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NBA Power Rankings: Bucks make statement; Timberwolves stay in first place in West

It’s the middle of January, which means the NBA regular season is in the midst of the dog days of its calendar. Teams are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the league.

Throughout the season, one thing remains consistent and that’s the Boston Celtics dominating the league. This past week, the second-placed Milwaukee Bucks had a resounding statement in their blowout win over the Celtics.

Out in the West, it’s a deep conference headlined by the northwest divisional trio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Let’s look at this week’s edition of Thunder Wire’s NBA power rankings, capping the week of Jan. 8 to Jan. 14:

Detroit Pistons (3-36)

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 30

The Pistons continue to be the laughingstock of the league. Detroit has lost seven in a row after flirting with a fourth win against the Rockets before ultimately losing to them. Despite their record, GM Troy Weaver continues to add veterans to this group with the acquisition of Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala on Sunday.

Washington Wizards (7-31)

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 28

The Wizards continue to plummet down the standings, now owning the second-best lottery odds. Washington snapped a six-game losing streak with a blowout win over the Hawks on Saturday. The Wizards partnered with the Pistons to complete a multi-player trade that saw them land Marvin Bagley III.

Charlotte Hornets (8-29)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 27

The good news for the Hornets is that they welcomed LaMelo Ball back after missing nearly two months of action with an ankle sprain. The bad news for Charlotte is it continues to be one of the worst teams in the league. They’ve lost five consecutive games with the last three being by double-digits.

San Antonio Spurs (7-31)

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 29

Amid a losing season, the Spurs had a solid week with a pair of blowout wins over the Pistons and Hornets. Victor Wembanyama collected his first career triple-double historically as he was both the youngest player to collect one and the second-fastest one to record one in just 21 minutes during San Antonio’s lopsided win over Detroit.

Portland Trail Blazers (10-29)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 26

The Trail Blazers continue to lose and this past week was their biggest lowlight when they suffered a 62-point loss to the Thunder. It was the fifth-largest margin of defeat in NBA history. Scoot Henderson has also struggled, which is hard to blame him for considering the environment.

Memphis Grizzlies (14-25)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 22

This week marked the unofficial end of the Grizzlies’ season. It was announced that Ja Morant suffered a season-ending torn labrum. The shoulder injury knocks him out the rest of the year after only nine games this season. To add insult to injury, Memphis also lost Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane to injuries. It’s been a forgettable season for the Grizzlies.

Atlanta Hawks (15-23)

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 25

After treading around .500 for most of the season, it looks like the Hawks are on the verge of falling behind the playoff race. Getting blown out by the Wizards only affirms that. If Atlanta becomes a seller, expect Dejounte Murray to gain interest from other teams as a starting guard.

Toronto Raptors (15-24)

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 21

It was a rough week for the Raptors as they’ve lost three in a row. Toronto’s one-point loss to the Lakers created an epic rant by head coach Darko Rajakovic that went viral when he defended Scottie Barnes. That’s been the lone bright spot for the Raptors recently, who could move Pascal Siakam at the trade deadline.

Brooklyn Nets (16-22)

Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports
Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 24

It’s been a rough few weeks for the Nets, who’ve lost seven of their last eight games. This includes a loss to the Cavaliers in Paris. Expect Brooklyn to be a seller as it has several wings that contenders would likely be interested in.

Golden State Warriors (18-21)

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 20

Losing three of four, the Warriors will welcome reinforcements when they welcome back Draymond Green following a lengthy suspension. The bad news for Golden State is that it’s running out of time and margin for error. All three of its recent losses being by double-digits certainly doesn’t spell optimism.

Los Angeles Lakers (19-21)

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 19

The Lakers continue to be an inconsistent bunch despite LeBron James and Anthony Davis being healthy for the most part this season. Los Angeles has lost their last two games to the Jazz and Suns to knock their record down to two games below .500. Roster upgrades will be needed by the Lakers if they hope to have a deep playoff run.

Chicago Bulls (19-22)

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 23

It appears the Bulls have survived a harsh rash of injuries and continue to play with a rhythm recently. Chicago’s won four of its last five contests. Off the court, the biggest story involving the Bulls relates to their fans harshly booing Jerry Krause’s ceremony in the Ring of Honor. The reaction received plenty of criticism for how poorly tasteful it was.

Houston Rockets (19-19)

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 17

It’s been a rough four-game stretch for the Rockets. Houston’s lost three of four with its sole win being barely escaping from losing to the lowly Pistons. They capped off their week with a 32-point loss to the Celtics.

