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NBA Power Rankings: Streaking Grizzlies take No. 1 spot with Heat close behind; Knicks, Hornets on the rise


The Grizzlies are simply destroying the league, and they’re having fun doing it. They beat the Pistons, Clippers and Lakers before a statement win over the Warriors at home on Tuesday brought Memphis’ winning streak to 10 games. Ja Morant missed the win over the Clippers, but averaged 22.3 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the other three games. It’s been next-man-up for the Grizzlies all season, and it was no different this week with Steven Adams, Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks all missing time. In case you haven’t watched them much this season, the Grizzlies are absolutely for real. 4 29-14

Miami only played two games this week, but both were extremely impressive road wins without Jimmy Butler. First they trounced the Suns, then had no problem taking care of the Hawks, as Tyler Herro averaged 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 54 percent shooting in the two games. Gabe Vincent returned from a five-game absence to score 14 points on 4-for-7 3-point shooting in 20 minutes in the win over Atlanta. The Heat have now won eight of their last 10 games. 7 26-15

The Suns beat the Clippers and Raptors this week, but were blown out by the Heat at home. The offense has been a bit stagnant recently, partly due to Devin Booker enduring a rough shooting slump, but upcoming games against the Pacers, Pistons and Spurs could help remedy that. Cameron Johnson continued his strong season, averaging 19.5 points and six rebounds in two games this week before an ankle injury sidelined him for the win in Toronto, and going 7 for 17 from 3-point range. 1 31-9

It was a short-lived run at No. 1 for the Bulls, who went 2-2 this week with wins over the Wizards and Pistons and losses to the Mavericks and Nets. Five Bulls averaged double-figures for the week, led by Zach LaVine’s 19.8 points per game. The offense looked good for the most part, but they allowed 122, 113 and 138 points to the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, respectively, which is tough to survive. 3 27-12

The Warriors went 1-2 this week, but the record is almost inconsequential given the fact that Klay Thompson made his return to the court after 941 days since his last NBA game. The early returns are great for Thompson, who averaged 15.5 points in 20 minutes over his first two games, while going 5 for 13 from 3-point range. His return comes at the right time for the Warriors, whose offense efficiency has plummeted in recent weeks. 3 30-10

The Nets were having a rough week with losses to the Bucks and Blazers and an overtime win over the Spurs, but they put a second-half hammering on the Bulls in Wednesday’s win, terrifying everyone in the NBA in the process. Brooklyn extended its two-point halftime lead all the way to 38 midway through the fourth quarter — this with Kyrie Irving only scoring nine points in the game. It’s going to take a while for Irving to get reacclimated, but the Nets showed they’re still an absolute force with all three on the court. 1 26-14

A very strong week for the Hornets, who beat the Bucks in consecutive games and followed that up with a win over the 76ers. We know Charlotte can score, but the name of the game for them is defense, and it’s come through brilliantly in the last three games. Terry Rozier led the way offensively, averaging 25.7 points and four assists on 44 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while Gordon Hayward scored 30 in the win over Philly on Wednesday. 8 23-19

Milwaukee picked up a huge win over the Nets without Jrue Holiday and a few role players, but were baffled by creative defense in back-to-back losses to the Hornets to close out the week. Giannis Antetokounmpo was an absolute beast, putting up 33.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game this week, while going 6 for 16 from 3-point range. Khris Middleton caught fire from the 3-point line, making 54 percent en route to averaging nearly 25 points per game this week. — 26-17

The Cavs put up a strong 3-1 week, with their only loss coming to the Warriors in a dismal offensive effort amid the hullabaloo of Klay Thompson’s return. Cleveland’s defense, it’s calling card all season, remained strong, while eight players averaged double-figure scoring for the week in a spread offensive attack. The fact that the Cavs were able to win two of their last three games with Darius Garland averaging just 10.7 points on 19 percent 3-point shooting is a great sign. 2 24-18

The Sixers’ seven-game winning streak came to an end with Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte, but Joel Embiid’s 30-point scoring streak is alive and well at eight games. The big man averaged 31 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists for the week, and you have to wonder what the 76ers will do about Ben Simmons with the trade deadline less than a month away. On one hand, Daryl Morey doesn’t want to accept anything less than what he considers fair value, but on the other hand he can’t be content with wasting a season like this from Embiid. 4 23-17

