The 76ers, who began a 3-1 week with a loss at Indiana, have remained in the top 10 in The Inquirer NBA power rankings. The Sixers are No. 9, dropping one spot in a week that also included wins over Brooklyn, Chicago, and New York.
Milwaukee has regained the top spot after dropping to second last week. The Bucks have won six in a row, and the Los Angeles Lakers’ 119-118 home loss to Markelle Fultz and the Orlando Magic saw them relinquish the top spot.
The Los Angeles Clippers, who still haven’t gotten in sync, are No. 3 and Kawhi Leonard has been playing his best basketball of the season.
In his last five games, Leonard is averaging 36 points.
Indiana not only beat the Sixers but won at Denver on Sunday to move up from 12th to No. 4. The win in Denver was Indiana’s first since November 2007. One has to wonder how strong the Pacers will be once Victor Oladipo returns from the ruptured right quadriceps tendon that has kept him out for the last year.
Utah dropped two spots after losing a wild 138-132 overtime game at New Orleans. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell had 46 points and wasn’t the high scorer of the game. That went to New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram, who had 49.
Dallas has won four in a row and has gone 6-4 in the last 10 games that Kristaps Porzingis has missed because of a knee injury. The four-game winning streak began with a victory in Philadelphia.
Toronto is beginning to get healthy and the Raptors have averaged 130.6 points during their three-game winning streak.
Records are through Sunday, with the previous week’s rankings in parentheses.
1. Milwaukee 38-6 (2)
2. Los Angeles Lakers 34-8 (1)
3. Los Angeles Clippers 30-13 (6)
4. Indiana 28-15 (12)
5. Utah 29-13 (3)
6. Dallas 27-14 (7)
7. Denver 29-13 (4)
8. Miami 29-13 (10)
9. Sixers 28-16 (8)
10. Toronto 28-14 (11)
For the first time this year, the Boston Celtics have dropped out of the top 10. Guard Kemba Walker, playing at an all-star level, missed Saturday’s home loss to Phoenix with a sore knee. Walker might be the one player the Celtics can afford to lose least, so that will bear watching.
Memphis remains the hottest team in the NBA, with the current longest winning streak at seven games. Ja Morant is running away with the Rookie of the Year. Not only that, but could warrant All-Star consideration. Memphis and Oklahoma City rank as two of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises.
Another team in this second 10, Orlando, deserves special mention for going into the Staples Center and beating the Lakers. Former Sixer Markelle Fultz had a triple-double, 21 points 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.
New Orleans continues to inch up after a rough start, and first overall pick Zion Williamson is expected to make his NBA debut Wednesday at home against San Antonio.
11. Houston 26-15 (5)
12. Boston 27-12 (9)
13. Oklahoma City 24-19 (13)
14. Memphis 20-22 (14)
15. San Antonio 18-23 (15)
16. Orlando 20-23 (16)
17. New Orleans 16-27 (18)
18. Portland 18-23 (20)
19. Phoenix 18-24 (22)
20. Brooklyn 18-23 (17)
One team in this bottom 10 that could make a playoff run is Chicago. The Bulls are young, but as they showed in spurts during Friday’s 100-89 loss to the Sixers, they have some talent. Zach LaVine is making a strong case to be a member of the All-Star team.
Atlanta, which won twice last week, should be improved after reacquiring point guard Jeff Teague, who will give depth behind probable All-Star Trae Young, and he can also play alongside him as well.
21 Sacramento 15-27 (19)
22. Minnesota 15-23 (21)
23. Chicago 16-28 (24)
24. Detroit 16-27 (27)
25. Washington 13-28 (23)
26. Cleveland 12-31 (25)
27. New York 11-32 (26)
28. Charlotte 15-29 (28)
29. Atlanta 10-33 (30)