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Power Rankings: The week the Lakers beat the champs

POSTED: Mar 7, 2016 11:46 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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Warriors vs. Lakers

Jordan Clarkson goes off for 25 points as the Lakers upset the Warriors 112-95.

The Warriors were 55-5. The Lakers were 12-51. But anything can happen in this league, and it did on Sunday. The Lakers had to come through on at least one of those national TV games, didn't they?

We can make assumptions about how the standings will look after April 13, based on how teams have played thus far, who actually has something to play for, and strength of schedule. But there are going to be a few results every week that challenge our assumptions and throw the playoff picture into chaos.

It looks like we have 10 teams in the East and nine in the West that are still alive. But there are 294 more games to be played and there are surely a few more surprises to shake things up.

* * *

• Last week: History happening in two places
• This time last year: Still a clear top two after Hawks thwart Cavs -- The Nuggets fired Brian Shaw and Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles. Joel Embiid threw down an East Bay Funk Dunk in warmups, Russell Westbrook took off against the Sixers, Marc Gasol beat the Rockets with a fadeaway runner, and Stephen Curry hit a ridiculous shot after dancing through the Clippers' defense.

• Plus-minus stud: Goran Dragic (MIA) was a plus-58 in four games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: Robert Covington (PHI) was a minus-63 in four games last week.

• Hero team of the week: Cleveland (3-0) -- LeBron James went to Miami and tweeted out some goofy stuff, but the Cavs took care of business at home, beating two East playoff teams (Indiana and Boston) and another playoff hopeful (Washington).
• Zero team of the week: New Orleans (0-3) -- The Pelicans booked Dell Demps' trip to the Lottery with losses to the eighth-place Rockets and ninth-place Jazz.

• Team to watch this week: Oklahoma City -- The Thunder are struggling, especially defensively. But they face two more tests with top-six offenses -- the Clippers and Spurs -- this week.

• East vs. West: The West is 190-172 (.525) against the East in interconference games, though the East was 14-10 (3-1 vs. Portland) last week.

• Toughest schedules so far: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. Sacramento, 3. Philadelphia
• Easiest schedules so far: 1. San Antonio, 2. Memphis, 3. Oklahoma City
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: Charlotte (+3), Milwaukee (+3), Cleveland (+2), L.A. Clippers (+2)
• Free falls of the week: New Orleans (-3), Oklahoma City (-3), Brooklyn (-2), Portland (-2)

* * *

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 98.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.5 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.

1

Last week: 1

Golden State (55-6)
Pace: 102.2 (2) OffRtg: 112.2 (1) DefRtg: 100.3 (6) NetRtg: +11.8 (2)
Not only did the Warriors lose to the Lakers, but Sunday's game also dropped them out of the top five in defensive efficiency (by a hair) for the first time since Week 1. They rank 18th on that end since the break and face a lot more top-10 offenses (9) than bottom-10 offenses (3) the rest of the way. Even if they're still gunning for 73 wins, now's the time to get guys some rest. Only one opponent on their six-game homestand is over .500.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. UTA, vs. POR, vs. PHX

2

Last week: 2

San Antonio (53-9)
Pace: 96.5 (24) OffRtg: 108.9 (3) DefRtg: 95.3 (1) NetRtg: +13.6 (1)
The Spurs have Manu Ginobili back, have won eight straight games, and are just three in the loss column behind the champs. Kawhi Leonard has turned up the offense, averaging 27.6 points with an effective field goal percentage of 61.5 percent over the last five games. Make your movie plans on Fridays over the next month, because the Spurs will play the Thunder, Warriors or Raptors each of the next four Saturdays.
This week: @ IND, @ MIN, vs. CHI, vs. OKC

3

Last week: 5

Cleveland (44-17)
Pace: 95.3 (29) OffRtg: 107.2 (4) DefRtg: 101.2 (8) NetRtg: +6.0 (4)
For the second time in six days, the Cavs rested a star against the Wizards. When they rested LeBron James, they lost by 14. When they rested Kevin Love, they won by 25. They've only played 128 minutes with James at the four and Love at the five, and are a plus-83, having scored 124 points per 100 possessions, in those minutes. Channing Frye, meanwhile, is already out of the rotation.
This week: vs. MEM, @ SAC, @ LAL, @ LAC

