HomeTop NewsNBA Power Rankings: Unstoppable Suns stay No. 1; Nets plummeting without Kevin...

NBA Power Rankings: Unstoppable Suns stay No. 1; Nets plummeting without Kevin Durant; Celtics on the rise



It doesn’t matter which team you throw in front of the Suns — they’re simply bulldozing everybody. This week they made victims of the Wolves, Spurs and Nets to run their winning streak to 11 games. Devin Booker’s heater continued, as he put up 30.7 points per game on 41 percent 3-point shooting, while Chris Paul averaged 20.3 points, a ridiculous 15.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds for the week. As if Phoenix needed more weapons, Mikal Bridges has been incredible of late, putting up 23.7 points per game for the week on 69 percent shooting. Good luck stopping the Suns right now.




The Warriors finished off a 6-1 homestand with a win over the Nets on Saturday, then swept their Texas two-step against the Rockets and Spurs. The win in San Antonio was particularly impressive, since it came without four of their five regular starters, including Steph Curry. Jordan Poole led the team with 31 points in the win, while rookies Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga contributed 20 and 19 points, respectively. Don’t look now, but Curry might finally be breaking out of his slump, as he’s now gone 16 for 34 from 3-point range in his last three games.





The Grizzlies’ only loss this week came in overtime to the 76ers without Joel Embiid, and Memphis now sits at a pristine 36-18 as the All-Star break approaches. Ja Morant had nine turnovers in the loss to Philly, but he averaged 31 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds for the week. Desmond Bane has become a legitimate secondary scoring option, putting up 20.8 points per game this week, including a career-high 34 against the Sixers.





After starting the week with a win over the Kings, the Sixers picked up a galvanizing overtime win over Memphis with Joel Embiid on the sidelines enjoying a well-earned day of rest. The momentum didn’t last long, however, as they fell to the Bradley Beal-less Wizards on Wednesday in Embiid’s return. Tyrese Maxey went off for 33 points, eight assists and a career-high four blocks in the win over the Grizzlies.





The Bucks were embarrassed in a 36-point home loss to Denver on Sunday, but won handily in their other two games against the Knicks and Wizards. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 33 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the week on 59 percent shooting from the field, but Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis both struggled from 3-point range. Jrue Holiday was as solid as ever, putting up 20 points, 6.7 assists and 1.7 steals for the week on 50 percent 3-point shooting.





The Bulls suffered a tough home loss to the Spurs to start the week, but bounced back with wins over the Blazers and Magic. The defense has predictably struggled without Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, as they’ve now allowed 117 points per 100 possessions since Caruso went down with a wrist injury. DeMar DeRozan was nearly unstoppable this week, averaging 28 points, 7.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds this week on 62 percent shooting. Zach LaVine added over 25 points per game, but struggled to connect from 3-point range. Filling in at point guard, rookie Ayo Dosunmu has dished out 20 assists in Chicago’s last two games.





The Heat started off the week with a win over the Clippers, then lost an epic, triple-overtime battle with the Raptors … and things went downhill from there. A 30-point loss to the Celtics was followed by another defeat at the hands of Toronto for a 1-3 week. Kyle Lowry missed all four games, making it nine straight, and he’ll provide some stability when he eventually returns. Jimmy Butler went off for 37 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in the triple-overtime loss.





After moving all the way up to the No. 2 spot last week, the Cavs turn around and lose to the Pistons and Rockets. Yeesh. They were able to manage a three-point home win over the Pelicans, but still, not a very impressive stretch. Darius Garland missed the final two games of the week, allowing Brandon Goodwin to fill in admirably with 14 points and 4.5 assists per game on 4-of-7 3-point shooting. Evan Mobley continued his Rookie of the Year-caliber campaign with averages of 17 points, 8.7 rebounds and two blocks, putting up a career-high 29 points in the loss to Houston.





Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets picked up a statement win over the Bucks on Sunday, beating them by 36 points in Milwaukee, but followed that up with road losses to the Wolves and Jazz, the latter coming without Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon. Denver has been piecing together offense around Jokic all season, and this week Will Barton, Monte Morris and new addition Bryn Forbes all averaged over 14 points per game.