Orlando Magic (21-18)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 13

Losers of three in a row, it looks like the Magic have struggled as they deal with the absences of Franz Wagner and other key contributors. Orlando is currently going through a rough stretch in its season after coming out of the gates hot to start the year.

Phoenix Suns (21-18)

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 16

The Suns have won their last two contests to create some breathing room from a .500 mark. Even though they’ve played better recently, struggling to put the Trail Blazers away on Sunday further shows that the trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal still need time to mesh well.

Utah Jazz (21-20)

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 18

Led by head coach Will Hardy, the Jazz refuse to go away. Utah’s won 8 of its last 10 contests including a current five-game winning streak. Lauri Markkanen continues to play like an All-Star and further makes the case why they should keep him around instead of possibly dealing him at the trade deadline.

Dallas Mavericks (23-17)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 9

Kyrie Irving has had to navigate these last two games without Luka Doncic, who’s missed time with an ankle injury. The Mavericks will need Doncic to return as soon as he can to start racking up wins after being on middling ground for a while now.

New York Knicks (23-16)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 12

The Knicks have been collecting plenty of wins recently. New York has won six of its last seven games. Although it’s been an easy stretch in their schedule with several bottom feeders, there’s no apologizing for taking care of business.

Sacramento Kings (23-16)

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 10

The Kings had a rough end to their week when they lost to the Bucks on an overtime game-winner via Damian Lillard on Sunday. Following the loss, Kings head coach Mike Brown went on an epic rant about the officiating that featured him using a laptop to prove his points.

Miami Heat (23-16)

Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 11

Injuries continue to mount for the Heat. Already without Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry, a groin injury will keep Jaime Jaquez Jr. out for a couple of games. Despite this, Miami has survived the onslaught of injuries and has won two in a row.

Indiana Pacers (23-16)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 14

The Pacers continue to tally wins, going 8-2 in their last 10 games. Indiana will need to continue to do this as it looks to survive Tyrese Haliburton’s absence, who suffered a hamstring strain that’ll keep him out for at least two weeks.

Cleveland Cavaliers (22-15)

Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports
Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 11

A four-game winning streak has the Cavaliers fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Donovan Mitchell scored a season-high 45 points in their win over the Nets overseas in Paris.

New Orleans Pelicans (24-16)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 8

The Pelicans have recently looked like one of the better teams in the Western Conference with wins over the Mavericks and Warriors strengthening their resume. Rookie Jordan Hawkins dropped a career-high 34 points in their win over Dallas on Saturday.

Philadelphia 76ers (24-13)

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 30

Without Joel Embiid, the Sixers have looked mortal. The MVP candidate has missed 13 of the last 23 games for Philly, who’s gone 5-5 in its last 10 contests. Embiid nears a return for the Sixers. Tobias Harris scored 37 points in their win over the Kings to snap a three-game losing streak.

LA Clippers (25-14)

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 6

As the Clippers continue to play excellent basketball, they made a massive off-court move by signing Kawhi Leonard — who is enjoying a healthy season — to an extension. LA is hoping to get a new deal done with Paul George too.

Denver Nuggets (28-13)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 2

The Nuggets continue to chug along as NBA contenders like they have been for several years now. Denver picked up some impressive wins over the Pelicans and Pacers this week. The reigning NBA champions will fight it out for the first seed.

Milwaukee Bucks (28-12)

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 4

It was a productive week for the Bucks, who blew out the Celtics and ended it with Lillard’s game-winner. Milwaukee remains a perennial contender in the league and Giannis Antekounmpo is having another ho-hum MVP-type season.

Oklahoma City Thunder (27-11)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 5

The Thunder continue to be one of the best teams in the league. OKC was provided a nice breather amid a busy January on the road when it swept its two-game homestand that included a historic win over the Trail Blazers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to strengthen his MVP case.

Minnesota Timberwolves (28-11)

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 3

The Timberwolves had a couple of tough tests sandwiched between an easy win over the Trail Blazers this week. Minnesota lost to the Celtics but beat the red-hot Clippers to finish its week. In the middle of January, the Timberwolves sit along atop of the Western Conference standings.

Boston Celtics (30-9)

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Previous ranking: 1

Despite an ugly loss to the Bucks, the Celtics continue to be a winning machine. Boston is the first team in the league to reach 30 wins. They own the best point differential by a significant margin at plus-9.8. A blowout win over the Rockets and former coach Ime Udoka helped reinforce that.

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire