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Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Chase for No. 8 seed in West heats up

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Mar 6, 2017 12:11 PM ET

1:05

With 933 of 1,230 games in the books, we've hit the three-quarter mark of the 2016-17 season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, though they're each missing one of their best players for an extended absence, remain clear favorites to get back to The Finals. Though Golden State hasn't surpassed last season's win total, it has the best point differential (plus-12.1 points per 100 possessions) of the last 20 years. And as long as LeBron James is healthy and has shooters around him, the Cavs are a matchup problem for any team in the East.

But there is still a lot to be determined over the final six weeks of the season. And the race for the final playoff spot in the West is getting more interesting.

The Sacramento Kings are taking themselves out of it, but the other four teams chasing the Denver Nuggets are still very much alive. The Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves are a combined 10-6 since the All-Star break, and the New Orleans Pelicans have an All-Star frontline that could figure things out at any point.

In the East, there are still five or six teams fighting for the final two or three playoff spots. And while teams below them are fighting for the chance to face them in the playoffs, there will be six games this week between the eight teams that are at least 12 games over .500, starting with Rockets-Spurs and Celtics-Clippers on Monday.

  • Hero team of the week: Phoenix (3-1) -- Break up the Suns! The youth movement in Phoenix has led to the team's first three-game winning streak since Nov. 2015, with weekend wins coming against the Thunder and Celtics.
  • Zero team of the week: Sacramento (0-3) -- The Lakers (0-3) and Kings were the only winless teams last week and the Kings won the ZTotW tie-breaker by helping Brooklyn put an end to its 16-game losing streak.
  • East vs. West: The West is 202-167 (.547) against the East in interconference games after going 12-10 last week.
  • Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Brooklyn, 2. L.A. Lakers, 3. Phoenix
  • Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Utah, 2. Golden State, 3. Washington
  • Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
  • High jumps of the week: Minnesota (+3), Phoenix (+3), Five teams (+2)
  • Free falls of the week: Sacramento (-7), Four teams (-2)
  • Team to watch this week: San Antonio -- The league's No. 1 defense will play host to the league's top two offenses, facing the Rockets on Monday and the Warriors on Sunday, with a visit to Oklahoma City in between.

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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 has averaged 98.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 106.0 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

* * *

NBA.com'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.

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1
Last week:
1

Record: 51-11
Pace: 103.0 (1) OffRtg: 113.5 (1) DefRtg: 101.4 (2) NetRtg: +12.1 (1)

The Warriors became the first team to lose more games than they did last season and, more importantly, they lost Kevin Durant (to an MCL sprain) for at least four weeks in the process. The offense struggled until the second half in New York on Sunday, but the defense could be the bigger concern long-term without Durant. Saturday's game against the Spurs would be one of the most anticipated of the season if it weren't for the schedule leading up to it. After finishing up their current five-game trip on Monday, the Warriors go home from Atlanta for just a single game, and then back out for a road back-to-back in cities that are more than 1,000 miles apart.

This week: @ ATL, vs. BOS, @ MIN, @ SAS

2
Last week:
2

Record: 48-13
Pace: 96.8 (26) OffRtg: 109.6 (5) DefRtg: 100.6 (1) NetRtg: +9.0 (2)

In the league's highest scoring season of the last 26 years, you don't see many overtime games where the winning team scores 101 points or less. But the Spurs had two in back-to-back nights, holding both the Pelicans and Timberwolves under 90 points per 100 possessions. Kawhi Leonard has scored 30-plus in three straight games and they're getting more offense from Pau Gasol, who has looked comfortable coming off the bench, averaging 16.0 points on 57 percent shooting in his five games back. The Spurs have won seven straight games, are just two in the loss column behind the Warriors, and will have a rest advantage when they host Golden State on Saturday.

This week: vs. HOU, vs. SAC, @ OKC, vs. GSW

3
Last week:
3

Record: 44-19
Pace: 101.9 (4) OffRtg: 112.2 (2) DefRtg: 105.6 (14) NetRtg: +6.5 (3)

Monday's loss to Indiana dropped the Rockets to 15-16 when they don't shoot at least 37 percent from 3-point range. But wins over the Clippers improved them to 29-3 when they do. They have the No. 1 post-break offense by a wide margin, having taken 57 percent of their shots from 3-point range, up from 46 percent (which was already an all-time record) before the break. The amazing thing is that they've seen only a small reduction in layups or dunks. They've cut down the percentage of their shots that have come from between the restricted area and 3-point range from 19.4 percent before the break to just 11.0 percent since the break. No team is more locked into its playoff spot than the Rockets, but they have a fun week ahead.