4

Last week: 6

L.A. Clippers (40-21)
Pace: 98.5 (13) OffRtg: 106.1 (6) DefRtg: 100.4 (7) NetRtg: +5.7 (5)
After struggling early against elite teams, the Clippers have wins over the Spurs and Thunder in the last month and are 11-5 without Blake Griffin against teams in playoff position. Of course, Chris Paul will be the first to tell you that what they do without Griffin doesn't matter. They still have five more games against the big four (Cavs, Warriors, Thunder and Spurs), including three in the next nine days.
This week: @ DAL, @ OKC, vs. NYK, vs. CLE

5

Last week: 4

Toronto (41-20)
Pace: 95.4 (27) OffRtg: 107.1 (5) DefRtg: 102.9 (13) NetRtg: +4.2 (6)
The Raptors' defense hasn't been very good over the last five weeks and their 12-game home winning streak came to an end with 36 Houston points in the fourth quarter on Sunday. After one Norman Powell start, Dwane Casey went back to the starting lineup that has allowed 114 points per 100 possessions in 178 minutes since mid-January, though bench minutes were the bigger problem this time.
This week: vs. BKN, vs. ATL, vs. MIA

6

Last week: 3

Oklahoma City (43-20)
Pace: 99.5 (8) OffRtg: 109.6 (2) DefRtg: 102.9 (14) NetRtg: +6.7 (3)
After blowing a 14-point lead with five minutes left in L.A. on Wednesday, coming up short again against the Warriors on Thursday, and falling to 2-6 since the break (before Sunday's win in Milwaukee), it was time for some reflection in Oklahoma City. The lack of creativity and ball movement will always draw the most criticism, but the defense (which ranks 26th since the break) has been the more consistent problem.
This week: vs. LAC, vs. MIN, @ SAS

7

Last week: 7

Boston (38-26)
Pace: 101.3 (3) OffRtg: 103.9 (10) DefRtg: 100.2 (4) NetRtg: +3.7 (7)
The Celtics couldn't hold onto an early, 18-point lead in Cleveland on Saturday, getting thumped by the Cavs in the paint and on the glass. They had been averaging 22.3 fast break points since the break, but couldn't run with Cleveland getting to the line 34 times and grabbing 15 offensive boards. Sunday began a stretch of nine days where the Cs are playing only two games. Both are at home, where they've won 13 straight.
This week: vs. MEM, vs. HOU

8

Last week: 8

Miami (37-26)
Pace: 95.6 (26) OffRtg: 102.3 (21) DefRtg: 100.3 (5) NetRtg: +2.0 (10)
Joe Johnson has given the Heat a lift from beyond the arc, but paint dominance is the biggest reason they're 8-2 since the All-Star break. They've outscored their opponents by 13.4 points in the paint per contest over the 10 games, with four guys averaging at least 9.0 paint points. Johnson has even taken 56 percent of his shots with the Heat from the paint, up from 34 percent of his shots with Brooklyn.
This week: @ MIL, @ CHI, @ TOR

9

Last week: 10

Atlanta (35-28)
Pace: 99.0 (11) OffRtg: 102.9 (17) DefRtg: 99.3 (2) NetRtg: +3.6 (8)
The Hawks' offense is still struggling overall, but Kyle Korver (46 percent from 3-point range over the last month) may be returning to 2014-15 form. Atlanta's defensive improvement has been legitimized by twice keeping the Warriors in check within a seven-game stretch in which they've allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions. Thursday's visit to Toronto is one of five remaining games against the top two teams in the East.
This week: @ UTA, @ TOR, vs. MEM, vs. IND

