In a week when the top four contenders lost at least one game, Utah has replaced Phoenix as the No. 1 team in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings.
Both Utah and Phoenix were 3-1 this past week, with Utah losing in OT at the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix losing by 26 at home to San Antonio. The Sixers moved up one spot to No. 3, but could have earned the top spot had they not lost at home Monday to Golden State.
Records are through Monday. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Utah, 43-15 (2)
Utah went 3-1 this week, losing on Saturday, 127-115, in overtime at the Lakers and then beating Los Angeles, 111-97, on Monday at the Staples Center as sixth-man-of-the-year candidate Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points. Leading scorer Donovan Mitchell missed both Lakers games with a sprained right ankle, which occurred during Friday’s 119-111 home win over Indiana. The Jazz are 4-1 this season in games without Mitchell.
2. Phoenix, 41-16 (1)
The Suns saw a four-game win streak snapped with Saturday’s 111-85 home loss to San Antonio. It also ended a 10-game home winning streak. Phoenix then earned a 128-127 OT victory at Milwaukee on Monday to kick off a five-game road trip as Devin Booker scored 24 points and hit a game-winning free throw with 0.3 seconds left. Eleven of Phoenix’s final 15 games will be on the road, including Wednesday in Philadelphia.
3. Sixers, 39-18 (4)
The Sixers saw a four-game win streak snapped with Monday’s home loss to Golden State. Against the Warriors, the Sixers played without Tobias Harris (knee) and Ben Simmons (non-COVID-related illness). In eight games since Joel Embiid has returned after missing 10 games with a bruised left knee, the Sixers are 6-2 and he has averaged 29.9 points and 10 rebounds.
4. L.A. Clippers, 40-19 (3)
The Clippers have won eight of nine. The lone loss was Friday’s 106-103 defeat to the host Sixers, when Kawhi Leonard missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury. Leonard returned for Sunday’s 124-105 win over Minnesota. He had 15 points and 11 rebounds in just under 23 minutes.
5. Denver, 37-20 (5)
The Nuggets were dealt a critical blow when Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending torn ACL last week. With Murray, the Nuggets looked like title contenders. Since the injury, the Nuggets have beaten Miami and Houston and, most recently, Memphis. Denver won a 139-137 double-overtime home decision on Monday over the Grizzlies as Nikola Jokic had 47 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
6. Brooklyn, 38-19 (6)
The Nets went 2-2 this past week, with the losses to the Sixers and Miami by a total of eight points. Kevin Durant, who rested against the Sixers, suffered a left thigh contusion against Miami. It was his fifth game since missing 23 with a hamstring injury.
7. L.A. Lakers, 35-23 (8)
The Lakers went 2-2 this past week, winning at Charlotte, losing at home to Boston and then splitting two home games with Utah. Anthony Davis has missed 30 games with a strained right calf, and LeBron James has been sidelined 16 with a right ankle sprain. The Lakers are 7-9 in the last 16 games without both of their All-Stars.
8. Milwaukee, 35-22 (7)
The Bucks have lost two in a row and five of eight with Monday’s 128-127 OT home loss to Phoenix. That followed a 128-115 loss Saturday to visiting Memphis. In the last three games after missing the previous six with a knee injury, Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged 25.3 points, but is shooting 16.7% from three-point range.
9. Boston, 31-27 (13)
The Celtics had their six-game win streak snapped with Monday’s 102-96 home loss to Chicago. Jayson Tatum had a triple-double — 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists — but was held to 3-for-17 shooting. During the six-game win streak, Tatum averaged 32.7 points and 9.0 rebounds.
10. Portland, 32-24 (10)
Portland has lost three of four including Sunday’s 109-101 defeat at Charlotte, with Damian Lillard missing his second straight game because of a hamstring injury. Portland is eight games above .500 despite being 29th in defensive rating, allowing 115.9 points per 100 possessions.
11. Atlanta, 31-26 (11)
The Hawks have won four of five after Sunday’s 129-117 home win over Indiana. Clint Capela had 25 points, 24 rebounds and three blocked shots in the win.
12. Miami, 30-28 (12)
Jimmy Butler called out his teammates after Friday’s 119-111 loss at Minnesota. Then with Butler out because of a sprained ankle, the Heat snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday’s 109-107 home win over Brooklyn. Bam Adebayo had 21 points, 15 rebounds and the game-winning 13-foot jumper as time expired. Butler was also out in Monday’s 113-94 home win over Houston.