What an ugly week for the Jazz, who lost to the Raptors, Pacers, Pistons and Cavs — as pretty much every Utah player missed at least one game. Rudy Gobert missed all four games and they sorely missed him on the defensive end, allowing a jaw-dropping 123.2 points per 100 possessions in the losses. Donovan Mitchell led the way offensively, averaging 28 points and 5.7 assists on 44/41/92 shooting splits for the week. 8 28-14

An impressive win over the Bulls brought the Mavericks’ winning streak to six games, but it was snapped a couple of nights later in a blowout loss to the Knicks. Luka Doncic did not shoot well this week, but averaged 21.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists, while other Mavericks stepped up in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis. Josh Green put up back-to-back career-high scoring nights against the Rockets and Bulls, while Maxi Kleber averaged 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds on 52 percent 3-point shooting. 2 22-19

Toronto had another strong week, beating the Jazz and Pelicans before having their six-game win streak snapped in a close loss to the Suns without Scottie Barnes. Fred VanVleet continues his assault on the rest of the league, averaging 30 points and 6.3 assists this week on 41 percent 3-point shooting. OG Anunoby is also starting to hit his stride, averaging 20 points per game this week on 39 percent from deep. 1 20-18

The Wiz started off the week with a loss to the Bulls, but then beat the Thunder and the Magic twice with Bradley Beal in health and safety protocols. Kuzmania is running wild in the nation’s capital, as Kyle Kuzma averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds for the week, collecting a career-high 22 rebounds in the first win over Orlando and nearly notching his first career triple-double in the second. Thomas Bryant returned for his first game in over a year on Wednesday, notching six points in 12 minutes. — 22-20

Denver started off the week with wins over the Kings and Thunder, but blowing a 25-point lead in Tuesday’s loss to the short-handed Clippers prompted head coach Michael Malone to question the Nuggets’ competitiveness. Nikola Jokic’s greatness has become par for the course, as he put up 25.3 points, 13.7 rebounds and seven assists per game this week on 42 percent 3-point shooting. The question is whether he can get enough consistent help for Denver to be more than a .500 team. 1 20-19

The Knicks split consecutive games against the Celtics to start the week, then beat the Spurs and Mavericks handily to make it four wins in five games. New York is starting to re-establish the defensive identity that led to such a successful 2020-21 season, allowing fewer than 100 points in each of the last three games. Evan Fournier exploded for a career-high 41 points in the win over Boston, and RJ Barrett averaged 23.8 points on 54 percent 3-point shooting for the week. 6 21-21

After the season appeared to hit rock-bottom in a devastating loss to the Knicks last Thursday, the Celtics turned around and won three straight, including a rematch with the Knicks and consecutive wins over the Pacers. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown insist that they want to play together for at least the foreseeable future, and putting together a few wins in a row can only strengthen that confidence. Often criticized for his lack of creation for others, Brown racked up a career-high 11 assists in the win over New York. 1 21-21

The Clippers started off the week with losses to two of the best teams in the NBA, the Suns and Grizzlies, then bounced back for home wins over the Hawks and Nuggets. As the Clippers continue to navigate life without Paul George, Marcus Morris led the team with 20.5 points per game this week on 45 percent 3-point shooting, while Amir Coffey actually led the team in minutes with averages of 13.5 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on 47 percent 3-point shooting. 1 21-21

The Lakers’ win streak reached four games with a sound victory over the Hawks to start the week, but they followed that up with losses to the red-hot Grizzlies and the Kings. The defense continues to be a train wreck without Anthony Davis, allowing over 120 points per 100 possessions in the three games this week. LeBron James put up 33.7 points, eight rebounds and 7.3 assists per game for the week, while Malik Monk kept up his strong play with 19.3 points per game on blistering 58 percent 3-point shooting. 6 21-21

The Wolves ran their win streak to four games with wins over the Thunder and Rockets to start the week, then lost to the Pelicans on Brandon Ingram’s last-second, game-winning 3-pointer. The three-headed monster of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell was in full effect this week, with each averaging over 22 points per game and shooting better than 41 percent from 3-point range. Minnesota has a net rating of plus-16.8 with those three on the court together this season. 1 20-21

Trail Blazers
The extremely short-handed Blazers picked up two wins this week, including a big one over the Nets, but they also received the frustrating news that Damian Lillard will undergo abdominal surgery and is out indefinitely. CJ McCollum has yet to be cleared for 5-on-5, so the rough sledding will continue for Portland into the near future. The Blazers weren’t exactly setting the league on fire even with Lillard, so the outlook is bleak with their star set to miss at least six more weeks. 4 16-24

The Pelicans beat the short-handed Warriors to start the week, lost a close game to the Raptors, and then picked up a dramatic win over the Timberwolves on Brandon Ingram’s game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second remaining. It was a capper to a piping hot week for Ingram, who put up 29 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game on 55/61/91 shooting splits. 5 15-26

The Kings’ losing streak reached five games after dropping matchups with the Nuggets, Blazers and Cavs to start the week, but they finished things off with a solid win over the Lakers on Wednesday. Tyrese Haliburton averaged 16.5 points and 8.3 assists on 46 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while De’Aaron Fox led the team with 21.3 points per game. — 17-27

It’s never a good sign when one of your $100-plus million players is complaining about his role, as John Collins reportedly did this week. The ship continues to sink in Atlanta with three more losses this week, all by double-digits. Trae Young finally went cold, shooting just 35 percent from the field and going 3 for 19 from 3-point range, leading to a poor offensive showing for the team as the defense struggled like it has all season. It’s getting late to try to turn things around, but it’s certainly possible with this group. 4 17-23

The Pacers ended their six-game losing streak with a shocking win over the Jazz without the services of Caris LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon, powered by a career-high 42 points from Domantas Sabonis and 16 points and 14 assists from Indiana folk hero Lance Stephenson. They followed that up with back-to-back losses to the Celtics, however, to halt any momentum that could have been building. On the plus side, LeVert and Brogdon were able to return for the final game of the week. 4 15-27

The Pistons lost their second straight game by 30 points to start the week, but that awoke something within them as they rattled off back-to-back wins over the Magic and Jazz. Unfortunately that didn’t last long, as they lost by almost 50 points to the Bulls on Tuesday. Cade Cunningham had the best game of his young career in the win over Utah, putting up 29 points and eight assists on 5-for-9 3-point shooting. — 9-31

Houston started off the week with losses to the Mavs, Wolves and 76ers, but bounced back to pick up a road win over the Spurs on Wednesday. Christian Wood led the way offensively with 19.8 points and seven rebounds on 40 percent 3-point shooting over the four games, while rookie Josh Christopher put up 11.3 points in just under 22 minutes per game, going 5 for 13 from 3-point range. 1 12-31

The Spurs lost all four games this week with a handful of key players in health and safety protocols. They nearly pulled off a road upset over the Nets on Sunday, coming back from 14 points down to force overtime, but they lost when Lonnie Walker failed to get a shot off after a go-ahead floater from Cam Thomas with just under two seconds remaining. Dejounte Murray averaged 25.5 points for the week, and in Wednesday’s loss to the Rockets he became the only NBA player since 1982-83 besides Nikola Jokic to put up at least 32 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists without committing a turnover. 7 15-26

OKC’s losing streak sits at five after dropping games to the Wolves, Nuggets and Wizards this week. It’s hard for this team to win when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t in top form, and he struggled this week, shooting 40 percent from the field and going just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. Lu Dort returned to the lineup and averaged 16.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in the three games. 5 13-27

Three more losses for Orlando this week, to the Pistons and Wizards twice, which brings their overall losing streak to 10 games. They’ve had a hard time putting points on the board as Cole Anthony shot just 29 percent from the field this week and led the team in attempts. Terrence Ross is playing well, averaging 20.7 points on 43 percent shooting for the week, just as the trade deadline begins to appear on the horizon. — 7-35

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