10

Last week: 13

Charlotte (33-28)
Pace: 97.7 (17) OffRtg: 103.6 (12) DefRtg: 101.4 (9) NetRtg: +2.2 (9)
Kemba Walker still has off nights, but after ranking as, essentially, the league's worst shooter over his first four seasons, he's the most improved shooter that has taken at least 500 shots last season and this season. Clearly, the addition of two more ball-handlers has worked. Walker has an effective field goal percentage of 55.4 percent off passes from either Nicolas Batum or Jeremy Lin.
This week: vs. MIN, vs. NOP, vs. DET, vs. HOU

11

Last week: 9

Portland (33-31)
Pace: 97.7 (16) OffRtg: 105.3 (7) DefRtg: 104.9 (19) NetRtg: +0.4 (13)
Neither the Jazz or Rockets are playing very well, but the Blazers will have to work for one of the last two playoff spots with the toughest remaining schedule (that includes five road games against the West's top four) amongst the group. Before they got back to Portland Sunday night, they were brought back to Earth by a three-game losing streak in which their defense allowed 120 points per 100 possessions.
This week: vs. WAS, @ GSW, vs. ORL

12

Last week: 11

Indiana (33-30)
Pace: 99.2 (9) OffRtg: 102.0 (23) DefRtg: 100.0 (3) NetRtg: +2.0 (11)
The Pacers' starting lineup has played the most minutes in the league since the All-Star break and has been strong defensively. But the bench has struggled and Frank Vogel started small in Charlotte on Friday. Of course, nothing has worked for the Pacers against the Hornets, who they've lost to three times in the last month. They have nine games left against teams over .500, and six of them are in the next two weeks.
This week: vs. SAS, @ DAL, @ ATL

13

Last week: 12

Detroit (32-31)
Pace: 97.5 (19) OffRtg: 102.5 (18) DefRtg: 102.5 (11) NetRtg: +0.1 (15)
Tobias Harris has given the Pistons pretty consistent production, but they're still so dependent on Reggie Jackson, who shot 3-for-17 in Saturday's brutal loss in New York and 11-for-19 in Sunday's win over Portland. Jackson's usage rate is up since the break and the offensive drop-off when he has gone to the bench has been greater (11.4 points scored per 100 possessions) than it was before the break (7.4).
This week: @ DAL, @ CHA, @ PHI

14

Last week: 14

Memphis (37-25)
Pace: 95.3 (28) OffRtg: 103.2 (13) DefRtg: 103.5 (16) NetRtg: -0.3 (16)
It's not yet time to panic; There are still four teams and eight games between the Grizzlies and ninth place. But after two losses to Phoenix in nine days, you have to wonder how they're going to handle their last 20 games, with 17 of the 20 on the road and/or against teams with winning records, 13 against teams that rank in the top 10 in offensive and/or defensive efficiency, and six being the second night of a back-to-back.
This week: @ CLE, @ BOS, vs. NOP, @ ATL

15

Last week: 15

Dallas (33-30)
Pace: 96.5 (23) OffRtg: 104.7 (8) DefRtg: 103.9 (17) NetRtg: +0.8 (12)
Another week, another overtime for the Mavs, who are 5-8 (11th in the West) since Feb. 1. A bad turnover forced OT in Denver on Sunday, but rebounding has been a bigger issue. They rank last in defensive rebounding percentage and have allowed a league-high 17.5 second chance points per game since the All-Star break, with games against DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond this week.
This week: vs. LAC, vs. DET, vs. IND

16

Last week: 16

Utah (29-33)
Pace: 93.4 (30) OffRtg: 103.0 (15) DefRtg: 102.8 (12) NetRtg: +0.3 (14)
Thanks to an anemic offense, the Jazz lost five straight for the first time (at the wrong time) this season. But they won in New Orleans on Saturday to get back within a game in the loss column of the eighth-place Rockets, who they play once more. Their new starting lineup has outscored opponents by 14.4 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break, but all other lineups have been outscored by 7.2 in that time.
This week: vs. ATL, @ GSW, vs. WAS, @ SAC

