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Injuries deal tough blow to trio of title-contending squads

POSTED: Nov 25, 2013 11:18 AM ET

By John Schuhmann,


Marc Gasol's injury will put a serious kink in the Grizzlies' plans for the next few months.

This is the one thing we fear, a major injury to a major star on a championship contender. And that it was Derrick Rose, a guy who has played just 10 games in the last 18 months, makes it more painful.

So knock one title contender off the list and worry for the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors, who lost Marc Gasol and Andre Iguodala to injuries the same night that Rose went down. Both of those guys will be back, but the schedule will be unforgiving in the meantime.

Time will tell how the Power Rankings shake out. The Bulls and Warriors have already taken a dip, while the Grizzlies are actually up four spots, thanks to wins over the Clippers and Warriors before Gasol got hurt. That they were playing their best basketball of the early season makes his injury similarly tough to swallow.

* * *

• Last week: In season's early going, West clearly has the East's number

• This time last year: Heat on top with parity out West - The Bobcats were 7-5, the Wizards suffered a pair of painful, last-second losses on their way to an 0-12 start, Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving were both injured, and Harrison Barnes did Nikola Pekovic dirty.

• Plus-minus Stud: Chris Bosh (MIA) was a plus-57 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus Dud: Enes Kanter (UTAI) was a minus-63 in four games last week.

• Hero Team of the Week: Portland (4-0) -- The Blazers completed a 4-0 trip, came home to beat the Bulls, and then won at Golden State on the second night of a back-to-back. Their improvement on both ends of the floor is looking more and more legit.
• Zero Team of the Week: Brooklyn (0-4) -- The Nets scored 40 points in the first quarter against Portland on Monday, and it was all downhill from there.

• High jumps of the week: Toronto (+7), Washington (+7), DAL, DEN, MEM (+4)
• Free falls of the week: Orlando (-8), Brooklyn (-5), CHI, GSW, MIN (-4)

• East vs. West: The West is 43-17 (.717) against the East in interconference games and was 13-1 last week (20-1 since last Saturday).

• Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Memphis, 2. Utah, 3. New York
• Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Miami, 2. Indiana, 3. Oklahoma City
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) - Click here
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here

The league is averaging 97.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 101.4 points scored per 100 possessions.

* * *'s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man's opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via twitter.


Last week: 1

San Antonio (12-1)
Pace: 96.5 (13), OffRtg: 105.8 (6), DefRtg: 92.6 (2), NetRtg: +13.2 (1)
What's more amazing about the Spurs' hot start: that they're 12-1 with Tim Duncan shooting 39 percent or that they're 12-1 with three of their four most-used lineups holding a negative plus-minus? Their bench, aka "The Foreign Legion," has been fantastic and the starters are staying fresh. Only Tony Parker (30.3) is averaging more than 28 minutes a night. Wednesday's game in OKC is a must-watch.
This week: vs. NOP, @ OKC, @ ORL, vs. HOU


Last week: 2

Indiana (12-1)
Pace: 95.0 (25), OffRtg: 101.8 (14), DefRtg: 91.2 (1), NetRtg: +10.6 (2)
With three games against Atlantic Division teams, it should have been an easy week for the Pacers. But they trailed in the second half of all three games and needed an elbow tap from Iman Shumpert to beat the Knicks on Wednesday. Roy Hibbert looked like last November's Roy Hibbert, shooting 5-for-16 in New York and Boston, but broke out with 27 points against Philly on Saturday.
This week: vs. MIN, @ CHA, vs. WAS, @ LAC


Last week: 5

Miami (10-3)
Pace: 95.6 (20), OffRtg: 111.5 (1), DefRtg: 101.8 (13), NetRtg: +9.8 (3)
The Heat have quietly won six straight games, a streak that would be at 10 straight if it weren't for Jeff Green's miracle three. What's more important than the streak is that they're outscoring their opponents by 11.5 points per 100 possessions with LeBron James off the floor this season. Last season, they were a minus-1.6 with James on the bench. He got to sit out two fourth quarters last week.
This week: vs. PHX, @ CLE, @ TOR, vs. CHA