This week: @ SAS, vs. UTA, @ CHI, vs. CLE

4
Last week:
4

Record: 42-19
Pace: 98.9 (15) OffRtg: 111.1 (3) DefRtg: 107.3 (22) NetRtg: +3.8 (6)

LeBron James gave Deron Williams the game-winning shot in Williams' first game with the Cavs. He missed and is 0-for-6 from 3-point range (and a minus-15) with his new team, somehow not a part of the single-game record (25 threes) the Cavs set in Atlanta on Friday. It's all about the long view, though. After playing more than 79 minutes on Wednesday and Friday, James got a day off in Miami. The Cavs play three bottom-10 offenses this week, but rank last defensively since the All-Star break after getting thumped by one of those three without James on Saturday.

This week: vs. MIA, @ DET, @ ORL, @ HOU

5
Last week:
6

Record: 40-23
Pace: 98.9 (14) OffRtg: 108.9 (7) DefRtg: 105.7 (15) NetRtg: +3.2 (7)

Their road trip is about to get a lot tougher and they're a little banged up, so turning a two-point lead over the Suns into a three-point loss in less than five seconds was not a good way to end the week for the Celtics. They did get a big win over the Cavs on Wednesday, holding the league's No. 3 offense under a point per possession with Avery Bradley harassing Kyrie Irving into a tough shot with the game on the line. Though he's had some decision-making issues, Jaylen Brown continues to give them pretty consistent production, having scored 13-plus points in five of his six games since the break.

This week: @ LAC, @ GSW, @ DEN, vs. CHI

6
Last week:
7

Record: 37-24
Pace: 99.4 (12) OffRtg: 107.9 (9) DefRtg: 105.2 (11) NetRtg: +2.7 (9)

After getting a big win over the Warriors on Monday, the Wizards could have really put some distance between themselves and the Lowry-less Raptors for the all-important No. 3-seed in the East with a home-and-home sweep. But their bench was dreadful (they were outscored by 23 points in 24 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor) in Friday's loss in D.C. Bojan Bogdanovic redeemed himself with eight threes, including the game-winner, against Orlando on Sunday and ranks as the league's best post-break shooter (minimum 50 FGA) with an effective field goal percentage of 71.4 percent (thanks to that game, mostly).

This week: @ PHX, @ DEN, @ SAC, @ POR

7
Last week:
5

Record: 39-24
Pace: 93.7 (30) OffRtg: 107.0 (12) DefRtg: 101.9 (3) NetRtg: +5.1 (4)

After allowing 116 points per 100 possessions to the Thunder and Wolves in a back-to-back, the Jazz were saved by a visit from the Nets on Friday, by Rudy Gobert's tip-in on Sunday, and by big games from each their starting guards. George Hill had 34 points against Brooklyn, while Rodney Hood returned from a two-game absence to drop 28 against Sacramento. Tuesday's loss in Oklahoma City was their seventh straight defeat against their fellow West playoff teams with seven games remaining against the group. Five of the seven, including the two this week, are on the road.

This week: vs. NOP, @ HOU, @ OKC

8
Last week:
8

Record: 35-28
Pace: 100.7 (7) OffRtg: 104.2 (21) DefRtg: 105.1 (10) NetRtg: -0.9 (17)

The Thunder are 0-3 in March and have lost their last seven road games, scoring just 94 points per 100 possessions with Russell Westbrook shooting 35 percent. They're missing Victor Oladipo (back spasms) and haven't gotten much from Doug McDermott beyond one good game against Utah on Tuesday. They was their fourth straight win at home, where they'll play six of their next eight games, with the next two against teams playing the second night of a back-to-back. Three straight nights of single-digit assists have Westbrook at 633 in 63 games, in danger of losing his triple-double average

