While the Los Angeles Lakers remained No. 1, there was plenty of movement in The Inquirer’s second weekly NBA power rankings. The 76ers, after losing three games, remained in the Top 10 because they played two of the games with a depleted roster due to injury/health and safety protocols. The Sixers dropped from second to seventh.
All records are through Monday, Jan. 11. The team’s ranking last week is in parenthesis
1. Los Angeles Lakers (8-3) (1)
The Lakers went 3-1 and lost to San Antonio, 118-109, when they shot just 10 of 30 from three-point range. Second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker (8.1 ppg.) has become a key member of the rotation.
2. Boston Celtics (7-3) (5)
The Celtics had two games postponed against Miami on Sunday and Chicago on Tuesday due to health and safety protocols. Jayson Tatum is out after testing positive for COVID-19. Tatum averaged 26.9 points in the first 10 games for a Celtics team that has won four in a row and six of seven.
3. Milwaukee (7-4) (4)
The Bucks have won two in a row and four of five games after Monday’s 121-99 win at Orlando. Giannis Antekounmpo has not been as dominating, but he’s still averaging 26.6 points and 10.1 rebounds.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (7-4) (3)
Lou Williams, the former Sixer, has gotten off to a slow start but is coming off his best game. He averaged 8.9 points in his first 10 games but had 21 points in Sunday’s 130-127 win over Chicago.
5. Utah (6-4) (8)
The Jazz went 3-2 on a five-game road trip, winning the final two over Milwaukee and Detroit with Donovan Mitchell totaling 60 points.
6. Phoenix (7-4) (6)
Former Villanova star Mikal Bridges continues to enjoy a breakout third season. He had a career-high 34 points in Saturday’s 125-117 win at Indiana and is averaging 15.0 points per game.
7. 76ers (7-4) (2)
The Sixers lost three in a row, all without Seth Curry, who had an ankle injury and then tested positive for COVID-19. Two of the losses came with a depleted lineup due to injury and health and safety protocols, but the Sixers also lost 122-109 at Brooklyn, when the Nets didn’t have Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving in the lineup.
8. Miami (4-4) (9)
The Heat had Sunday’s game at Boston postponed due to health and safety protocols. Before that, Tyler Herro had a regular-season career high of 31 points in Saturday’s 128-124 win at Washington. No wonder Herro’s name is mentioned in any James Harden trade rumors.
9. Indiana (6-4) (7)
Even in defeat, Domantas Sabonis has been impressive. He had 28 points and 22 rebounds in last week’s 125-117 loss to Phoenix. He is averaging 22.2 points and 12.4 rebounds.
10. Dallas (5-4) (11)
Luka Doncic, who has started out slow, enjoyed a breakout game with 38 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in a 124-117 overtime win at Denver before a TNT audience on Thursday. Monday’s game with New Orleans was postponed due to health and safety protocols.
11. Golden State (6-4) (12)
Stephen Curry (28.6 ppg.) is in the early MVP conversation. One person who must improve from the perimeter is Kelly Oubre Jr., shooting 13.7 percent from beyond the arc.
12. Denver (5-5) (14)
Coach Michael Malone took it easy on the Sixers, leaving his starters out of the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 115-103 win over the host Sixers. Nikola Jokic continues to average a triple-double – 24.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 10.4 assists.
13. Portland (6-4) (16)
The Trail Blazers have won three in a row following Monday’s 112-111 victory over visiting Toronto. CJ McCollum is averaging a career-best 28.1 points following a 30-point effort against Toronto.
14. Brooklyn (5-6) (10)
A night after a 122-109 win over the Sixers without Durant and Irving, Brooklyn lost at Memphis with both stars still out of the lineup, Durant for health and safety protocol and Irving for personal reasons. The Nets wasted a 43-point performance from Caris LeVert, who hit 7 of 9 three-pointers. Durant returned and scored 36 points in Sunday’s home loss to Oklahoma City.