Last week: 6

Portland (12-2)
Pace: 96.2 (16), OffRtg: 107.1 (5), DefRtg: 101.3 (12), NetRtg: +5.7 (7)
Wesley Matthews is shooting 3-pointers like they're layups right now, and you had better guard him early, because he's hit 13 of his last 18 first-quarter threes. More importantly, the Blazers continue to hold their opponents in check from beyond the arc. Andre Iguodala was out for Golden State, but Portland certainly passed the first big defensive test of their 10-game winning streak on Saturday.
This week: vs. NYK, @ PHX, @ LAL


Last week: 3

L.A. Clippers (10-5)
Pace: 99.5 (6), OffRtg: 108.6 (2), DefRtg: 103.8 (23), NetRtg: +4.9 (8)
Chris Paul went into takeover mode in the fourth quarter in Minnesota on Wednesday, personally outscoring the Wolves 13-10 after they had cut the Clippers' lead to one. And yes, though Paul's usage rate goes up in the fourth quarter, his assist rate goes down. Unfortunately, the Clippers have been at their worst defensively in the fourth, allowing over 111 points per 100 possessions.
This week: vs. NYK, @ SAC, vs. IND


Last week: 7

Oklahoma City (9-3)
Pace: 99.2 (8), OffRtg: 104.2 (8), DefRtg: 98.0 (6), NetRtg: +6.2 (4)
We've been wondering about the Thunder's bench, but their starting lineup has been pretty terrible - on both ends of the floor - thus far. Kendrick Perkins has shot 13-for-31 (42 percent) in the paint and Thabo Sefolosha has shot 9-for-33 (27 percent) from 3-point range. After Sunday's interruption by the Jazz, the parade of Western Conference playoff contenders into OKC continues this week.
This week: vs. SAS, vs. GSW, vs. MIN


Last week: 10

Houston (9-5)
Pace: 100.1 (5), OffRtg: 108.3 (3), DefRtg: 102.1 (14), NetRtg: +6.2 (5)
Defense is still an issue, but the Rockets seem to have found their power forward. Terrence Jones has averaged 15.0 points on 59 percent shooting (7-for-13 from 3-point range) in his six games as a starter. Houston has scored 114 points per 100 possessions in the six games, but just one of the six was against a top-10 defense. They'll face some big frontlines over the next several games.
This week: @ MEM, vs. ATL, vs. BKN


Last week: 4

Golden State (8-6)
Pace: 98.4 (9), OffRtg: 103.3 (10), DefRtg: 97.4 (4), NetRtg: +5.9 (6)
In games that they've had both Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors are 8-2, scoring 108.0 points per 100 possessions. In games that they've been without one of the two, they're 0-4, scoring just 91.3. With seven of their next eight games on the road and five of those against potential West playoff teams, it's not a good time for Iguodala to be out indefinitely with a hamstring strain.
This week: @ NOP, @ DAL, @ OKC, @ SAC


Last week: 13

Dallas (9-5)
Pace: 99.4 (7), OffRtg: 107.1 (4), DefRtg: 103.7 (22), NetRtg: +3.4 (10)
You could almost look at Monta Ellis' assist numbers to know if the Mavs won or lost. They're 8-0 when he's recorded five or more dimes and 1-5 when he's had four or less. His two assists to Shawn Marion that put the Mavs ahead in the final two minutes of Wednesday's win over the Rockets were particularly sharp. Fifty-seven of Ellis' 76 assists have come in the restricted area or from 3-point range.
This week: vs. DEN, vs. GSW, @ ATL, vs. MIN


Last week: 14

Denver (6-6)
Pace: 101.2 (3), OffRtg: 102.3 (13), DefRtg: 102.4 (17), NetRtg: -0.1 (15)
The fourth quarter was the story with the Nuggets last week. They blew a 12-point lead in Oklahoma City on Monday, put the Bulls away with a 13-0 run to start the fourth on Thursday, and beat the Mavs on Saturday with Randy Foye's 3-pointer and a few stops down the stretch. They've won five straight at home, but play eight of their next nine on the road, including a six-game, nine-day trip through the East.
This week: @ DAL, @ MIN, vs. NYK, @ TOR


