NBA Power Rankings: Lakers working through Kobe Bryant's death; Trail Blazers red-hot; Raptors can't lose

The unspeakable tragedy that deeply affected every aspect of the NBA over the past week will stay with players and teams throughout the season, but somehow they managed to put a wonderful product on the court in the wake of Kobe Bryant's death. It was hard to keep it together, even as spectators, during the emotional tribute to Bryant before the Lakers' game against the Trail Blazers on Friday, but we saw the power of basketball when Damian Lillard's incredible 23-point third-quarter explosion distracted us, if even for a second, from the gravity of the night.

It wasn't Lillard's only tremendous performance, as he's put together one of the best stretches in the history of the NBA while helping to bring the Blazers back from the depths to make a playoff push. Speaking of tremendous performances, the Raptors have been unbeatable, literally, over the past few weeks, trying a franchise record with 11 straight wins.

With Thursday's trade deadline likely to shake things up for contenders and bottom dwellers alike, here are this week's NBA Power Rankings.

Biggest Movers
6 Trail Blazers
6 Jazz
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1 Bucks The Bucks defense allows teams to shoot the most 3-pointers in the NBA, so occasionally they get burned when a team gets hot. That's exactly what happened in their loss to the Nuggets, as Denver shot 22 of 46 from beyond the arc. Milwaukee came back to beat the Suns on Sunday, however, so there doesn't appear to be any cause for concern. Khris Middleton proved his All-Star worth by scoring 51 points against the Wizards with Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the lineup, and averaged 33.3 points, seven assists and 6.7 rebounds for the week while making 14-of-21 3-pointers. --49-8
2 Lakers It was obviously hard for the Lakers to concentrate on basketball this week, and head coach Frank Vogel talked about how strange the team's first game back after Kobe's death was. But they rebounded nicely from the loss to the Blazers and looked incredible in a win over the Kings, a possible sign that things might be starting to return to some semblance of normalcy. --43-12
3 Raptors Talk about scorching hot. The Raptors easily handled four inferior opponents this week to run their win streak to a franchise-record-tying 11 games. The offensive distribution has been incredible, with seven players averaging double-figures over the streak, including five over 16 points per game. They've had the third-best offensive rating and defensive rating in the NBA over the last 11 games, and now own the third-best record in the league. 342-15
4 Clippers The Clippers had their game against the Lakers postponed in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant's death, and then were run off the court by the Kings in their return to action on Thursday -- a game that Kawhi Leonard missed due to back issues. Kawhi returned on Saturday, however, and scored 31 or more points for the ninth straight game. Paul George made his return to the court, giving the Clippers a healthy squad for the first time in a while. They've now won seven of their last 10 games, and are within striking distance of the Lakers in the Western Conference. 138-19
5 Celtics Boston won all three games this week, including big ones over the Heat and 76ers. The Celtics dismantled Philly in a national TV showcase on Saturday, and they didn't even have Kemba Walker or Enes Kanter, and Gordon Hayward scored four points. This is a dangerous team no matter who's on the court, and they've now won six of their last seven. 439-17
6 Nuggets The Nuggets picked up big wins over the Bucks and Jazz this week, but also lost to the Grizzlies and undermanned Pistons. Nikola Jokic has been brilliant, while Jerami Grant and Monte Morris have both stepped up with the Nuggets' various injury problems. Grant has averaged 15 points and nearly three blocks per game over his last four, while Morris is putting up 12.3 points and 4.5 assists per game over the same stretch. 139-18
7 Heat Miami beat the Magic twice this week, but lost a home game to the Celtics without Jayson Tatum. Kendrick Nunn was out for two of the three games this week, including the loss to Boston, but Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro and even Dion Waiters stepped up in his absence. Dragic is averaging 16 points and five assists over his last three games. Newly-minted All-Star Bam Adebayo averaged 13.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and nearly two blocks and two steals per game for the week. 136-21
8 Rockets Russell Westbrook carried the Rockets through one of the worst shooting slumps of James Harden's career, and we knew it was only a matter of time before he broke out of it. Harden averaged 37.5 points on 13-of-29 3-point shooting in wins over the Mavericks and Pelicans to finish the week. He and Westbrook each averaged 31 points per game in a 3-1 week to get the Rockets back on track. Eric Gordon went off for a career-high 50 points with both Westbrook and Harden out of the lineup in a surprising win in Utah. 437-20
