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NBA power rankings: Sixers stay put after beating the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks

Despite the loss to the Sixers, Milwaukee remained No. 1.

Joel Embiid defending Giannis Antetokounmpo as he goes up for a shot in the third quarter on Christmas Day.
Joel Embiid defending Giannis Antetokounmpo as he goes up for a shot in the third quarter on Christmas Day.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Despite beating the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks, the 76ers didn’t make any headway in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings.

That’s because after the win, the Sixers suffered two losses by a total of two points in back-to-back games at Orlando and Miami. The Sixers remained No. 7 during their 2-2 week, which also included a win at Detroit.

The Bucks’ only loss the past week was their 121-109 defeat to the Sixers on Christmas Day. They maintained their No. 1 spot. After the loss to the Sixers, the Bucks won at Atlanta and against Orlando, playing both games without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was sidelined with a back injury.

Miami, which has won two of three from the Sixers, including Saturday’s 117-116 home victory in overtime, has moved up to No. 2. The Heat might not have the star power of other teams, but they are developing great depth. For instance, they outscored the Sixers bench, 48-30. They have great firepower with reserves Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic, among others.

The Clippers made a big leap in the rankings after beating the Lakers for the second time this season, on Christmas. After that win, the Clippers lost to a hot Utah team. The Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined to shoot 12-for-44 against Utah.

The Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with Saturday’s win at Portland and then beat Dallas on Sunday. LeBron James is averaging 35 minutes, and at this stage of the season, that is high. He could wear down if the Lakers don’t give him a break.

Since losing to the Sixers, Denver has won 9 of 10 and looks like a Western Conference contender.

Injuries might finally be catching up to Toronto, which has lost three of its last four.

Here are all the rankings. Last week’s are in parentheses.

The contenders

1. Milwaukee 29-5 (1)

2. Miami 24-8 (2)

3. Los Angeles Clippers 23-11 (11)

4. Los Angeles Lakers 26-7 (6)

5. Utah 20-12 (12)

6. Dallas 21-11 (5)

7. Sixers 23-12 (7)

8. Denver 23-9 (8)

9. Boston 22-8 (3)

10. Toronto 22-11 (2)

The next 10

Indiana, which will host the Sixers on Tuesday, dropped out of the top 10 after losing at Miami (no disgrace) but also losing at suddenly surging New Orleans. Oklahoma City continues to be one of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises, and second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is playing his way into potential all-star consideration.

New Orleans made a huge leap, entering the second 10 for the first time this season. The Pelicans have won four in a row and five of six after defeating Houston on Sunday.

When New Orleans beat visiting Indiana, 120-98, Saturday, NBA history was made when the Holidays became the first trio of brothers to play in the same game. The three are former Sixers guard Jrue Holiday for New Orleans and Aaron and Justin of Indiana.

11. Houston 22-11 (10)

12. Indiana 21-12 (9)

13. Oklahoma City 17-15 (14)

14. San Antonio 13-18 (16)

15. Brooklyn 16-15 (13)

16. Orlando 14-18 (22)

17. Memphis 13-21 (19)

18. Chicago 13-20 (17)

19. Portland 14-19 (15)

20. New Orleans 11-23 (29)

Wait till next year

Minnesota has been disappointing. The Timberwolves have lost five of their last six games without center Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been out because of an injured left knee. Atlanta, coached by former Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce, has lost 10 in a row. No. 10 came during Saturday’s 116-81 loss at Chicago in which all-star candidate Trae Young was sidelined with a sprained right ankle.

21. Phoenix 12-20 (18)

22. Minnesota 11-20 (20)

23. Sacramento 12-21 (21)

24. Detroit 12-21 (23)

25. Golden State 9-25 (28)

26. Cleveland 10-22 (29)

27. Washington 9-22 (25)

28. New York 9-24 (27)

29. Charlotte 13-22 (24)

30. Atlanta 6-27 (30)