This week: vs. POR, vs. SAS, vs. UTA

9
Last week:
9

Record: 37-26
Pace: 97.4 (23) OffRtg: 110.6 (4) DefRtg: 105.9 (17) NetRtg: +4.7 (5)

The Raptors are 5-2 without Kyle Lowry (who is out at least until the end of the month after having wrist surgery), getting a game-winner from DeMar DeRozan in New York on Monday and quality minutes from their bench in Washington on Friday. Splitting the home-and-home with the Wizards kept them very much in a fight for the 3 seed, but both DeRozan (11 points, 5-for-13 shooting) and the bench (they were a minus-13 with at least one reserve on the floor) had rough nights in Milwaukee on Saturday. They've been outscored by more than 15 points per 100 possessions with Serge Ibaka at power forward, but are a plus-22.7 points per 100 possessions in 108 minutes with Ibaka at center.

This week: @ NOP, @ ATL, @ MIA

10
Last week:
10

Record: 37-25
Pace: 98.6 (18) OffRtg: 108.9 (8) DefRtg: 105.8 (16) NetRtg: +3.1 (8)

The Clippers got a much-needed, ugly win in Chicago on Saturday, but have seen the league's biggest NetRtg drop-off (from plus-4.2 to minus-7.2) since the All-Star break, with the bigger drop-off coming on defense. Their four post-break losses have been against the four top-10 offenses they've faced, and they'll host another top-10 offense on Monday before heading back out for their second central time zone back-to-back in seven days. They have the league's worst aggregate bench NetRtg (minus-18.7 points per 100 possessions) since the break and have been outscored by 24.5 points per 100 possessions with Chris Paul off the floor in the six games, with Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers holding the worst two-man NetRtg (minus-25.8) among combinations that have played at least 100 post-break minutes.

This week: vs. BOS, @ MIN, @ MEM, vs. PHI

11
Last week:
11

Record: 36-27
Pace: 95.4 (28) OffRtg: 104.8 (17) DefRtg: 103.6 (4) NetRtg: +1.2 (10)

After weekend losses in Dallas and Houston, the Grizzlies rank 17th in road defense (108.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). But they have the league's best home defense (98.6) with a four-game homestand starting on Monday. David Fizdale continues to roll with Chandler Parsons, who has shot 7-for-29 since the All-Star break. Though Troy Daniels (9-for-29) hasn't shot much better, the Grizzlies have been at their best with reserves on the floor. Their starting lineup has been outscored by 21.0 points per 100 possessions since the break, the fourth worst mark among 23 lineups that have played at least 50 post-break minutes.

This week: vs. BKN, vs. LAC, vs. ATL

12
Last week:
14

Record: 32-30
Pace: 98.9 (16) OffRtg: 105.5 (14) DefRtg: 106.3 (18) NetRtg: -0.8 (16)

Before Glenn Robinson III hit the game-winner in Atlanta on Sunday, Paul George broke out of his slump (29 percent shooting over his previous six games), scoring 34 points on 12-for-19 shooting in the win that drew the Pacers within two games of fifth place. Nobody else on the roster has been very consistent offensively, but Indiana has been one of the more improved defensive teams since the All-Star break and got a win in Houston on Monday with a big second quarter, having been the league's worst second quarter team prior to that. While they have their eyes on the Hawks, the four teams they play this week -- teams 8-11 in the East -- have their eyes on them.

This week: @ CHA, vs. DET, @ MIL, vs. MIA

13
Last week:
15

Record: 34-28
Pace: 99.6 (11) OffRtg: 102.9 (25) DefRtg: 103.6 (5) NetRtg: -0.7 (15)

The Hawks must have had déjà vu on Friday as the Cavs set a regular season record with 25 threes eight months after the Cavs set a playoff record with 25 threes ... against the Hawks. Atlanta is one of two teams (Sacramento is the other) that ranks in the bottom 10 in both opponent 3-point percentage and in the percentage of opponent shots that come from 3-point range. The strengths of their top-five defense are forcing turnovers (they rank third in opponent turnover rate) and protecting the rim (allowing the fewest points in the restricted area per game) without fouling (they're fourth in opponent free throw rate).

