the Warriors in Andre Iguodala's return to the Bay, then lost to the Jazz to close out the week. Jae Crowder has been phenomenal since joining Miami, averaging 18 points and 7.3 rebounds on 12-for-20 3-point shooting in three games. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he knew Crowder was their type of player since he saw him playing for the Celtics.||1||41-24|
|11||Thunder||The Thunder lost to the Spurs at home before beating the Pelicans on the road this week, and they now have the same record as the Mavericks and are just two games behind the Rockets in the loss column. They elected to hang onto Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder at the trade deadine, which should make them a dangerous playoff team.||--||40-24|
|12||Mavericks||The Mavs lost to the Jazz, but were incredibly relieved to see a happy and healthy Luka Doncic in their last game before the All-Star break. Doncic put up 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in his first game back from an ankle injury, showing absolutely no ill effects.||--||40-27|
|13||Pacers||The Pacers finally won a game in February, snapping a six-game losing streak with a win over the Bucks. Sure, Milwaukee didn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Indiana will take every win it can get at this point. Victor Oladipo has yet to hit his stride since returning to the court from a year-long absence, and the team has struggled to adjust. It should only get better as Oladipo continues to improve.||--||39-26|
|14||Grizzlies||The Grizzlies won their only game this week, a big one over the Trail Blazers, who are chasing them for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The world got to see Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke on the national stage in the Rising Stars game, so a few more people know just how exciting this young core is.||--||32-33|
|15||Nets||The Nets continue to add fodder to the anti-Kyrie Irving crowd, with two more quality wins without their starting point guard. They beat the Pacers by one in Indiana, then ended the Raptors' 15-game winning streak at home. They've really been spreading the wealth offensively, with seven players averaging nine points or more over the past week.||2||30-34|
|16||Pelicans||The Pelicans beat the Blazers before losing to the Thunder in the last game before the break, with Zion Williamson setting a new career-high in each game. He scored 31 with nine rebounds against Portland, and followed that up with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting in the loss to OKC. As he continues to acclimate to the NBA game, the Pelicans already look like a dangerous team for the rest of the season.||--||28-36|
|17||Trail Blazers||The Blazers lost both games this week, including an important one to the Grizzlies to fall further behind in the race for the No. 8 seed out West. On top of that, Damian Lillard left Wednesday's loss to Memphis with a groin injury. Obviously Lillard is essential to Portland's success, so let's hope he has a speedy recovery.||2||29-37|
|18||Magic||The Magic beat the Hawks, then needed overtime to beat the Pistons -- but hey, wins are wins. Aaron Gordon -- who may or may not have been robbed in the dunk contest over the weekend -- averaged 25.5 points, nine rebounds and 6.5 assists in the two wins. It would be great for the Magic if he can be more consisent after the All-Star break.||3||30-35|
|19||Spurs||The Spurs lost to the Nuggets to start the week, but picked up a good win against the Thunder the following night. LaMarcus Aldridge came alive, scoring 33 points against Denver and putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds in the win at OKC. The Spurs are now five games back of the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot out West.||--||27-36|
|20||Suns||Phoenix was blown out by the Lakers and then beat the lowly Warriors this week. The Suns finally got Devin Booker into the All-Star Game, albeit because of a Damian Lillard injury. Mikal Bridges had a great week, averaging 16 points, two blocks and a steal in the two games.||--||26-39|
|21||Wizards||The Wizards beat the Bulls and the Knicks this week, with Bradley Beal averaging 30 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. Rui Hachimura has also been good since returning from injury, averaging 14 points and 4.5 rebounds over the two games this week. Despite their struggles, the Wizards are just three games behind the Magic for the final East playoff spot.||1||24-40|
|22||Kings||Buddy Hield winning the 3-Point Contest was easily the best part of the Kings' week, as they lost handily to the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo and then the Mavericks in Luka Doncic's return game. Things look bleak for Sacramento, as Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes don't look close to a return to the court with the team sitting seven games out of the final playoff spot.||4||28-36|
|23||Hornets||Charlotte beat two of the worst teams in the league this week in the Pistons and Timberwolves, but it's great for the Hornets to get road wins, no matter the opponent. Malik Monk stepped up with Terry Rozier missing the Wolves game, scoring 25 points in the win. After buyouts with Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets will be fully devoted to the youth movement.||5||23-42|
|24||Bulls||Chicago hosted a great All-Star Weekend, but things didn't go so well before that. The Bulls lost their only game of the week to the Wizards, despite Zach LaVine dropping 41 points on 8-for-11 3-point shooting. The Bulls are now five games back of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.||1||22-43|
|25||Knicks||The Knicks were blown out by the Wizards in their only game this week, and have now lost two straight following a modest four-game winning streak. Julius Randle had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the loss to Washington, and figures to be the main source of offense with Marcus Morris traded to the Clippers.||--||21-45|
|26||Pistons||There's probably not a whole lot more winning in the Pistons' future after dealing Andre Drummond at the trade deadline. They lost both games this week, to the Hornets and Magic, but at least forced overtime against Orlando. Detroit will get a good look at Christian Wood, a per-minute stat monster, for the rest of the season. He averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds on 57 percent shooting in the two losses this week.||--||20-46|
|27||Cavaliers||Hey look, an undefeated week for the Cavs! They beat the Hawks in their only game, but that was followed by news that head coach John Beilein may be on the outs as soon as this week. There has seemed to be a disconnect between the coach and his players all season long, but it's still pretty shocking to see a coach on the hot seat just a few months after signing his contract. With Beilein or someone else, the Cavs are bound for a high lottery pick.||3||19-46|
|28||Timberwolves||The Wolves' big win over the Clippers last week didn't carry over, as they dropped games to the Raptors and Hornets this week. D'Angelo Russell averaged 24 points and eight assists on 47 percent 3-point shooting in the two games, but the Raptors went after him relentlessly on the defensive end to help seal the game. He and Karl-Anthony Towns will look to build on-court chemistry for the rest of the season.||1||19-45|
|29||Hawks||The Hawks had a rough couple of games this week, losing to the Magic and Cavs. Atlanta can at least look forward to the eventual return of newly acquired Clint Capela, who could help shore up their 28th-ranked defense as they build toward next season. Trae Young also made his first All-Star Game appearance on Sunday and represented the team well.||5||20-47|
|30||Warriors||The Warriors lost to the Heat after honoring Andre Iguodala before the game, then lost to the Suns to close out the pre-All-Star break excitement. Golden State will be rotating a series of G League players and 10-day contracts for the rest of the season, so don't expect too many more wins. Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and had four blocks in the loss to the Suns.||1||15-50|
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