Last week: 11

Atlanta (8-6)
Pace: 98.0 (11), OffRtg: 102.5 (11), DefRtg: 100.5 (10), NetRtg: +2.1 (14)
Did anyone know that Paul Millsap had this in him? The Hawks' offense struggled - scoring just 95 points per 100 possessions in four games - last week, but Kyle Korver is still going and could pass Dana Barros' record of 3-pointers in 89 straight games on Friday. Korver is at 87 straight and is averaging 5.5 3-point attempts during the streak. He's missed five threes only once in his last 39 games.
This week: vs. ORL, @ HOU, vs. DAL, @ WAS


Last week: 8

Chicago (6-6)
Pace: 95.6 (19), OffRtg: 96.9 (25), DefRtg: 97.2 (3), NetRtg: -0.3 (16)
Derrick Rose's latest knee injury, a torn meniscus which may keep him out for the remainder of the season, is a fatal blow to the Bulls' hopes of contending for a title. Now you really have to wonder what happens with Luol Deng, who's on an expiring contract and possibly not a part of Chicago's long-term plans. And oh yeah, this just makes the Eastern Conference that much worse than it already is.
This week: @ UTA, @ DET, @ CLE


Last week: 9

Minnesota (8-7)
Pace: 101.5 (2), OffRtg: 103.5 (9), DefRtg: 99.1 (8), NetRtg: +4.4 (9)
Corey Brewer leads the league in fast break points, but transition defense was surely a topic of conversation in the Wolves' film sessions this week, as they allowed the Wizards and Clippers to rack up 58 fast break points in back-to-back losses. They've lost four straight within the conference and play four big games against the West (plus meetings with the Pacers and Heat) in the next two weeks.
This week: @ IND, vs. DEN, @ DAL, @ OKC


Last week: 18

Memphis (7-6)
Pace: 92.2 (30), OffRtg: 100.2 (17), DefRtg: 103.0 (19), NetRtg: -2.8 (20)
Just when the Grizzlies were starting to look like the Grizzlies we know - beating all four California teams on an impressive trip - they lost Marc Gasol to a sprained MCL in Saturday's loss to the Spurs. The DPOY's absence will obviously hurt, but this is where the trade for Kosta Koufos could pay off. Koufos started 81 games last year for the No. 3 seed Nuggets, who were at their best with him on the floor.
This week: vs. HOU, @ BOS, vs. BKN


Last week: 12

Phoenix (7-6)
Pace: 97.8 (12), OffRtg: 101.7 (15), DefRtg: 98.9 (7), NetRtg: +2.9 (11)
There's definitely been some jersey switching going on in Phoenix. Since winning Player of the Week, the guy wearing Markieff Morris' No. 11 has shot just 14-for-45 (31 percent). In the same time, the guy wearing Marcus Morris' No. 15 has shot 28-for-48 (58 percent), including 9-for-17 from 3-point range. Monday's game in Miami would be a lot more fun if Eric Bledsoe was back from his shin injury.
This week: @ MIA, vs. POR, @ UTA, vs. UTA


Last week: 16

New Orleans (6-6)
Pace: 96.2 (18), OffRtg: 105.4 (7), DefRtg: 102.8 (18), NetRtg: +2.6 (12)
The Pelicans are 3-0 with Ryan Anderson, who has made 13 of his 21 threes since returning from his toe injury. They've scored almost 120 points per 100 possessions in those three games, and it was that lineup of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anderson and Anthony Davis that made a 19-5 run to win Friday's game against the Cavs. The schedule gets tough over the next few weeks.
This week: @ SAS, vs. GSW, @ PHI, @ NYK


