The Sixers jump into the top-five, bumping the Nuggets down to No. 6, while the Warriors retain the top spot in this week’s updated NBA Power Rankings.
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1. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are so talented, you get the sense they could spot their opponents 20 points at the start of each game and still win most nights. On Friday, they were down 17 to the Suns before cruising to an easy victory. On Sunday, Golden State continued its trend of falling behind big early on, only to come out victorious, as the Dubs trailed the Heat by 19 in the first quarter but eventually won 120-118. It was the Warriors 11th double-digit comeback of the season. Golden State has won 15 of their last 16 contests and has scored at least 100 points in 26 straight games.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee decided to sit Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday and it served as a solid reminder why the Greek Freak is considered by many to be the league's most valuable player this season. After a dominant stretch in which they won 12 of 13 games, the Bucks finally came back down to earth on Saturday when they got blown out by Orlando at home. Dating back to Christmas Day, Milwaukee is 19-2 when Giannis plays, and they’ve won 17 of those 19 games by double-digits. They are 0-2 without him, losing those two games by a combined total of 27 points.
3. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors surprisingly added a former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol at the deadline. Now it’s on coach Nick Nurse to figure out how to best utilize his new addition. Big Spain came off the bench in his first game with Toronto on Saturday, but will he be content as a reserve long-term? If not, would Nurse risk disrupting the chemistry Serge Ibaka or Pascal Siakam have developed with the other Raptor starters? It will be one of the more interesting subplots to keep an eye on over the second half of the season and into the playoffs.
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4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook recorded his ninth consecutive triple-double in Saturday’s impressive comeback victory over the Rockets in Houston. Russ scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds an dished out 11 dimes. The nine straight trip-dubs ties Wilt Chamberlain for the longest streak in league history. During this nine-game stretch, Russ is averaging a mind-boggling 14.1 assists and 13.1 rebounds. Just an important, the Thunder are 11-1 in their last 12 contests.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
As of Thursday morning, the Philadelphia was the only team in the league with four players averaging at least 17 points per game. Then they added Tobias Harris to the mix, who was averaging 20.9 points a night for the Clippers. The Sixers have only played two games since acquiring Harris at the trade deadline, but after beating the Nuggets on Friday and demolishing the Lakers on Sunday, Philly undoubtedly has the look of a team that can make a serious postseason run.
6. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have lost three straight games and are still dealing with injuries to important players. Gary Harris (right adductor strain) has missed each of Denver last five contests and will likely be held out until after the All-Star break. Coach Mike Malone said that resting Harris through the break is "probably the most prudent decision." Paul Millsap (ankle), who has missed three straight games, was "very limited" at Sunday's practice. However, over the weekend, Isaiah Thomas (hip) was able to participate in a 5-of-5 practice for the first time all season.
7. Portland Trail Blazers
On Sunday, the Blazers began a stretch in which they ten of 11 games away from home. Their first stop was in Dallas, and it appeared they were well on their way to securing a road victory, as they were up by 15 points with less than ten minutes remaining. However, Luka Doncic spearheaded a remarkable comeback by the Mavs, leading to a 102-101 win for Dallas.
8. Boston Celtics
After an uninspiring 10-10 start, the Celtics were 25-9 in their subsequent 34 games. However, last week was an awful one for the C’s. First, they blew an 18-point lead at home to the Lakers on Thursday. Then, on Saturday night, they somehow went from up 28 on the Clippers to losing by 11. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kyrie Irving exited the game with a knee injury. Fortunately, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday that Irving’s right knee sprain isn’t serious and he’s day-to-day going forward.
9. Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert has been a beast for Utah over the last month. Dating back to January 12th (13 games), Gobert is averaging 17.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 blocks, while shooting a scorching 66.9 percent from the field. The Jazz are 12-3 over their last 15 contests.
10. Houston Rockets
Incredibly, James Harden has scored at least 30 points in each of the Rockets' last 29 games. He is now just two games shy of matching Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in NBA history. During this remarkable 29-game run, Harden is averaging a whopping 41.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.5 assists 5.7 triples and 2.2 steals.
11. Indiana Pacers
Someone forgot to tell the gritty Pacers that they were supposed to lay down and die after they lost superstar Victor Oladipo for the season. Indiana won all four games they played last week and have won five in a row overall. The Pacers are currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of both the Sixers and Celtics. In addition, they signed sharpshooter Wesley Matthews over the weekend, after the Knicks waived him.
12. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs began the dreaded “Rodeo Road Trip” last week, and it has not gone well. San Antonio lost all four games they’ve played thus far, and still have four more consecutive road games (Memphis, Toronto, New York, Brooklyn). The Spurs don’t play again at home until Wednesday, February 27th, when they host the Pistons.
13. Sacramento Kings
The Kings won for the fifth time in six outings on Sunday when the beat up on the Suns. Marvin Bagley scored a game-high 32 points, and in the process became the youngest player in franchise history to score more than 30 points. However, Sacramento now faces a problematic portion of their schedule. Their next four games are all on the road, with trips to Denver, Golden State, Oklahoma City and Minnesota, before heading home to take on the Bucks.
14. LA Clippers
Garrett Temple, Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green and Landry Shamet all made their Clipper debuts in Saturday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Celtics in Boston. The C’s were up 68-40 in the second in the second quarter and led 74-53 at halftime, before L.A. came storming back. The Clips got a big lift from Shamet, who finished with 17 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 27 minutes.
15. Los Angeles Lakers
Even with their miraculous comeback victory over the Celtics in Boston last Thursday, the Lakers have still dropped three of their last four games, and all three losses were embarrassing defeats. They lost to the Warriors by 14, the Pacers by 42 (the most lopsided loss of LeBron James’ career) and the Sixers by 23 points.
16. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have lost four of their last five games, including a very disappointing defeat to the Bulls in Brooklyn on Friday night. However, they did welcome back Caris LeVert to the lineup in that contest. LeVert scored 11 points with two rebounds, four assists, one turnover and matching a career-high five steals in 15 minutes. Brooklyn will also get Spencer Dinwiddie back after the All-Star break, as they hope to make a push into the playoffs.
17. Charlotte Hornets
Unsurprisingly, Kemba Walker has been carrying the Hornets, as he’s averaging 31.8 points, 5.2 boards, 7.2 dimes, 1.4 steals and 5.2 treys over the last month. However, Kamba and the Cats have also gotten a significant boost from Jeremy Lamb of late. Over Charlotte’s past four games, Lamb is averaging 18.5 points, 6.0 boards, 2.5 dimes, 1.8 steals, and 1.5 treys, while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 92.3 percent from the charity stripe.
18. Detroit Pistons
At this time last week, the Pistons were in the doldrums. However, Detroit has won three in a row to climb back into the postseason race. The Pistons also certainly benefit from playing out East. Despite being four games under .500, Detroit is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Kings (30-26) are four games over .500 and are in ninth place in the Western Conference, on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
19. Dallas Mavericks
Rookie sensation Luka Doncic was at it again on Sunday night. With Dallas trailing Portland by 15 points in the final frame, Doncic put the Mavs on his back, scoring 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, to carry his team to a 102-101 victory. Maverick fans probably shouldn’t have been shocked, as Luka has been hitting big shots all season. According to NBA.com/stats, Doncic is one of only two players in the league to score more than 80 total points and shot at least 50 percent from the floor in the clutch this season.
20. Miami Heat
The Heat gave the Warriors all they could handle, before losing a 120-118 nailbiter on Sunday night. Unfortunately, moral victories are not what Miami needs right now. The struggling Heat have lost five of their last six games, and still have three games left on their current road trip (at Denver, at Dallas and at Philadelphia).
21. Washington Wizards
The Newest Wizards, Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, we're looking to settle some outstanding debts on Saturday night. Washington was playing in Chicago, which meant it was the first time both players squared off with the team that traded them just a few days earlier. Not only did the Wiz get the win, but Parker also scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, with six assists, five rebounds, two blocked shots and one steal in 35 minutes and Portis tallied ten points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
22. Orlando Magic
Many pundits believed the Magic would trade away either Terrence Ross and/or starting center, and pending unrestricted free agent, Nikola Vucevic by Thursday’s deadline. Instead, Orlando decided they’d build towards the future by trading for Markelle Fultz, and also make a run at the playoffs this year. Winners in four of their last five games, the Magic have crept back within six games of .500 and are just 2.5 games behind Miami and Detroit for the eight seed in the East.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
Losers of six of their last seven games, the Wolves are heading in the wrong direction. However, to be fair, they’ve been extremely shorthanded at point guard of late, with Jeff Teague (foot), Derrick Rose (ankle), Jerryd Bayless (sore right big toe) and Tyus Jones (ankle) all missing time. Fortunately, Teague was a full participant in Sunday's practice and is expected to play Monday night. D Rose also practiced on Sunday. He and Bayless are listed as questionable for Monday. Jones is likely to return after the All-Star break.
24. New Orleans Pelicans
After the Pelicans decided to hold onto Anthony Davis past the trade deadline, there was much speculation as to whether New Orleans would choose to sit AD the remainder of the season to protect his health. After commissioner Adam Silver and the league office reportedly threated to fine the Pels $100,000 for each game, Davis was benched, AD was in the starting lineup on Friday night. Most folks assumed he would not suit up for the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday, but Davis did play and even logged 34 minutes. The Pels have another back-to-back in their first two games after the All-Star break, so it will be interesting to see if he plays both legs of the B2B once again.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies drafted Pau Gasol in June of 2001. He was the first ever draft pick by the organization after they moved from Vancouver to Memphis. They traded him in February of 2008, but received his brother Marc in the deal from the Lakers. Marc was a cornerstone of the team until the Grizz traded him at the deadline on Thursday. That means that Saturday’s contest vs. New Orleans was the first time Memphis had played a game without a Gasol on their roster in 18 years (1,427 straight games).
26. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks began a seven-game homestand last week, but have lost each of their first three contests. They take on the Lakers on Tuesday and Knicks on Thursday, before wrapping up their homestand against the Pistons and Suns after the All-Star break.
27. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls were able to knock off the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday, but are just 3-17 in their last 20 games. However, Chicago did make a major move before the deadline, trading Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a second-round pick to the Wizards in exchange for Otto Porter Jr. Otto has a hefty salary but is a solid all-around player that Chicago felt would serve as a significant upgrade to its rebuilding roster.
28. Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker (right hamstring tightness) returned from a two-game absence on Sunday and tallied 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes. However, the Suns still lost their 14th straight game. Phoenix is now one game shy of matching its franchise record of 15 consecutive defeats, set last season.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Larry Nance Jr. continues to find ways to stuff the stat sheet. Nance has recorded double-doubles in each of Cleveland’s last five games and is averaging 12.2 points (on 50 percent shooting), 12.8 rebounds, 3.0 dimes, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.0 treys and just 0.8 turnovers during this current five-game stretch.
30. New York Knicks
Through his three games with New York, Dennis Smith Jr. is posting a 30% Usage Rate and is averaging 19.3 points and 6.5 assists. He is the first player in Knicks franchise history to tally more than 75 points and 25 assists in his first four games with the team. On the negative side of the ledger, DSJ is struggling from the charity stripe. Smith is 18-for-31 (58.1 percent) from the free throw line since his trade to the Big Apple. Oh, by the way, the Knicks have lost 16 games in a row.