Just when it looked like the Mavericks were starting to figure things out, they lost back-to-back games to the Magic and Thunder. It wasn’t for lack of effort from Luka Doncic, who averaged 34.7 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds this week on 42 percent 3-point shooting. The Mavs lost Kristaps Porzingis to a knee injury in the win over Indiana, and Reggie Bullock picked up the scoring slack with 18.7 points per game on 48 percent 3-point shooting this week.





After a loss to the Hawks, the Celtics beat the Pelicans, Heat and Hornets to make it five wins in their last six games. The long, switchy defense has been absolutely elite of late, allowing just 103 per 100 possessions this week. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum each averaged over 24 points this week, while Marcus Smart added 15 points and 6.8 assists per game on 40 percent 3-point shooting.





The Hornets beat the Lakers on Friday, then lost to the Clippers and Celtics to close out the week. LaMelo Ball scored a career-high 38 points in the loss to Boston, adding nine assists and six rebounds. Miles Bridges averaged 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds for the week, but went ice cold from 3-point range as Charlotte continues to miss Gordon Hayward. They’ve now lost four of their last six games in a jam-packed Eastern Conference.




The Wolves lost to the Suns to start the week (just like everyone else), before bouncing back to beat the Jazz and Nuggets at home. They played all three games without D’Angelo Russell, with players like Jordan McLaughlin, Jaylen Nowell and Malik Beasley stepping in to fill the guard minutes. Karl-Anthony Towns has been masterful, averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds and 7.3 assists for the week on 43 percent 3-point shooting. With Anthony Edwards struggling from the field, Taurean Prince picked up the slack with 15.7 points per game on 63 percent 3-point shooting, making 6 of 9 from deep in the win over Denver.





An impressive week for the Raptors started with a thrilling, triple-overtime win over the Heat on Saturday in which each starter played at least 54 minutes. Somehow they found the energy to beat the red-hot Hawks and the Heat again in their next two games. Gary Trent Jr. has been a man possessed, averaging over 32 points and making nearly seven 3-pointers per game at a 50 percent clip this week. Pascal Siakam chipped in 20.7 points, 11 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the three games.





Victories over the Celtics and Lakers to start the week extended Atlanta’s winning streak to seven games, but that came to an end with Monday’s loss to Toronto with All-Star starter Trae Young on the sidelines. The defense was the difference during the streak, and even continued in the loss as they allowed just 106 points to the Raptors. Young averaged 28.5 points, 8.5 assists and seven rebounds in the two games he played, while Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins chipped in with 15.7 points per game apiece.





Utah saw its losing streak reach five games before beating the Nikola Jokic-less Nuggets on national TV Wednesday night. The Jazz continued to miss Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and also lost Joe Ingles for the season with a torn ACL. Mike Conley has been the leading scorer and playmaker by default, averaging 18 points and 5.3 assists this week on 60 percent 3-point shooting. The struggling Jazz have lost 11 of their last 14 games.





Having Kyrie Irving for all three games didn’t help the Nets this week, as their losing streak extended to six after falling to the Warriors, Suns and Kings. James Harden scored a mind-boggling four points in the loss to Sacramento, the fewest points he’s scored in his entire NBA career when playing at least 30 minutes. Frustration has to be settling in for Brooklyn, which just doesn’t have the roster around its two healthy stars to win games right now.





The Clippers lost to the Heat and Pacers this week, with a 25-point win over the Hornets in between. As usual, the Clippers had players in and out of the lineup, but Reggie Jackson and Amir Coffey played in all three games and were the team’s top two scorers. Coffey has been one of the franchise’s success stories this season, and he continued that with 16.3 points per game this week on 42 percent 3-point shooting.





The Lakers finished up their 2-4 road trip with losses to the Hornets and Hawks to start the week, but came home for a victory over the Blazers on Wednesday. LeBron James remains out with a knee injury, and Anthony Davis also missed a game this week, leaving Russell Westbrook to average 21.3 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds with the full reins to the offense, nearly beating the Hornets late with a 35-point effort. Carmelo Anthony pitched in with 18 points per game this week on 40 percent 3-point shooting.




Losses to the Grizzlies and Bucks ran the Wizards’ losing streak to six games to start the week, but they bounced back for an impressive win over the 76ers without Bradley Beal on Wednesday. Kyle Kuzma has been a great story in Washington this season, and he kept that up with 26.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game this week on 11-for-22 3-point shooting. One of those blocks came against Joel Embiid in the closing seconds to preserve the win against Philadelphia.