9 Pacers The Pacers should have had two wins this week, but they somehow lost to the Knicks on Saturday. Victor Oladipo will take a while to get back to full speed, but he hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer to send the Bulls game to overtime in his first game of the season, quickly re-endearing himself to the home crowd. 433-24
10 Jazz Mike Conley returned to a Jazz team that was absolutely rolling, and there were some expected speed bumps. Utah dropped all four games this week, to the Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets and Trail Blazers, and it's clear that Conley disrupted the flow they had developed over the past month. This doesn't mean the Jazz are a better team without Conley, but it's going to take some time to integrate him. He started against the Blazers and looked much better, putting up 22 points and four assists in 30 minutes. 636-21
11 76ers Bad losses to the Hawks and Celtics ended the week for the 76ers, after they beat the Warriors. Joel Embiid returned after a nine-game absence in which the team went 6-3. He looked solid in his first two games, nothing over 20 points and 10 rebounds in both games, but struggled mightily against the undersized Celtics, going 1 of 11 from the field with four turnovers. Brett Brown said he liked how Ben Simmons played off the ball when Embiid was out, and that he'll try to put him in similar situations moving forward when Embiid is off the court. 136-22
12 Mavericks Dallas was blown out by the Suns at home to start the week, then things got even worse when Luka Doncic injured his ankle in practice. He's expected to be out until at least Feb. 10 with an injury to the same ankle that caused him to miss time earlier this season. Kristaps Porzingis looked great as the No. 1 option in a loss to the Rockets, then the Mavs gritted out a big win over the Hawks without Doncic and Porzingis on Saturday. Jalen Brunson filled in nicely for Doncic when he was hurt before, and it looks like he's up to the task this time around as well, putting up 27 points and eight assists in just 27 minutes in the win over the Hawks. 135-23
13 Thunder The Thunder lost to the Mavs to kick off the week, then beat the Kings and Suns on the road. Dennis Schroder has averaged 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds on 45 percent 3-point shooting over his last three games -- a nice showcase if OKC is interested in entertaining trade offers as Thursday's deadline nears. --35-22
14 Trail Blazers There are simply no adjectives to describe what Damian Lillard is doing right now. Over his last six games he's averaging 48.8(!) points, 10.2 assists, and 7.2 rebounds. He's also made over eight 3-pointers per game over that stretch on a ridiculous 57 percent shooting from beyond the arc -- many of them WAY beyond the arc. Most importantly, the Blazers have won five of those six games and are suddenly just a game and a half back of the final Western Conference playoff spot. In case anyone had forgotten, Lillard is proving once again that he is a special, special player. 626-32
15 Grizzlies The Grizz opened the week with a big win over the Nuggets, then beat the Knicks before getting blown out by the Pelicans without Jaren Jackson Jr. or Brandon Clarke. Memphis continues to prove it's for real as it creeps closer to .500, and those expecting it to fade from the playoff race after the All-Star break might be sorely disappointed. 128-29
16 Spurs The Spurs lost to the Bulls to start the week, but bounced back with wins over the Jazz and Hornets. San Antonio has a top-10 defensive rating over the past five games, a good sign for a team that's been poor on that end all season long. DeMar DeRozan has continued his incredible scoring tear, averaging 32.7 points on 58 percent field goal shooting for the week. 124-32
17 Pelicans With Zion Williamson slowly amping up his minutes, the Pelicans won two of three games this week, with their loss coming to the Rockets on national TV on Sunday. Williamson has not disappointed, averaging 19.5 points and 8.2 rebounds on 61.5 percent shooting over his first six NBA games, during which New Orleans has gone 3-3. All-Star Brandon Ingram has continued to thrive even with Williamson in the lineup, averaging 24 points on 50 percent 3-point shooting for the week. 125-32
18 Nets Kyrie Irving put up the best true shooting percentage in a 50-point game in NBA history while dropping 54 on the Bulls on Friday, but then injured his knee on Saturday after getting tangled up with Bradley Beal on a rebound attempt. He's expected to miss at least a week with a knee sprain, but the Nets are well prepared to handle his absence. Spencer Dinwiddie, who's been playing well alongside Irving (he's shooting 40 percent 3-pointers with Irving on the court, and 29 percent with Irving off), will once again run the show offensively. 126-30
19 Suns A big win over the Mavericks started the week for the Suns, but then they lost to the Thunder and Bucks. They're 4-6 over their last 10 games, and are losing ground on the Grizzlies, Blazers and Spurs for the final playoff spot out West. Phoenix has the ninth-best defensive rating in the NBA over the past 10 games, but it has struggled to put the ball in the basket outside of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. 124-34
