The 76ers remained at No. 10 in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings despite two losses this past week, including Wednesday’s 108-94 defeat at Cleveland. The other loss was Sunday’s 136-130 setback at the Los Angeles Clippers in a game in which the Sixers distinguished themselves in defeat, playing without injured Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and losing Josh Richardson to injury in the second quarter.
Poor weeks by No. 11 Utah and No. 12 Miami kept the Sixers at No. 10.
The Milwaukee Bucks are in the top spot for the seventh consecutive week. Milwaukee has won six in a row.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who beat New Orleans twice, sandwiched around a loss to Memphis, remained No. 2. Sunday’s win over New Orleans came without injured Anthony Davis. The Lakers are 6-2 when Davis hasn’t played this season.
The drumbeat for LeBron James’ being in the NBA’s MVP race is getting louder, even though reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo remains the favorite.
No. 3 Houston is winning with small ball, having earned six consecutive wins. Russell Westbrook is really hitting a comfort zone in his first season in Houston. In his last seven games, Westbrook is averaging 35 points and shooting 43.8% from three-point range.
The Clippers, who won their fourth in a row Sunday over the Sixers, are starting to round into form and move up to No. 4. Friday’s 132-103 win over visiting Denver was among the Clippers’ most impressive victories of the season. The Clippers are 8-0 when they have their entire lineup.
No. 5 Boston’s lone loss last week was Saturday’s overtime home defeat to Houston. All-Star Jayson Tatum is averaging 31.5 points in the last 10 games. Oklahoma City saw its five-game win streak snapped with Saturday’s 133-86 rout at Milwaukee, but remained at No. 7.
Indiana has regained its footing with three wins in a row and five of six, moving back in the top 10 at No. 8. Unlike the Sixers, Indiana won at Cleveland last week, vaulting the Pacers one spot ahead of the Sixers.
Toronto fell from No. 3 to No. 9 after losing three games this past week, including a home game against Charlotte.
Teams records are through Sunday, with last week’s rankings in parentheses.
1. Milwaukee 52-8 (1)
2. Los Angeles Lakers 46-13 (2)
3. Houston 39-20 (4)
4. Los Angeles Clippers 41-19 (8)
5. Boston 41-18 (6)
6. Denver 41-19 (5)
7. Oklahoma City 37-23 (7)
8. Indiana 36-24 (12)
9. Toronto 42-18 (3)
10. Sixers 37-24 (10)
Is any team streakier than Utah? The Jazz won 14 of 15 then lost five in a row, before winning four in a row and then losing another four consecutive games before beating Washington at home Friday. The Jazz could be a contender in the Western Conference, but have to be more consistent.
Miami went 2-2, losing to Cleveland and Minnesota. The 125-119 overtime loss at Cleveland came after the Heat entered the fourth quarter with a 19-point lead.
Memphis is still holding onto that final playoff spot in the West, but the Grizzlies just ended a five-game losing streak with a 105-88 home win Saturday over the Los Angeles Lakers. Ja Morant had 27 points and 14 assists against the Lakers. According to tankathon.com Memphis has the third-most-difficult remaining schedule.
Sacramento has quietly gotten to within three games of Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West. The Sixers will visit the Kings on Thursday.
Brooklyn is holding the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, but the Nets have lost four in a row, including three to teams with losing records.
11. Utah 37-22 (9)
12. Miami 38-22 (11)
13. Dallas 37-24 (13)
14. Memphis 29-31 (14)
15. Sacramento 26-34 (16)
16. New Orleans 26-34 (17)
17. Orlando 27-33 (21)
18. San Antonio 25-33 (18)
19. Brooklyn 26-33 (14)
20. Phoenix 24-37 (20)
Portland is falling out of the playoff race, having lost six of seven games, including four of five without injured All-Star Damian Lillard.
Atlanta is only 19-43, but the Hawks are 11-11 in their last 22 games. They played the Sixers tough for three quarters last week, leading by 92-91 entering the fourth before losing, 129-112. Trae Young has played in 20 of those 22 games and is averaging 31.4 points over that period.
Cleveland, which is 3-3 since J.B. Bickerstaff took over as coach, had wins over the Sixers and Miami last week.
21. Portland 26-35 (19)
22. Charlotte 21-39 (22)
23. Washington 21-37 (24)
24. Atlanta 19-43 (25)
25. Chicago 20-40 (23)
26. Cleveland 17-43 (29)
27. Detroit 20-42 (28)
28. New York 18-42 (26)
29. Minnesota 17-42 (27)