Last week: 19

L.A. Lakers (7-7)
Pace: 100.5 (4), OffRtg: 99.3 (21), DefRtg: 101.3 (11), NetRtg: -1.9 (17)
Will Kobe Bryant return this week? The Lakers' offense doesn't need a lift as much as it did a week ago, having scored 109 points per 100 possessions over a three-game winning streak that has them back at .500. Pau Gasol has shot 50 percent and or better in two straight games for the first time this season, Jodie Meeks is finding a groove, and they're facing some bad defenses on this trip East.
This week: @ WAS, @ BKN, @ DET, vs. POR


Last week: 25

Toronto (6-7)
Pace: 94.4 (27), OffRtg: 101.6 (16), DefRtg: 99.1 (9), NetRtg: +2.5 (13)
The Raptors are lacking in the quality win department, but that doesn't matter in the East, and especially not in the Atlantic Division. The offense is coming around, with DeMar DeRozan having one of the best stretches of his career. Since that game when he and Rudy Gay combined to shoot 17-for-62, DeRozan has averaged 26.8 points on 51 percent shooting, including 9-for-19 from 3-point range.
This week: vs. BKN, vs. MIA, vs. DEN


Last week: 20

Charlotte (7-7)
Pace: 93.9 (28), OffRtg: 95.1 (27), DefRtg: 97.9 (5), NetRtg: -2.8 (21)
The Bobcats have been the worst jump-shooting team in the league, with an effective field goal percentage of 32.4 percent from outside the paint. But their defense has been strong, they've outscored their opponents by 70 points in the paint over their last four games, and they have Al Jefferson back. They're not the fifth best team in the East, but this 7-7 start is more legit than last year's 7-5 mark.
This week: vs. BOS, vs. IND, vs. MIL, @ MIA


Last week: 17

Philadelphia (6-9)
Pace: 102.0 (1), OffRtg: 98.7 (23), DefRtg: 104.5 (24), NetRtg: -5.8 (24)
The Sixers came up with another miracle victory at home, coming back from 10 down with two minutes left to beat the Bucks in OT, thanks to this Hawesome shot. And though they were missing Michael Carter-Williams on Monday and both Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young on Saturday, they were competitive in both Dallas and Indiana, totaling 41 offensive rebounds in the two games.
This week: @ ORL, vs. NOP, @ DET


Last week: 28

Washington (5-8)
Pace: 96.3 (15), OffRtg: 100.2 (19), DefRtg: 103.1 (20), NetRtg: -2.9 (22)
The Wizards' defense isn't what it was last season, but the offense is showing signs of being somewhat decent. After shooting 29 percent over his previous four games, John Wall scored 68 points on 25-for-39 shooting against the Raptors and Knicks over the weekend. Earlier in the week, the Wiz topped 30 assists against both the Wolves and Cavs, with this go-ahead possession being the highlight.
This week: vs. LAL, @ MIL, @ IND, vs. ATL


Last week: 21

Detroit (5-8)
Pace: 95.2 (23), OffRtg: 102.4 (12), DefRtg: 104.6 (26), NetRtg: -2.2 (19)
Has Kentavious Caldwell-Pope solved the Pistons' defensive problems? They've allowed just 100.8 points per 100 possessions in the six games he's started and just 97.8 with him on the floor. He hasn't exactly solved Detroit's spacing issues, shooting 28 percent (6-for-28 from 3-point range) in those six games, but one step at a time. A soft homestand could help them build some momentum.
This week: vs. MIL, vs. CHI, vs. LAL, vs. PHI


Last week: 15

Orlando (4-9)
Pace: 98.3 (10), OffRtg: 100.2 (18), DefRtg: 102.3 (16), NetRtg: -2.1 (18)
The Magic's only win in the last 18 days was a down-to-the-wire victory over the 2-10 Bucks. But Glen Davis made his season debut on Saturday and almost carried them to a win in Miami. Then Tobias Harris made his debut on Sunday and the two were a plus-4 in 16 minutes together off the bench against the Suns. Jameer Nelson and Victor Oladipo, meanwhile, were a minus-38 in Oladipo's three starts.
This week: @ ATL, vs. PHI, vs. SAS