The Knicks have fallen on hard times, losing to the Bucks and Grizzlies this week, but hey, at least they can still beat the Kings! New York has now lost seven of its last nine games, as Tom Thibodeau struggles to find rotations that work. A silver lining is that Evan Fournier caught fire in a big way this week, averaging 24.3 points per game on 17-for-31 3-point shooting. On the down side, Julius Randle has scored fewer than 20 points in six of his last seven games.




Trail Blazers

Portland’s only win this week came against the Rockets, with losses to the Bulls, Thunder and Lakers. The Blazers will be a very interesting team to watch heading into next week’s trade deadline, as selling off some of their veterans to aid the tanking process seems like a realistic possibility. CJ McCollum has been steady since his return, averaging 22.8 points and 4.8 assists this week on 38 percent 3-point shooting.





OK, Orlando, we see you. The Magic won three games this week, which is a quarter of their total wins for the season. Their only loss came to the Bulls on the road, with wins over the Pistons, Mavericks and Pacers. Orlando had reached the 119-point mark just once all season (it was against the Kings, so does it really count?), and they were able to do it twice this week alone, so something is clearly working offensively. Rookie Franz Wagner led the way with 20.3 points per game, one of six Magic players to average double figures for the week.





The Pacers went 2-2 this week, not bad considering their roster has been depleted by injuries. They nearly pulled off a win with no true big men on Wednesday against the Magic, as Isaiah Jackson was injured just 22 seconds into the game with Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Goga Bitadze already out. Sabonis was excellent in two games before entering protocols, averaging 22.5 points, 16.5 rebounds and nine assists, while Caris LeVert has shouldered the bulk of the perimeter offense with averages of 16.8 points and 5.3 assists this week.





The Pelicans lost to the Nuggets, Celtics and Cavs to start the week, before picking up a much-needed win against the Pistons on Tuesday in Brandon Ingram’s return from a five-game absence. Ingram picked right up where he left off, putting up 26 points while making nine of 10 free throws in the win. Willie Green has gone extra-large in the last two games, starting Jaxson Hayes next to Jonas Valanciunas, but that may not continue if Ingram and Josh Hart are both healthy.





OKC split two overtime games this week, losing to the Pacers and beating the Mavericks. In between, the Thunder came back from 18 points down to beat the Blazers by 17 in a solid win. In the absence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, rookie Tre Mann scored a career-high 29 points in the win over Dallas, while Josh Giddey averaged 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and seven assists in the two games after SGA went down — both Thunder wins.





The Spurs started off the week with a big win over the Bulls, then lost to the Suns and Warriors — the latter of which came against a depleted Golden State roster without four of its five starters, including Steph Curry. Dejounte Murray continued his All-Star-level season with 28 points, 10.5 assists and nine rebounds per game this week on 43 percent 3-point shooting. Keldon Johnson averaged 20 points in the three games, while hitting nine total 3-pointers.





The Kings got a much-needed win over the Nets on Wednesday to snap their seven-game losing streak, with eight Sacramento players scoring at least nine points. With De’Aaron Fox out of the lineup again, Tyrese Haliburton went nuclear with a career-high 38 points, including 11 free throws, in the loss to Philadelphia. Davion Mitchell has also taken advantage of the absence of Fox and Terence Davis, putting up 17 points and 4.7 assists per game this week to accompany his usual, suffocating defense.





The Rockets’ losing streak reached four games with losses to the Blazers and Warriors to start the week, but they closed out a solid win over the Cavs on Wednesday to end the skid. Christian Wood led the team with 22 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this week on 41 percent 3-point shooting, while Kevin Porter Jr. averaged 16.5 points and nine assists on 8-for-14 3-point shooting in two games. Jalen Green scored 21 points in the win over Cleveland, his first time hitting the 20-point threshold in nearly a month.




It’s important to note the positives when you’re talking about the Pistons, and their win over the Cavs on Sunday was one of their best games of the season. Cade Cunningham’s second-career triple-double powered Detroit to a comeback victory after falling behind 15-0 in the opening minutes. They scored an impressive 115 points against one of the league’s best defenses, only the sixth time they’d reached that point total in regulation all season. The Pistons also lost games to the Magic and Pelicans this week, but we don’t need to discuss that.



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