13. Dallas, 30-26 (9)
Sunday’s 121-107 home loss to Sacramento was the Mavericks’ fourth defeat in five games and fourth in a row at home. Dallas is 13-14 at home, compared to 17-12 on the road.
14. New York, 31-27 (16)
The Knicks have won six in a row with Sunday’s 122-112 overtime home victory over New Orleans. During the win streak, Julius Randle is averaging 30.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists.
15. Memphis, 29-27 (15)
After beating Dallas, 114-113, at home, the Grizzlies began a seven-game road trip with wins at Chicago and Milwaukee before suffering Monday’s 139-137 double-overtime loss at Denver. Ja Morant had 36 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds against the Nuggets.
16. San Antonio, 28-28 (17)
The Spurs had two close losses and ended the week with blowout wins. They fell to Toronto, 117-112, in Tampa; lost by 107-106 at home to Portland; and then had road wins over San Antonio and Indiana. Derrick White had 16 of his 25 points in the first quarter against Indiana.
17. Golden State, 29-29 (18)
It was the Steph Curry show in Monday’s 107-96 win over the Sixers. Curry scored 49 points, the 11th straight game he has scored 30 or more. The Warriors are 7-4 in those 11 games. Curry is averaging 40 points and shooting 49.7% from three-point range during this streak.
18. Charlotte, 28-28 (14)
A four-game losing streak ended with Sunday’s 109-101 home win over Portland as Terry Rozier had 34 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.
19. Toronto, 24-34 (21)
Despite being banged up, the Raptors have won three in a row, home victories against San Antonio, Orlando and Oklahoma City. During the win streak, Chris Boucher is averaging 18 points and 10.3 rebounds, hitting 8 of 16 three-pointers.
20. New Orleans, 25-32 (19)
After winning three in a row, the Pelicans have dropped three straight, including consecutive overtime defeats at Washington and New York. Zion Williamson is averaging a team-high 26.8 points, and Brandon Ingram averages 24.2.
21. Indiana, 26-31 (20)
The Pacers have lost three in a row, road games at Utah and Atlanta and a 109-94 home loss Monday to San Antonio. Indiana is a season-high five games under .500, a level the team has hit on two other occasions.
22. Washington, 24-33 (23)
The Wizards have won five in a row with Monday’s 119-107 home victory over Oklahoma City. This is the second time this season the Wizards have won five straight. Bradley Beal scored 30 points against OKC and is averaging 32.4 during the streak.
23. Chicago, 24-33 (22)
Zach LaVine, who is averaging a career-high 27.5 points, has missed the last three games because of health and safety protocols. The Bulls have won two in a row, beating Cleveland, 106-96, at home and winning, 102-96, at Boston on Monday behind 29 points and nine rebounds from Nikola Vucevic.
24. Sacramento, 23-34 (24)
The Kings snapped a nine-game losing streak with Sunday’s 121-107 win at Dallas as De’Aaron Fox had 30 points, 12 assists and zero turnovers.
25. Detroit, 18-40 (27)
The Pistons have won two of three after Monday’s 109-105 home win over Cleveland as former Villanova forward Saddiq Bey and Frank Jackson each scored a team-high 20 points. Bey had six three-pointers and set the NBA rookie record for most games with six or more threes with five. Leading scorer Jerami Grant (22.4 ppg.) was sidelined for the game with a left quad contusion.
26. Cleveland, 20-37 (25)
Monday’s 109-105 loss in Detroit was the Cavs’ third straight defeat and fifth in the last six games. The backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined for 51 points. Sexton is averaging 27.2 points in his last five games.
27. Orlando, 18-39 (28)
The Magic have lost two in a row and eight of nine and have dropped six straight at home. The most recent defeat was Sunday’s 114-110 home loss to Houston. In that game, the Magic tied a dubious franchise record by starting their 28th different lineup. They equaled the mark for the 1991-92 and 2012-13 seasons.
28. Minnesota, 15-43 (29)
The Wolves have lost three of four, but the one win was a surprising 119-111 home victory Friday over Miami. The Wolves are 28th in defensive rating, allowing 114.9 points per 100 possessions.
29. Houston, 15-43 (30)
The Rockets have lost six of their last seven with Monday’s 113-91 defeat at Miami. Houston is 2-13 in its last 15 games.
30. Oklahoma City, 20-38 (26)
The Thunder lost their 11th in a row during Monday’s 119-107 defeat at Washington. This was the ninth time during the 11-game losing steak that the Thunder lost by double digits. They are last in the NBA in offensive rating, averaging 103.5 points per 100 possessions.