Last week: 26

Sacramento (4-9)
Pace: 95.5 (21), OffRtg: 99.9 (20), DefRtg: 104.6 (25), NetRtg: -4.6 (23)
Marcus Thornton was replaced by Jimmer Fredette in the Kings' rotation last week and almost went on a three-game winning streak, coming a possession away from beating the Clippers on Saturday. Of course, Mike Malone wasn't feeling the positive vibes, saying his team "caught a break" with two wins over the Bledsoe-less Suns. With no games until Friday, he gets some practice time this week.
This week: vs. LAC, vs. GSW


Last week: 23

Boston (5-10)
Pace: 96.4 (14), OffRtg: 95.7 (26), DefRtg: 102.3 (15), NetRtg: -6.6 (26)
On the roller-coaster ride of the Celtics' season, Jared Sullinger has been rather consistent. In his first three starts last week, he averaged 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, though he may want to dial back on the 3-point shooting (7-for-28 this season). Boston has been decent with Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk on the floor together, but Olynyk is out a couple of weeks with a sprained ankle.
This week: @ CHA, vs. MEM, vs. CLE, @ MIL


Last week: 24

New York (3-9)
Pace: 93.6 (29), OffRtg: 98.9 (22), DefRtg: 105.1 (28), NetRtg: -6.2 (25)
The Knicks' injury situation got worse last week as Raymond Felton was lost to a pinched nerve in his hip and Metta World Peace revealed that he's had his knee drained twice. They came one stop from beating the Pacers on Wednesday, but have lost five straight, allowing 109.3 points per 100 possessions. And yeah, they have a seriously challenging week ahead, facing three top-7 offenses.
This week: @ POR, @ LAC, @ DEN, vs. NOP


Last week: 22

Brooklyn (3-10)
Pace: 95.3 (22), OffRtg: 98.5 (24), DefRtg: 106.3 (29), NetRtg: -7.8 (27)
Though their problems extend well beyond his absence, the Nets desperately need Brook Lopez back, and for his defense more than anything. They've allowed over 113 points per 100 possessions in the five games he's missed and have allowed just 98.7 in his 244 minutes on the floor. After going 0-for-5 against Detroit on Sunday, Kevin Garnett is now shooting 10-for-44 in the second half of games.
This week: @ TOR, vs. LAL, @ HOU, @ MEM


Last week: 27

Cleveland (4-10)
Pace: 96.2 (17), OffRtg: 94.9 (28), DefRtg: 103.2 (21), NetRtg: -8.3 (28)
It was another ugly week in Cleveland. After Wednesday's loss to the Wizards, Mike Brown said that Matthew Dellavedova was the only Cav who "competed the entire time he was on the floor." Then they blew a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead in New Orleans and got smoked in San Antonio. One positive: Anthony Bennett shot 4-for-5 on Saturday, increasing his field goal percentage from 14 to 21 percent.
This week: vs. MIA, @ BOS, vs. CHI


Last week: 29

Milwaukee (2-10)
Pace: 94.5 (26), OffRtg: 93.2 (29), DefRtg: 104.7 (27), NetRtg: -11.4 (29)
The Bucks are getting some guys back from injury and, starting Friday, were playing 10 straight games against teams with losing records. But they blew a 10-point lead with two minutes to go in Philadelphia and then got blown out at home by the Bobcats, getting outscored in the paint by 20-plus points each night. They would be tied for 30th in these Power Rankings if ties were possible.
This week: @ DET, vs. WAS, @ CHA, vs. BOS


Last week: 30

Utah (1-14)
Pace: 95.1 (24), OffRtg: 92.3 (30), DefRtg: 106.3 (30), NetRtg: -14.1 (30)
It's hard to see any winnable games on the horizon and they trailed three of their last four games by at least 28 points, but the Jazz do have Trey Burke back. The Utah offense cracked the point-per-possession mark in the rookie's first two games (after cracking it just twice in their first 12), but was better with Diante Garrett, who is somehow a plus-24 with this team, on the floor.
This week: vs. CHI, vs. PHX, @ PHX