17

Last week: 17

Chicago (31-30)
Pace: 99.1 (10) OffRtg: 100.9 (26) DefRtg: 102.3 (10) NetRtg: -1.3 (17)
Jimmy Butler's return against Houston on Saturday (24 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and a plus-28 in an eight-point game) ended the Bulls' four-game losing streak and kept them in eighth place in the East. More important than any offense he provided was that the Bulls held a top-10 offense under a point per possession. They rank 10th defensively overall, but third (behind the Spurs and Hawks) against top 10 offenses.
This week: vs. MIL, @ SAS, vs. MIA

18

Last week: 18

Washington (30-32)
Pace: 100.3 (5) OffRtg: 102.3 (22) DefRtg: 104.1 (18) NetRtg: -1.8 (18)
Randy Wittman finally put Bradley Beal back in the starting lineup on Saturday, and Beal promptly got hurt again. The Wizards' last-second loss to the Pacers was just as painful, but they're still in the playoff hunt. Thirteen of their final 20 games (including another meeting with the eighth-place Bulls) are against teams within a game of .500 or worse, and they're 21-7 (winning six of the last seven) against that group thus far.
This week: @ POR, @ UTA, @ DEN

19

Last week: 19

Houston (31-32)
Pace: 100.0 (7) OffRtg: 104.2 (9) DefRtg: 106.1 (23) NetRtg: -1.9 (19)
Dwight Howard got a season-high 19 shots in Milwaukee on Monday and scored 30 points, but the Rockets lost and Howard's rebounding has been more consistent than his offense. His rebounding percentage (20.6 percent) is the highest it's been since he was last in Orlando and ranks sixth in the league. Michael Beasley's season debut was a minus-8 in just 4:16 in a game the Rockets lost ... wait for it ... by eight points.
This week: @ PHI, @ BOS, @ CHA

20

Last week: 23

Milwaukee (26-37)
Pace: 96.9 (22) OffRtg: 102.0 (24) DefRtg: 105.5 (21) NetRtg: -3.5 (26)
Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up two more triple-doubles last week and was a rebound away (in Minnesota on Friday) from having four in his last seven games. His move to point guard makes you wonder more about the future of Michael Carter-Williams. You can wonder less about the future of Jabari Parker, who has averaged 21.9 points on 52 percent shooting since the All-Star break, scoring 36 in Monday's win over Houston.
This week: @ CHI, vs. MIA, vs. NOP, @ BKN

21

Last week: 21

Sacramento (25-36)
Pace: 102.3 (1) OffRtg: 103.1 (14) DefRtg: 106.4 (26) NetRtg: -3.3 (23)
The Kings were pretty good (plus-6.1 points per 100 possessions) with their two point guards on the floor with DeMarcus Cousins before the All-Star break. George Karl has used that look more since the break (17 minutes per game compared to less than 11), but it hasn't been nearly as good (minus-6.2). Ben McLemore is still starting, but has played less than 20 minutes in six of the eight games since the break.
This week: @ NOP, vs. CLE, vs. ORL, vs. UTA

22

Last week: 22

Denver (25-38)
Pace: 98.0 (14) OffRtg: 102.4 (19) DefRtg: 105.8 (22) NetRtg: -3.4 (25)
The Nuggets have gone to overtime three times in their last five games (mostly because they've played the Mavs twice in that stretch) and have played a league-high 43 games that have been within five points in the last five minutes. But their top three guys in clutch 3-point attempts have shot 8-for-55 (15 percent). D.J. Augustin has come in and shot 6-for-9, hitting all three of his clutch threes in Sunday's win.
This week: vs. NYK, vs. PHX, vs. WAS

23

Last week: 20

New Orleans (23-38)
Pace: 98.7 (12) OffRtg: 103.0 (16) DefRtg: 106.3 (25) NetRtg: -3.4 (24)
Jrue Holiday may finally be back into the starting lineup for the Pelicans this week, a move that obviously comes too late for the Pelicans to make the playoffs, but could make them more of a spoiler down the stretch. Only five teams have been worse in the first minutes of the first quarter than the Pelicans, who have been outscored in the first six minutes in nine of their last 13 games, including all four on their current losing streak.
This week: vs. SAC, @ CHA, @ MEM, @ MIL

