NBA power rankings: Suns, Grizzlies, Warriors run for No. 1 in West; Heat is on in East

·9 min read
Brandon Dill/AP

* Through games played 1/20

1. Phoenix Suns (35-9)

Last week: 1

The Suns went out on a five-game road trip and ran the table, beating the Raptors, Pacers, Pistons, Spurs and Mavericks by an average of 14.2 points per game. Devin Booker poured in 48 points in Monday’s win over San Antonio. He had 28 in a 109-101 win over the Mavericks on Thursday. Deandre Ayton missed the past two games with a right ankle sprain, but Phoenix still has plenty of firepower around Booker and Chris Paul. Booker is averaging 27.9 points per game in January. Paul has been remarkable in his 17th season, averaging 13.9 points, 10.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals.

2. Memphis Grizzlies (31-16)

Last week: 2

The Grizzlies are coming off a 126-114 loss to the Bucks as they head into Denver for a big game against the Nuggets on Friday. Memphis has lost two of its last three games after winning 11 in a row. The winning streak ended with a humbling 27-point loss to the Mavericks. The Grizzlies bounced back with an impressive win over the Bulls. They couldn’t beat the Bucks despite 33 points and 14 assists from Ja Morant, but the Grizzlies were not at full strength with Kyle Anderson (health and safety protocols), Desmond Bane (health and safety protocols) and Dillon Brooks (ankle) out of action.

3. Golden State Warriors (32-13)

Last week: 3

The Warriors took another loss Thursday, this time falling 121-117 to the Pacers in an overtime game at Chase Center despite a 39-point performance from Stephen Curry. Curry is trying to shake out of his shooting slump after missing a game due to a quad contusion. He made 25 of 53 (.472) from the field over the past three games after going 63 of 144 (.438) over his previous nine games. The Warriors haven’t fared well in the midst of Curry’s struggles, losing six of their last nine games. They will face the Rockets on Friday before Sunday’s showdown with the Jazz.

4. Miami Heat (29-16)

Last week: 6

The Heat is on the Eastern Conference, where Miami has won six of seven to tie the Bulls for the No. 1 seed. The Heat suffered a 109-98 loss to the 76ers before posting back-to-back wins over the Raptors and Blazers. Jimmy Butler was ejected against the Blazers for “egregiousness of profanity.”

5. Brooklyn Nets (28-16)

Last week: 7

Kevin Durant was playing at an MVP level, but he is expected to miss four to six weeks after an MRI revealed a sprained MCL in his left knee. Can the Nets keep pace in the East with James Harden and Kyrie Irving, who isn’t allowed to play in home games? Maybe. Irving scored 30 points in Wednesday’s 119-118 victory over the Wizards.

6. Philadelphia 76ers (26-18)

Last week: 8

Joel Embiid recorded the second 50-point game of his career in Wednesday’s victory over the Magic. Embiid went 17 of 23 from the field and 15 of 17 at the free-throw line. While Ben Simmons trade rumors swirl, Embiid is making his case for MVP. He is leading the league in scoring over the past 15 games, averaging 33.1 points on 55% shooting.

7. Chicago Bulls (28-15)

Last week: 4

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points to help the Bulls snap their season-long four-game losing streak with a 117-104 win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday. That was a tough stretch with losses to the Nets, Warriors, Celtics and Grizzlies. The Bulls have another tough game coming up against the Bucks on Friday.

8. Utah Jazz (29-16)

Last week: 5

Utah is reeling after dropping six of its last seven games with losses to the Raptors, Pacers, Pistons, Cavaliers, Lakers and Rockets. Donovan Mitchell missed Wednesday’s 116-111 loss to the Rockets under concussion protocols. Rudy Gay (foot) and Hassan Whiteside (health and safety protocols) were out as well.

9. Milwaukee Bucks (28-19)

Last week: 9

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in a 126-114 victory over the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Milwaukee has experienced a cold spell while losing six of nine over the past couple of weeks. The wins came against the Nets, Warriors and Grizzlies. The losses came at the hands of the Pistons, Raptors (2), Hornets (2) and Hawks.

10. Dallas Mavericks (26-20)

Last week: 10

The Mavericks had won four in a row and 10 of their last 11 before suffering a 109-101 loss to the Suns on Thursday. Luka Doncic had a huge game in Wednesday’s win over the Raptors, posting 41 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

11. Cleveland Cavaliers (27-19)

Last week: 11

The Cavaliers are coming off a 117-104 loss to the Bulls despite 28 points from Lauri Markkanen, but they had won five in a row and seven of nine. Evan Mobley continues to lead Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes in the Rookie of the Year race.

12. Charlotte Hornets (25-20)

Last week: 12

The Hornets have won six of seven to move five games over .500. That stretch includes wins over the Bucks (2), 76ers, Knicks and Celtics. Miles Bridges had 38 points and 12 rebounds in Monday’s win over the Knicks.

13. Denver Nuggets (23-20)

Last week: 13

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had a gargantuan performance with 49 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in Wednesday’s overtime victory over the Clippers. The Nuggets have won three of four and five of seven with a big game against the Grizzlies coming up on Friday.

14. Washington Wizards (23-22)

Last week: 18

The Wizards have won four of their last six. Montrezl Harrell came off the bench to score 18 points in a 117-98 victory over the 76ers on Monday. Kyle Kuzma had 15 points and 16 rebounds.

15. New York Knicks (22-24)

Last week: 14

The Knicks are coming off back-to-back losses to the Timberwolves and Pelicans. They are 11th in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Raptors for the final play-in berth.

16. Los Angeles Lakers (22-23)

Last week: 15

The situation in Los Angeles is getting messy. The Lakers have lost four of their last five despite some big games from LeBron James with rampant speculation about Russell Westbrook’s fit and coach Frank Vogel’s job security.

17. Toronto Raptors (21-21)

Last week: 16

Pascal Siakam scored 30 points in an impressive win over the Bucks on Saturday on the second night of a road back-to-back, but the Raptors have lost four of their last five games.

18. Los Angeles Clippers (22-24)

Last week: 17

Ivica Zubac had 32 points and 10 rebounds in an overtime loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday. The Clippers have lost three of four and six of their last nine with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George out due to injuries.

19. Boston Celtics (23-23)

Last week: 19

The Celtics had won five of six, including wins over the Knicks and Bulls, before suffering a 111-102 loss to the Hornets on Wednesday. Jayson Tatum was held to 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (22-23)

Last week: 20

The Timberwolves took a loss to the Hawks on Wednesday despite 31 points from D’Angelo Russell. Minnesota had won six of eight, including back-to-back wins over the Warriors and Knicks.

21. Atlanta Hawks (19-25)

Last week: 21

The Hawks had lost five in a row and 11 of 14, but now they are coming off back-to-back wins over the Bucks and Timberwolves. Trae Young had 30 in the win over Milwaukee. He had 37 against Minnesota.

22. Portland Trail Blazers (18-26)

Last week: 22

CJ McCollum has returned after missing six weeks with a collapsed lung, but Damian Lillard is expected to miss at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal injury.

23. San Antonio Spurs (17-28)

Last week: 25

The Spurs have won two of their last three games with victories over the Clippers and Thunder after losing nine of 10. Dejounte Murray had a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in the win over OKC.

24. Indiana Pacers (17-29)

Last week: 24

The Pacers had back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Warriors despite the absence of Myles Turner, who is out at least two weeks with a foot injury. Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert have all been the subject of trade rumors.

25. Sacramento Kings (18-29)

Last week: 23

Two steps forward. Two steps back. The Kings beat the Lakers and Rockets before losing to the Rockets and Pistons. Terence Davis had a career-high 35 points against Detroit, but the Kings blew a nine-point lead over the final 2:10 with trade winds swirling in Sacramento.

26. New Orleans Pelicans (17-28)

Last week: 26

Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 10 rebounds in a 102-91 win over the Knicks on Thursday. Brandon Ingram went down with a right ankle sprain in that game. He will be reevaluated when the team returns to New Orleans.

27. Houston Rockets (14-32)

Last week: 29

The Rockets are on a little bit of a roll. They beat the Spurs and the Kings before stunning the Jazz in a 116-111 victory over the Jazz on Wednesday. Garrison Mathews had 23 points and Christian Wood grabbed 15 rebounds.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-30)

Last week: 27

The Thunder has lost eight of its last nine games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 34 in a 104-102 loss to the Mavericks on Monday, but he was held to 13 points on 5-of-21 shooting in Wednesday’s 118-96 loss to the Spurs.

29. Detroit Pistons (11-33)

Last week: 28

The Pistons had their highest-scoring game of the season in a 133-131 victory over the Kings on Wednesday despite the absences of Jerami Grant, Killian Hayes and others. Detroit ended the game on an 11-0 run behind 30 points from Saddiq Bey.

30. Orlando Magic (8-38)

Last week: 30

Mo Bamba erupted for a career-high 32 points in Wednesday’s loss to the 76ers, going 12 of 15 from the field and 7 of 8 from 3-point range. Orlando has lost 13 of 14.

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