The 76ers remained in the top 10, but dropped three spots to No. 7 in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings this week. The Sixers, who suffered their first two home losses of the season last week to Miami and Dallas, were No. 4 the previous week.

Are the Los Angeles Lakers being exposed with the schedule becoming more difficult? The Lakers have lost three in a row and, like most teams, could use some more bench scoring.

The Toronto Raptors, despite some difficult injuries, including to major All-Star candidate Pascal Siakam, continue to win. The Raptors, without Siakam, Marc Gasol, and key reserve Norman Powell, still beat visiting Dallas on Sunday.

Speaking of Dallas, the Mavericks have gone 2-2 without injured Luka Dončić, with the two wins at Milwaukee and the Sixers, and the losses against Boston at home and Toronto on the road in a difficult week.

Denver, with a decisive win on Sunday at the Lakers, is coming on. Since losing to the Sixers on Dec. 10, Denver has won six in a row.

The contenders

Milwaukee's Khris Middleton drives past the Pacers' T.J. Warren during a game on Sunday. The Bucks won, 117-89.
Morry Gash / AP
Milwaukee's Khris Middleton drives past the Pacers' T.J. Warren during a game on Sunday. The Bucks won, 117-89.

1. Milwaukee 27-4 (No. 1 last week)

2. Toronto 21-8 (9)

3. Boston 20-7 (5)

4. Miami 21-8 (6)

5. Dallas 19-10 (7)

6. L.A. Lakers 24-6 (2)

7. Sixers 21-10 (4)

8. Denver 20-8 (10)

9. Indiana 20-10 (9)

10. Houston 20-9 (11)

Next 10

The Clippers' Kawhi Leonard dunks against the Spurs on Saturday.
Darren Abate / AP
The Clippers' Kawhi Leonard dunks against the Spurs on Saturday.

That is not a misprint: The Los Angeles Clippers are out of the Top 10 for the first time this season. It might take the Clippers a while to get into their rhythm because of Kawhi Leonard’s continued absence from the lineup. He only has played as many as five games in a row once this season.

Utah is starting to play better, and what is surprising is that the Jazz are 6-2 in the last eight games without Mike Conley, who suffered a hamstring injury in a 103-94 loss at the Sixers on Dec. 2.

With four wins in a row, Oklahoma City continues to be one of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises, with second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way.

11. L.A. Clippers 22-10 (3)

12. Utah 18-11 (13)

13. Brooklyn 16-13 (12)

14. Oklahoma City 15-14 (16)

15. Portland 14-16 (17)

16. San Antonio 11-17 (14)

17. Chicago 12-19 (23)

18. Phoenix 11-18 (18)

19. Memphis 11-19 (24

20. Minnesota 10-18 (19)

Wait till next year

Joel Embiid throws down a dunk against the Sacramento Kings last month.
Elizabeth Robertson / File Photograph
Joel Embiid throws down a dunk against the Sacramento Kings last month.

Sacramento is a team that has been competitive in many games. The Kings are 7-6 in games decided by four points or fewer. Buddy Hield, so reliable for much of the season, has shot 6 for 33 from the field his last two games.

21. Sacramento 12-17 (15)

22. Orlando 12-17 (21)

23. Detroit 11-19 (20)

24. Charlotte 13-20 (22)

25. Washington 8-20 (25)

26. Cleveland 8-21 (29)

27. New York 7-23 (27)

28. Golden State 6-24 (28)

29. New Orleans 7-23 (30)

30. Atlanta 6-24 (26)