Spurs No. 1 after crazy week
The first week of 2013 was Jekyll and Hyde Week in the Association. From top to bottom, several teams had both great wins and awful losses in the span of a few days.
Start with the New York Knicks, who lost to the Portland Trail Blazers at home, but then crushed the San Antonio Spurs two nights later. The Spurs, meanwhile, won their other three games (two against playoff teams) by an average of 24 points.
One of those blowout wins came against the Brooklyn Nets, who then smashed the Oklahoma City Thunder two nights later on the road. Brooklyn also walloped the Sacramento Kings, who were coming off a nice win in Toronto. Before that loss, the Raptors had smoked the Blazers, who had just won in New York.
The Memphis Grizzlies followed a nice win in Boston with a home loss to Portland. The Indiana Pacers followed an ugly loss in Boston with a blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Chicago Bulls lost at home to Charlotte (who had lost 18 straight) and won on the road in Miami. The Detroit Pistons also lost at home to Charlotte after beating the 20-10 Hawks.
Sure, we get mixed results every week. But not nearly as much as we've seen in the last seven days. And that, of course, makes putting the 30 teams in some sort of order all the more difficult. Good thing we get to try again next week.
• Last week: East is ugly from top to bottom
• This time last year: Sixers Rise and Jazz Surprise Teams playing the third night of a back-to-back-to-back were 6-0, the Sixers led the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, Boris Diaw and the Bobcats scored 118 points in New York, and the Nets put four Williams on the floor at the same time.
Nice Team of the Week: Portland (3-1) - With the Lakers continuing to struggle and the Wolves banged up, the door is open for the Blazers to snag a playoff spot. They helped their own cause with three impressive road wins last week.
Naughty Team of the Week: Washington (0-4) - Back to the Power Rankings basement they go.
Plus-minus Stud: Carlos Delfino (HOU) was a plus-67 in four games last week.
Plus-minus Dud: Kevin Seraphin (WAS) was a minus-48 in four games last week.
High jumps of the week: Houston (+4), Brooklyn (+3), Portland (+3)
Free falls of the week: Atlanta (-4), L.A. Lakers (-4), Minnesota (-3)
East vs. West: The West is 126-83 (.603) against the East in inter-conference games this season and was 14-9 last week.
Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Denver, 2. New Orleans, 3. San Antonio
Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Indiana 2. Oklahoma City 3. New York
Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league is averaging 94.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 102.3 points scored per 100 possessions.
NBA.com's Power Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Monday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, contact him via twitter.
San Antonio (27-9)|
Pace: 97.0 (2), OffRtg: 107.3 (5), DefRtg: 98.5 (5), NetRtg: +8.8 (3)
The Spurs have won eight of their last nine and the one loss (Thursday in New York) came on the fourth game in five nights, perhaps validating Gregg Popovich's decision to sit his stars in Miami at the end of November. The good news is that they don't have another four-in-five stretch until late March. The bad news is that the fourth game in that stretch is in Oklahoma City on TNT.
Last week: 2|
L.A. Clippers (27-8)|
Pace: 94.6 (14), OffRtg: 107.5 (4), DefRtg: 98.0 (3), NetRtg: +9.4 (2)
With the Clips playing a four-games-in-five-nights stretch against some good teams, you knew the streak was coming to an end. What you didn't know is that they could have two huge offensive games over the weekend without Jamal Crawford. Chris Paul proved that he can get buckets when he needs to, scoring 30 against the Lakers and 27 against the Warriors (in just 28 minutes).
Last week: 1|
Oklahoma City (26-7)|
Pace: 95.1 (8), OffRtg: 110.5 (1), DefRtg: 100.2 (8), NetRtg: +10.3 (1)
Reggie Jackson is the back-up point guard du jour for the Thunder. Individually, he's played better than Eric Maynor, but the Thunder's efficiency numbers are better with Maynor on the floor. As long as Russell Westbrook is scoring as efficiently as he has the last five games (25.6 points per game on 52 percent shooting), the identity of his backup doesn't matter much.
Last week: 3|
Pace: 94.0 (16), OffRtg: 109.3 (3), DefRtg: 102.2 (14), NetRtg: +7.1 (4)
It's time for the Heat to develop some toughness (and maybe some consistent defense) on the road. They're just 7-6 away from AmericanAirlines Arena thus far and begin a six-game trip with visits to Indiana (won 10 of 13), Portland (won 10 of 13), Sacramento (won six of last seven at home), Utah (10-4 at home), Golden State (11-4 at home), and L.A. (to face the Lakers for the first time).
Last week: 4|
Golden State (22-11)|
Pace: 96.5 (5), OffRtg: 104.5 (9), DefRtg: 100.8 (10), NetRtg: +3.7 (7)
Clippers-Warriors has turned into an interesting rivalry of teams that have combined for just four playoff appearances in the last 18 years. They traded blowouts last week and meet for the final time this season just 14 days from now. The Dubs can take fourth place in the West from the Grizzlies on Wednesday, but face the Blazers, Nuggets, Heat and Spurs after that.
Last week: 6|
New York (23-10)|
Pace: 93.6 (20), OffRtg: 109.6 (2), DefRtg: 102.9 (17), NetRtg: +6.7 (5)
Obligatory note: The Knicks are even (+0) in 38 minutes with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the floor together. Even though Stoudemire is just 10-for-25, the offense has been fine, but the defense continues to struggle. As concerning as Stoudemire's immobility inside is the perimeter, where Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni are getting burned by opposing point guards.
Last week: 5|
Pace: 96.7 (4), OffRtg: 105.1 (8), DefRtg: 102.0 (13), NetRtg: +3.0 (9)
A home game against the Wolves wasn't the one the Nuggets were supposed to lose last week, but when you can't shoot, unexpected losses will happen. The Nuggets shot 14-for-45 (31 percent) from outside the restricted area on Thursday, but also shut down the Clippers and Jazz last week and got a big three from Danilo Gallinari when they needed it in L.A. on Sunday.
Last week: 9|
Pace: 99.5 (1), OffRtg: 105.6 (7), DefRtg: 103.1 (18), NetRtg: +2.5 (10)
Remember when Jeremy Lin had a big game against the Spurs, because James Harden was out? At that point, the backcourt was a minus-34 together and the Rockets were 9-11. Since then, Lin and Harden are a plus-112 together and the Rockets are 11-3. They play 10 of their 14 remaining January games on the road, but have won five of their last six away from the Toyota Center.
Last week: 12|
Pace: 92.8 (25), OffRtg: 97.8 (29), DefRtg: 95.7 (1), NetRtg: +2.1 (12)
On the floor, the Pacers are still playing some ugly basketball. Off the bench, they're still not getting much production. But in the standings, they're starting to look more like the team we thought they'd be, having won 10 of their last 13 games. If they're really a top-four team in the East, they should be able to get at least one of their home games against the Heat and Knicks this week.
Last week: 11|
Pace: 92.7 (26), OffRtg: 100.3 (19), DefRtg: 96.3 (2), NetRtg: +4.0 (6)
Since their 14-3 start, the Grizzlies have gone 7-7 over the last month, putting their status as a top-four team in the West in jeopardy. Most of their issues lie with their bench, but the bottom line sometimes means more than what's happening on the floor. So trade rumors are swirling around Rudy Gay, who has two years and $37 million left on his contract after this season.
Last week: 8|
Pace: 93.8 (17), OffRtg: 102.1 (13), DefRtg: 100.0 (6), NetRtg: +2.1 (11)
The Hawks' defense was slipping near the end of December, but it was their offense that struggled in their three losses last week. They got to the line just seven times in Houston and then shot just 41 percent against the Pistons and Celtics. Josh Smith shot 4-for-18 on Saturday and has shot just 35 percent against Boston with Kevin Garnett on the floor over the last six seasons.
Last week: 7|
Pace: 92.6 (27), OffRtg: 99.6 (23), DefRtg: 98.4 (4), NetRtg: +1.2 (13)
After the Bulls managed to score just 81 points against the league's worst defense, Carlos Boozer led the way, totaling 58 points and 23 boards, in a pair of big offensive games in Orlando and Miami. Six of Boozer's seven highest scoring games have come on the road, where he's shooting 53 percent. He's shooting just 43 percent at home, where the Bulls play eight of their next 11.
Last week: 10|
Pace: 90.4 (29), OffRtg: 103.9 (10), DefRtg: 103.8 (21), NetRtg: +0.1 (14)
The Nets are in the midst of a soft stretch of schedule that should pad their record, but Wednesday's win in Oklahoma City was what they really needed. Their offense has been much improved under P.J. Carlesimo, scoring 108.3 points per 100 possessions in his six games as head coach. The additions of MarShon Brooks and Mirza Teletovic to the rotation could help sustain that.
Last week: 16|
Pace: 93.2 (22), OffRtg: 101.9 (14), DefRtg: 104.3 (23), NetRtg: -2.4 (21)
Last week, we gave you reasons not to believe in the Blazers: strength of schedule and point differential. Then they gave you reasons to believe in them: victories in New York, Memphis and Minnesota, with Nicolas Batum shooting 14-for-26 from 3-point range in the three wins. Their schedule-strength rank is now up to 21st, but it doesn't ease up until late next week.
Last week: 17|
Pace: 96.3 (7), OffRtg: 98.8 (27), DefRtg: 100.6 (9), NetRtg: -1.8 (18)
From Dec. 9 through Dec. 29, the Bucks had held nine of their 10 opponents under a point per possession, a stretch that was capped by a huge win over the Heat. But now they've allowed their last four opponents to score about 110 points per 100. The four-game losing streak has dropped them to seventh in the East, and they've got a road-heavy schedule over the next month.
Last week: 14|
Pace: 94.9 (10), OffRtg: 100.1 (20), DefRtg: 100.2 (7), NetRtg: -0.1 (15)
Kevin Love has refractured his right hand, Ricky Rubio is still dealing with back spasms, the Wolves have lost six of their last nine games, and they have a rough schedule over the next few weeks. It's not time to write them off like we've done with the Mavs, but the odds of making the playoffs have certainly improved for teams like the Jazz and Blazers, who won in Minny on Saturday.
Last week: 13|
Pace: 93.7 (19), OffRtg: 100.0 (21), DefRtg: 100.9 (11), NetRtg: -0.9 (16)
The Celtics have won two straight games ... against East playoff teams ... with great defense. Avery Bradley makes a difference, but this team has teased us like this before. So, before they begin a five-game homestand against some soft competition, Monday's visit to New York will be a great test of where the Celtics stand. A victory over a potent offense at MSG would feel like a real step forward.
Last week: 19|
Pace: 94.4 (15), OffRtg: 102.9 (11), DefRtg: 104.1 (22), NetRtg: -1.3 (17)
For just the second time in their last 15 games, the Jazz won the first quarter in Denver on Saturday. Then they got outscored 89-68 over the final 36 minutes. Alec Burks has been getting some burn of late, and, as part of a strong defensive second unit, he's a plus-55 in 146 minutes over the last nine games. The Jazz are just 3-6 (and not very good defensively overall) in that stretch.
Last week: 18|
L.A. Lakers (15-18)|
Pace: 96.9 (3), OffRtg: 106.4 (6), DefRtg: 103.2 (19), NetRtg: +3.2 (8)
Breaking news: Neither (noted defensive mastermind) Mike D'Antoni nor (reputed defensive stopper) Steve Nash has been able to solve the Lakers' defensive problems. They've allowed 105.3 points per 100 possessions in 23 games under D'Antoni and 106.8 in seven games since Nash's return. And now they play their next three games against the Rockets, Spurs and Thunder.
Last week: 15|
Pace: 92.5 (28), OffRtg: 101.0 (16), DefRtg: 103.3 (20), NetRtg: -2.3 (20)
The Pistons may not be the first team you're looking for when you're League Pass surfing, but if they're in the second quarter, leave the channel right there. Their second unit, featuring Will Bynum, Andre Drummond and some shooters, can be very fun to watch. Detroit has an OffRtg of 115 in 115 minutes with Bynum, Drummond, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva on the floor together.
Last week: 21|
Pace: 94.6 (13), OffRtg: 101.5 (15), DefRtg: 107.1 (29), NetRtg: -5.6 (26)
Though they got a blown out in Brooklyn on Saturday, a 2-2 road trip is pretty good for the Kings, who have the league's third-best offense since Dec. 19, even though Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins have combined to miss six of those games and Tyreke Evans hasn't played at all in that stretch. They play their next five games at home, where they've won six of their last seven.
Last week: 22|
Pace: 93.0 (24), OffRtg: 102.6 (12), DefRtg: 104.7 (25), NetRtg: -2.1 (19)
The Raptors came back down to earth over the weekend, getting torched by the Kings and Thunder. Those losses weren't on Alan Anderson, though. The 30 year old wasn't in the league 10 months ago, but he scored 47 points in the two weekend games and has averaged 14.5 points in 26 minutes since joining the rotation 11 games ago. He's also a plus-54 in that stretch.
Last week: 20|
Pace: 93.1 (23), OffRtg: 99.4 (25), DefRtg: 102.9 (16), NetRtg: -3.5 (23)
After that big game in Memphis, the Sixers' offense went in the tank (OffRtg: 92.4) over the last six games of their road trip. Evan Turner (27-for-71) and Nick Young (21-for-59) combined to shoot 37 percent in that stretch. They're three games behind the eighth-place Celtics in the loss column, but they play 13 of their next 15 games at home. Eight of the 15 are against teams at .500 or below.
Last week: 23|
Pace: 93.8 (18), OffRtg: 99.6 (24), DefRtg: 102.3 (15), NetRtg: -2.7 (22)
The Magic are now 0-8 without Glen Davis and still playing some awful defense, allowing more than 113 points per 100 possessions in the eight games. But they went down to the wire against the Heat, Bulls and Knicks last week. Nikola Vucevic totaled a ridiculous 59 rebounds in those three games, mastering the art of tipping the ball to himself. He's now averaging a double-double.
Last week: 24|
New Orleans (8-25)|
Pace: 90.1 (30), OffRtg: 100.5 (18), DefRtg: 107.0 (28), NetRtg: -6.4 (27)
Eric Gordon came back down to earth after that 24-point, seven-assist debut, but he got the game-winner in Dallas on Saturday. Anthony Davis continues to struggle defensively, especially when it comes to containing quick guards on the pick-and-roll. He played just 12 minutes against the Mavs, learning early what it's like to guard Dirk Nowitzki and picking up two quick fouls.
Last week: 27|
Pace: 96.4 (6), OffRtg: 99.7 (22), DefRtg: 104.7 (24), NetRtg: -5.0 (25)
Neither a comeback win in Washington nor a competitive game in Miami were able to stem the tide for the Mavs, who now have the same record as the Kings. They've lost 11 of their last 13 games and their schedule isn't going to offer them any relief any time soon. With a bunch of vets on short contracts, they will obviously be busy on the phones between now and the trade deadline.
Last week: 25|
Pace: 94.7 (12), OffRtg: 100.7 (17), DefRtg: 105.3 (26), NetRtg: -4.6 (24)
Michael Beasley has played just 14 minutes over the last four games. In a related story, the Suns' defense has been very good over the last three (the first was against OKC). But the offense struggled in losses to the Jazz and Grizzlies. On Dec. 19, they shot 17-for-28 from 3-point range. Since then, they've shot 40-for-154 (26 percent), with Shannon Brown leading the charge at 2-for-21.
Last week: 26|
Pace: 94.7 (11), OffRtg: 98.1 (28), DefRtg: 106.0 (27), NetRtg: -7.9 (28)
We got another game-winner from Kyrie Irving in Charlotte on Friday, but the Cavs' defense didn't give him a chance to do it again the next night against Houston, giving up 34 points in the fourth quarter. Irving has shot an impressive 47-for-99 (47.5 percent) in clutch situations (last five minutes of fourth quarter or OT, point differential of five points or less) in his two seasons.
Last week: 28|
Pace: 95.0 (9), OffRtg: 99.1 (26), DefRtg: 107.9 (30), NetRtg: -8.8 (29)
If you had the Bobcats ending their streak in Chicago, then you should ... Oh, nevermind. Nobody had the Bobcats ending their streak in Chicago ... or winning two games in seven days. They're now 3-1 in overtime and they're also undefeated (1-0) with Tyrus Thomas in the starting lineup, even though he shot just 6-for-20 in his two games back from a calf injury.
Last week: 30|
Pace: 93.6 (21), OffRtg: 92.7 (30), DefRtg: 101.7 (12), NetRtg: -9.1 (30)
John Wall may be a couple of weeks away from playing again, but the Wizards are finding new ways to lose in the meantime. The latest example was blowing an eight-point overtime lead to Brooklyn in 60 seconds on Friday and having their best player foul out by committing a foul 94 feet from the basket. At least Bradley Beal had an encouraging 10-for-19 performance in that one.
Last week: 29|