24

Last week: 24

New York (26-38)
Pace: 95.9 (25) OffRtg: 102.4 (20) DefRtg: 105.0 (20) NetRtg: -2.7 (21)
It was kind of an ugly week both on and off the court for Carmelo Anthony, who got into it with a fan, got flattened by the rim, and dropped to 2-for-23 on shots to tie or take the lead in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime over the last four seasons. But the Knicks salvaged some dignity with a win over the Pistons on Saturday, which ended a 14-game losing streak against teams currently .500 or better.
This week: @ DEN, @ PHX, @ LAC, @ LAL

25

Last week: 25

Orlando (27-34)
Pace: 97.6 (18) OffRtg: 101.3 (25) DefRtg: 103.3 (15) NetRtg: -2.0 (20)
The Magic have generally done a good job against the teams below them in the standings. But losses to the Knicks and Suns over the last two weeks have basically shut the door on their playoff chances. They scored less than 90 points per 100 possessions in the two games and former Pistons Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings shot a combined 2-for-20 against Phoenix on Friday.
This week: @ GSW, @ LAL, @ SAC, @ POR

26

Last week: 26

Minnesota (20-43)
Pace: 97.3 (20) OffRtg: 103.9 (11) DefRtg: 107.1 (28) NetRtg: -3.2 (22)
At this point, it's fair to wonder if Kevin Garnett will ever play NBA basketball again. The active leader in regular season minutes hasn't played in more than six weeks and didn't play beyond this point in the season last year. He's still an effective defender and rebounder when he plays and is still under contract for another season, but it will take him a lot of work, at the age of 40, to get ready for the grind again.
This week: @ CHA, vs. SAS, @ OKC

27

Last week: 28

Phoenix (17-46)
Pace: 100.4 (4) OffRtg: 99.5 (28) DefRtg: 107.3 (29) NetRtg: -7.8 (28)
Break up the Suns! They've won three of their last five games, ending a 17-game road losing streak with weekend wins in Orlando and Memphis. Both both Devin Booker and Alex Len have averaged more than 20 points over the five-game stretch, though neither has shot particularly well. The combination of Len and Tyson Chandler has finally had some success defensively and there are more winnable games on the horizon.
This week: vs. NYK, @ DEN, @ GSW

28

Last week: 29

L.A. Lakers (13-51)
Pace: 98.0 (15) OffRtg: 99.1 (29) DefRtg: 109.5 (30) NetRtg: -10.4 (29)
The result of Sunday's historical upset won't really affect the Lakers or Warriors beyond Sunday, but it was fun to see Marcelo Huertas (10 points and nine assists) do his thing after a rough first season in the league. And that came five days after the Lakers' other rookie point guard - D'Angelo Russell - went for 39 points in Tuesday's win over Brooklyn. Russell isn't only hitting threes, but he's driving more than he did early in the season.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. CLE, vs. NYK

29

Last week: 27

Brooklyn (18-45)
Pace: 96.9 (21) OffRtg: 100.4 (27) DefRtg: 107.1 (27) NetRtg: -6.7 (27)
A 3-4 mark on the Western Conference portion of their circus trip seems decent for the Nets, who have been an above-average offensive team over the last six weeks and have seen some improvement from their younger guys. But their defense stinks and they returned East having been swept by the Lakers and Wolves. With two more meetings, their season series with the Sixers (currently at 1-1) is up for grabs.
This week: @ TOR, @ PHI, vs. MIL

30

Last week: 30

Philadelphia (8-55)
Pace: 100.1 (6) OffRtg: 95.8 (30) DefRtg: 106.3 (24) NetRtg: -10.5 (30)
The Sixers' latest double-digit losing streak has been much better offensively than the first two were, even though Jahlil Okafor has missed the last four games with a shin contusion. They have three legitimately decent 3-point shooters - Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas and Hollis Thompson - who have combined to shoot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc over the course of the streak.
This week: vs. HOU, vs. BKN, vs. DET