This week: vs. GSW, vs. BKN, vs. TOR, @ MEM

14
Last week:
12

Record: 29-34
Pace: 97.6 (20) OffRtg: 104.2 (22) DefRtg: 104.0 (6) NetRtg: +0.2 (13)

The Heat finished 1-3 against the Magic, allowing Orlando's 29th-ranked offense to score more than 111 points per 100 possessions over the last three meetings. But they caught a break when the champs (who they play two more times) rested both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the first game of a home-and-home on Saturday. With how erratic their offense has been (check out Dion Waiters' game log) and with nine of their remaining 19 games against top-10 offenses, they need continued excellence from their defense. They are at home for seven of their next eight games after Monday's visit to Cleveland.

This week: @ CLE, vs. CHA, vs. TOR, @ IND

15
Last week:
13

Record: 31-31
Pace: 97.5 (22) OffRtg: 104.5 (19) DefRtg: 105.5 (13) NetRtg: -1.0 (19)

The Bulls' crazy streak (they've now won 19 straight Thursday home games on TNT) proved to be stronger than the Warriors' amazing streak (146 regular season games without consecutive losses) last week. But the Bulls can't play every game on TNT (they have one more Thursday home game on the network -- March 30 vs. Cleveland -- remaining) and their offense continued to struggle, scoring just 30 points in the second half, against the Clippers on Saturday. Jimmy Butler has shot just 38 percent and has seen a big drop in free throw rate (FTA/FGA -- from 0.58 to 0.35) since the break.

This week: @ DET, @ ORL, vs. HOU, @ BOS

16
Last week:
18

Record: 28-34
Pace: 100.5 (8) OffRtg: 109.1 (6) DefRtg: 110.8 (30) NetRtg: -1.7 (21)

There was a time when the altitude of Denver was a real home-court advantage. But the Nuggets are just 75-79 at the Pepsi Center over the last four seasons, 16-15 this season after Saturday's loss to Charlotte. Now's the time to get that home-court advantage back, because six of their next seven games are at home and they're still just a game in the loss column ahead of the ninth-place Blazers. After recording two straight triple-doubles, Nikola Jokic shot 13-for-15 against the Hornets, but his fellow starters shot 9-for-33 and the Denver defense didn't hold up after after a couple of solid games on the road.

This week: vs. SAC, vs. WAS, vs. BOS, @ SAC

17
Last week:
16

Record: 30-32
Pace: 97.1 (24) OffRtg: 103.9 (24) DefRtg: 104.9 (8) NetRtg: -1.0 (18)

The Pistons may have been willing to trade Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, and they may be almost as good as the Spurs with neither on the floor, but they still need those guys to get it together if they're going to hold onto a playoff spot. Stan Van Gundy has yet to take either out of the starting lineup, but after the team was outscored by 22 points per 100 possessions (in 172 minutes) with the pair on the floor together over an eight-game stretch, he changed his substitution pattern so that Jackson and Drummond were on the floor together for less than 15 minutes in Saturday's easy win over Philly.

This week: vs. CHI, @ IND, vs. CLE, vs. NYK

18
Last week:
17

Record: 26-35
Pace: 99.6 (10) OffRtg: 107.0 (13) DefRtg: 109.1 (27) NetRtg: -2.1 (22)

The Blazers will play 10 of their final 12 games at home, but first need to survive the next two weeks, in which they play nine games (with four back-to-backs) in eight cities in 14 days. They've won the second game in their last three back-to-backs, but haven't had one since Jan. 20-21. They do have their first winning streak in more than a month, having scored 121 points per 100 possessions against the Thunder and Nets, with five guys averaging at least 14 points in the two games. Jusuf Nurkic continues to look like an important addition, averaging 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his six games with the Blazers and helping his new team stay within a game in the loss column of his old team.

This week: @ MIN, @ OKC, vs. PHI, vs. WAS, @ PHX

19
Last week:
20

Record: 26-36
Pace: 93.7 (29) OffRtg: 104.0 (23) DefRtg: 105.4 (12) NetRtg: -1.3 (20)

The Mavs have won four of their last five games and rank third defensively since the All-Star break. They've been at their best offensively with Nerlens Noel on the floor and he had his best game as a Mav (15 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks) in Friday's win (his first start) against Memphis. The Mavs have won 10 of their last 12 games at home and need all three home games (against bad teams) this week, because they'll play 11 of their final 17 games on the road (where they've lost four straight) and their final six home games are against the Warriors, Clippers, Raptors, Thunder, Spurs and Nuggets.

