Sunday was a painfully difficult day. Difficult for players to play, for coaches to coach, and for all of us to wrap our heads around the sudden and tragic loss of Kobe Bean Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others.
The NBA family has lost, far too soon, one of its most iconic stars. In the current generation of players and NBA fans, the legacy of Kobe is profound.
While the rest of us weren't in his universe in regard to talent, we all share the same love for the game of basketball. Kobe gave the game everything he had in his 20 seasons with the Lakers, and he still had more to give.
On to the rankings ...
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Jayson Tatum (BOS) was a plus-57 in two games last week.
- Wrong Way: Tristan Thompson (CLE) was a minus-47 in three games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Utah (3-0) -- Most of the Jazz's 19-2 run has come against lesser opponents, but the Jazz kept it going with wins over the Pacers and Mavs last week.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Cleveland (0-3) -- Three home games against three bad teams, and the Cavs lost them all by double-digits.
East vs. West
- The West is 140-116 (.547) against the East in interconference games after going 11-10 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 14
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Atlanta, 3. Cleveland
- Easiest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Phoenix, 3. Denver
- Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: Oklahoma City (+4), Atlanta (+3), Philadelphia (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Minnesota (-4), Dallas (-3), Indiana (-3)
Week 15 Team to Watch
- Utah -- The Jazz have won 19 of their last 21 games to climb from sixth to second place in the Western Conference.They got two wins over winning teams last week, and more big games (within the Western Conference) are coming in the next 17 days. This week, the Jazz's biggest games will be against the Rockets on Monday and in Denver on Thursday. They'll also visit a couple of playoff hopefuls - the Spurs on Wednesday and the Blazers on Saturday - as part of a three-game trip.
- Last week: Clippers, Nuggets move into Top 5; Celtics, Rockets tumble
- This time last year: Davis helps push trade season into full gear -- Anthony Davis asked the Pelicans for a trade 10 days before the deadline, and Victor Oladipo was lost for the season with a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee. The Warriors were 10 games into an 11-game winning streak, Luka Doncic recorded his first two career triple-doubles, and Paul George dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Rockets' visit to Madison Square Garden featured 61 points from James Harden and a #Shaqtin moment from P.J. Tucker.
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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 100.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.2 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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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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