15. San Antonio (5-5) (23)
During a 125-122 overtime win at Minnesota, the NBA’s king of the midrange, DeMar DeRozan, had 38 points and didn’t make one three-pointer. DeRozan is averaging 21.2 points.
16. Charlotte (6-5) (28)
Since losing consecutive games to the Sixers, Charlotte has won four in a row. Friday featured LaMelo Ball playing his first NBA game against his brother Lonzo and the New Orleans Pelicans. LaMelo had 12 points 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Hornets’ 118-110 win.
In Saturday’s 113-105 win over Atlanta, Ball became the youngest NBA player to record a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Ball was 19 years, 140 days. The previous youngest player was Markelle Fultz, who was 19 years, 317 days when he had a triple-double for the Sixers on April 11, 2018.
17. Oklahoma City (5-4) (29)
Once again, the Thunder have been overachieving. They have a three-game winning streak after road wins over New Orleans, New York and Brooklyn. During those three games, Shea Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 25.7 points and 7.7 assists and shot 7 of 14 from three-point range.
18. New Orleans (4-5) (13)
The Pelicans, who had Monday’s game at Dallas postponed due to health and safety protocols, have lost three in a row, by a total of 11 points. One problem has been former Sixer JJ Redick, who is shooting just 29.5% from three-point range.
19. Orlando (6-5) (15)
Former Sixers guard Markelle Fultz was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in Wednesday’s 105-94 win over Cleveland. Since then, the Magic have lost three in a row.
20. Houston (3-5) (17)
With all the drama surrounding James Harden, teammate Christian Wood has quietly enjoyed an excellent start. The center, signed as a free agent from Detroit, is averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.
21. Atlanta (5-5) (21)
Monday’s 112-94 win over the Sixers snapped a four-game losing streak. The Hawks had five players out due to injuries. Trae Young, who had been slumping, broke out of it against the Sixers with 26 points, eight assists and zero turnovers
22. Sacramento (5-6) (22)
After a 3-1 start, the Kings have struggled. Sacramento did snap a two-game losing streak with Monday’s 127-122 win over Indiana. Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 30 points, the fifth time he has scored 20 or more points this year.
23. Toronto (2-8) (18)
While it’s still early, one has to wonder if Toronto is going to make a run at a playoff berth. Monday’s 112-111 loss at Portland was the second straight one-point defeat.
24. New York (5-6) (19)
Just as the Knicks were generating good vibes, they have now lost three in a row. If there is any silver lining, Kevin Knox scored a season-high 19 points in Monday’s 109-88 loss at Charlotte.
25. Memphis (4-6) (27)
The banged-up Grizzlies have won two in a row. Guard Dillon Brooks totaled 45 points in those wins over Brooklyn and Cleveland.
26. Cleveland (5-6) (20)
The Cavs have lost four of five after Monday’s 101-91 loss to Memphis. Center Andre Drummond had one of the best performances in a losing effort with 26 points and 24 rebounds in last week’s 100-90 loss at Milwaukee.
27. Chicago (4-7) (24)
The Bulls have lost three in a row, but Zach LaVine continues to put up crazy numbers, averaging 27.7 points per game in 35.2 minutes.
28. Washington (3-8) (25)
Poor Bradley Beal. He scored 101 points in two games, and his team couldn’t win. Beal scored 60 in a 141-136 loss to the Sixers and 41 in a 117-106 defeat at Boston. Beal also had 34 points in Monday’s 128-107 win over visiting Phoenix, snapping a three-game losing streak.
29. Minnesota (3-7) (26)
Karl Anthony Towns returned after missing six games (all losses) with a wrist injury. He had 25 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 125-122 home overtime loss to San Antonio. The Wolves snapped their seven-game losing streak the next night with a 96-88 win over the Spurs.
30. Detroit (2-8) (30)
Former Sixer Jerami Grant signed a big free-agent contract and he has been playing great. Grant had 31 points in Friday’s overtime home win over Phoenix. He is averaging 25.1 points and is shooting 37.5% from three-point range.