This week: vs. LAL, vs. BKN, vs. PHX

20
Last week:
23

Record: 25-37
Pace: 97.0 (25) OffRtg: 107.5 (11) DefRtg: 107.5 (23) NetRtg: +0.0 (14)

The Wolves have the league's toughest March-April schedule and entered this month in 12th place, but they're off to a strong start, having clobbered the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday and taken the Spurs to overtime in San Antonio on Saturday. They've held six of their last eight opponents under a point per possession and rank second defensively since the All-Star break, which probably allows Tom Thibodeau to sleep a few hours a night. They're home for four of their next five games, but after hosting the Blazers on Monday, their next five games are against top-10 offenses.

This week: vs. POR, vs. LAC, vs. GSW, @ MIL

21
Last week:
21

Record: 25-38
Pace: 100.1 (9) OffRtg: 101.9 (27) DefRtg: 104.5 (7) NetRtg: -2.6 (23)

The Pelicans will have the chance to really make up some ground starting March 14, playing eight of their final 16 games against the five teams between them and a playoff spot. But they can't put themselves in too deep a hole before then, and a loss to the Lakers on Sunday may have done just that. But after blowing a 14-point lead to the worst team in the West, they got the buckets and the stops they needed to stay within shouting distance of eighth place. Their offense continues to struggle, but they've remaining a top-10 defensive team since the break, having held their last three opponents under a point per possession.

This week: @ UTA, vs. TOR, @ CHA

22
Last week:
24

Record: 27-35
Pace: 98.8 (17) OffRtg: 105.4 (15) DefRtg: 104.9 (9) NetRtg: +0.5 (12)

Cody Zeller is back and the Hornets improved to 24-18 with their center, beating the Lakers and Nuggets last week. Their last five games have been their best offensive stretch (111 points scored per 100 possessions) since early January, despite an ugly performance in Phoenix on Thursday. They're home for nine of their next 12 games and have seven remaining games against the five teams in front of them in the East standings, starting with games against Pacers and Heat on Monday and Wednesday. After getting Zeller back on Tuesday, they lost Frank Kaminsky to a left shoulder sprain two nights later.

This week: vs. IND, @ MIA, vs. ORL, vs. NOP

23
Last week:
25

Record: 28-33
Pace: 97.5 (21) OffRtg: 107.6 (10) DefRtg: 106.9 (20) NetRtg: +0.6 (11)

Putting Malcolm Brogdon back into the starting lineup in place of Matthew Dellavedova appeared to help the vet, who scored 30 points on 13-for-18 shooting in his first two games (since mid-January) off the bench. Spencer Hawes was also dusted off (after not playing in his first 11 games since being acquired) to provide a big lift off the bench in Saturday's win over Toronto, keeping the Bucks within a game in the loss column of eighth place. They've won six of their last nine (with a top-five offense in that stretch) and need to keep that momentum through a relatively easy week, with a six-game trip (and 12 of their final 17 games on the road) after that.

This week: @ PHI, vs. NYK, vs. IND, vs. MIN

24
Last week:
22

Record: 23-39
Pace: 100.9 (5) OffRtg: 100.0 (30) DefRtg: 106.3 (19) NetRtg: -6.2 (28)

Joel Embiid's absence for the rest of the season is both an opportunity to showcase Jahlil Okafor's offense and a chance of exposing his defense, which was positively statuesque on one particular possession against Miami on Wednesday. The Sixers rank 29th defensively since Embiid last played and have been outscored by more than 20 points per 100 possessions (and have at been their worst offensively) with Okafor on the floor over those 17 games. As has always been the case, the bad defense far outweighs the flashes of low post skills.

This week: vs. MIL, @ POR, @ LAC, @ LAL

25
Last week:
28

Record: 21-42
Pace: 102.2 (3) OffRtg: 104.3 (20) DefRtg: 108.9 (26) NetRtg: -4.6 (26)

The Suns have their first three-game winning streak of the season, thanks in large part to the guy who's getting to play as Brandon Knight gets DNP'd. Tyler Ulis not only hit the game-winner (after a wild sequence) against Boston on Sunday. He has shot 17-for-28, has a 20/5 assist-turnover ratio, and is a team-high plus-43 over the streak. The Suns actually assisted on 64 percent of their buckets in the first two games and while their other first and second-year players were all taken in the Lottery, they've been at their best (plus-8.5 points per 100 possessions) since the break with Ulis (last year's 34th pick) and Alan Williams (undrafted in 2015) on the floor.