20 Magic The Magic played the Heat in both games this week, losing twice in contests that weren't very competitive. They've now lost four in a row, though their position in one of the final two East playoff spots looks secure for the time being. It will be interesting to see if Aaron Gordon is still a member of the Magic by the time the trade deadline expires. 325-32
21 Kings The Kings beat the Wolves and Clippers this week, with losses to the Thunder and Lakers. They've inserted Bogdan Bogdanovic into the starting lineup and shifted Buddy Hield to the bench, and Hield has absolutely thrived. He's averaging 23.4 points on 49 percent 3-point shooting since moving to a sixth man role. The frontcourt injuries have been rough, with Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley out for extended time, but Dewayne Dedmon and Nemanja Bjelica have given them solid minutes. --23-33
22 Wizards Bradley Beal was upset about not being selected to the All-Star Game, and he took it out on the Hornets and Nets following the announcement, averaging 34 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals and two blocks in those games. Thomas Bryant has also played well since his minutes have increased following a foot injury, averaging 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in a 2-1 week. 220-36
23 Bulls The Bulls went 1-3 this week, continuing to struggle with Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio getting the bulk of the center minutes due to injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen. Chicago's defense has been good all season, but it is second-to-last in the league over its last four games with a 121.2 defensive rating. Coupled with the Bulls' struggling offense (27th in the NBA for the season), that's a recipe for a lot of losses. 120-38
24 Pistons It was looking like an 0-4 week for the Pistons, but they pulled off a miraculous overtime victory against the Nuggets on Sunday, even with Derrick Rose leaving the game after 13 minutes with a groin injury. Reggie Jackson has played well since returning to the lineup after a lengthy absence, averaging 17.2 points and 4.2 assists on 44 percent 3-point shooting in just over 26 minutes per game. The real question is whether the Pistons will move Rose and/or Andre Drummond before Thursday's trade deadline. 119-40
25 Hawks Atlanta picked up a big home win over the 76ers -- a game in which Trae Young put up 39 points and 18 assists -- but then got blown out by a Mavericks squad without Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on Saturday. Young exited that game early with a right ankle sprain, which is the last thing the Hawks need right now. They are playing better despite the inconsistency, however, as they've gone 5-5 over their last 10 games. --17-42
26 Hornets Charlotte beat the Knicks before losing to the Wizards and Spurs to close out the week. Devonte' Graham is in a major shooting slump, averaging just eight points on 25 percent field goals over his last three games. On the positive side, Miles Bridges had a strong week, averaging 21 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the 3-point line. The Hornets are 1-9 over their last 10 games. --19-37
27 Knicks The Knicks lost to the Hornets and Grizzlies to start the week, but surprisingly beat the Pacers on Saturday in a low-scoring affair. New York was without Elfrid Payton, so they dusted off Dennis Smith Jr. for 27 minutes, while Julius Randle banged with the Pacers' big men for 16 points and 18 rebounds. The Knicks have some coveted pieces in Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock, so we'll see what they do at the deadline to try to improve their squad for the future. 117-40
28 Warriors The Warriors finally found a team they can beat, pounding the Cavs in Cleveland on Saturday. Before that, they had expected losses to the 76ers and Celtics. Steve Kerr's squad continues to play hard, and Draymond Green has awakened from his slumber recently, averaging 11.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds over the teams' last four games. 112-45
29 Cavaliers After beating the Pistons to start the week, the Cavs have lost three straight games, including an embarrassing blowout home loss to the Warriors on Saturday. There seems to be little traction on a Kevin Love deal, but these things sometimes materialize as the deadline draws near. Larry Nance Jr. has stepped up his production of late, averaging 14 points and 8.3 rebounds over his last three games. 116-41
30 Timberwolves We know the Wolves have lost 11 straight, but did you know that they haven't won a game with Karl-Anthony Towns in the lineup since November? They've lost their last 15 games with Towns, not the results you'd like to see from your franchise cornerstone. They're in the bottom five in both offense and defense over the 11-game losing streak, and it's clear things aren't working in Minnesota. With Robert Covington such a sought-after commodity, moving him before the deadline might be the shake-up they need. 316-40
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