This week: vs. WAS, vs. LAL, @ DAL, vs. POR

26
Last week:
19

Record: 25-37
Pace: 96.7 (27) OffRtg: 104.6 (18) DefRtg: 108.4 (24) NetRtg: -3.8 (25)

After their initial post-break, "They're better without Boogie!" win over Denver, the Kings went 0-4 on the rest of their homestand, scoring less than a point per possession and losing to a couple of teams -- Charlotte (losers of 12 of 13) and Brooklyn (losers of 16 straight) -- that were really struggling before their visits to the Golden 1 Center. Dave Joerger has used five different starting lineups in the five games since the break, with Darren Collison and Kosta Koufos the only guys who have started all five and Buddy Hield the only guy who has come off the bench in all five.

This week: @ DEN, @ SAS, vs. WAS, vs. DEN

27
Last week:
26

Record: 25-38
Pace: 99.2 (13) OffRtg: 105.1 (16) DefRtg: 108.6 (25) NetRtg: -3.5 (24)

With Joakim Noah out, the Knicks are getting a longer look at Kristaps Porzingis at the five and their new starting lineup has scored 115 points per 100 possessions in its three games together since Porzingis (averaging 20.7 points in the three games) returned from an ankle injury. But their previously decent bench has struggled and some ugly quarters did them in against Philadelphia and Golden State over the weekend. They rank 22nd offensively since the All-Star break as they try to play the triangle again, but face some bad defenses this week.

This week: @ ORL, @ MIL, @ DET, @ BKN

28
Last week:
27

Record: 23-40
Pace: 98.5 (19) OffRtg: 100.9 (29) DefRtg: 107.0 (21) NetRtg: -6.2 (27)

Among lineups that have played at least 50 minutes since the break, only the Houston starters (plus-34.4 points per 100 possessions) have been better than the Orlando starters (plus-22.0), even though the four perimeter guys in the Magic lineup are a combined 20-for-78 (26 percent) from 3-point range over their five games. They all played big in Friday's win over Miami and Aaron Gordon certainly looks more comfortable at the four, but Nikola Vucevic (sore Achilles) missed Sunday's loss in Washington, where the Magic blew a 17-point, second-half lead.

This week: vs. NYK, vs. CHI, @ CHA, vs. CLE

29
Last week:
29

Record: 19-44
Pace: 100.8 (6) OffRtg: 102.9 (26) DefRtg: 110.2 (29) NetRtg: -7.3 (29)

The Lakers are the only team without a win since the All-Star break and have been held under a point per possession in five of their last six games to join Brooklyn in the bottom five in the bottom five in both offense and defensive efficiency. Brandon Ingram followed a scoreless game on Friday with 16 points on Sunday and the Lakers held the Pelicans (the second worst offense since the break) to 40 percent shooting. But D'Angelo Russell shot poorly, the Lakers scored 14 points in the third quarter, and they were outscored 8-0 in the final 1:45 after coming back from a 14-point deficit.

This week: @ DAL, @ PHX, vs. PHI

30
Last week:
30

Record: 10-51
Pace: 103.7 (1) OffRtg: 101.3 (28) DefRtg: 109.6 (28) NetRtg: -8.4 (30)

The Nets put an end to their 16-game losing streak in Sacramento on Wednesday with strong starts to the first and third quarters from their new starting lineup, which has otherwise struggled defensively (allowing 125 points per 100 possessions in its 34 minutes). Jeremy Lin has shot 9-for-16 from 3-point range since his return, but is on a minutes limit and opposing guards scorched the Nets in Utah and Portland over the weekend. The latter loss was their 20th straight (a streak that goes back to last January) in the second game of a back-to-back. They have three more back-to-backs this season and three more games on their eight-game trip.

This week: @ MEM, @ ATL, @ DAL, vs. NYK


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