POWER RANKINGS >> Trail Blazers Split Week Seven Leading To Slight Decline In Ranks

Week seven consisted of a pair of back-to-backs for the Portland Trail Blazers with two at home and two on the road. The Blazers split the week dropping the first two against the Clippers and Lakers, but then bounced back with two wins against the Jazz and Pacers. Portland finished the week 2-2 bringing their season record to 13-11 heading into week eight.

The week started as the Blazers played host to the Clippers on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Portland outscored Los Angeles in each of the first three quarters leading by 13 heading into the fourth. However, the tables turned as the Clippers outscored the Trail Blazers 36-17 in the final period leading to a 112-118 Los Angeles win.

Portland then headed to SoCal to face another LA rival, the Lakers. Despite a neck-and-neck first half, the Lakers pulled ahead in the third and fourth quarters resulting in a 109-128 Lakers victory.

Following a two-day break, Portland headed to Utah to face the Jazz. Backed by a career-high 45 points from Anfernee Simons and 33 from Jerami Grant, the Blazers were able to avenge their Nov. 19 loss in Portland to win by a final score of 116-111.

24 hours later, Portland returned to Moda Center to face the Pacers. A collective effort from the Blazers with each starter scoring in double figures led to Portland winning convincingly 116-100 in Damian Lillard's return to the lineup.

Seven weeks into the season, Portland holds a record of 13-11. Looking forward to week eight, the Trail Blazers have a small break in action before their homestand continues with the Nuggets on Thursday and the Timberwolves on Saturday.

John Schuhmann at NBA.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 10, one spots down from last week.

"The Blazers went 2-5 over Damian Lillard’s most recent absence and are 5-7 without him for the season. They’re tied for the most wins (they’re 8-9) after trailing by double-digits, but they also blew double-digit leads (18 and 11 points) in losses to the Clippers and Lakers last week, allowing the two L.A. teams to total 127 points on 93 possessions (137 per 100) after halftime. (As noted last week, their defensive numbers were suffering more than the offense in Lillard’s absence.)

But the Blazers put an end to a 1-7 stretch with a win in Utah on Friday and then celebrated Lillard’s return by beating Indiana a night later. They’re the only team that hasn’t held an opponent under a point per possession this season (the Kings and Knicks each did it for the first time over the weekend), but they held the Jazz and Pacers (who were without Tyrese Haliburton) to just 107.1 points per 100 possessions over the two wins.

They remain ripe for a breakout on the other end of the floor. Anfernee Simons made sure to get his career high (45 points in Utah on Saturday) before Lillard got back, and the two combined to shoot 10-for-19 from 3-point range upon the star’s return on Sunday. Jerami Grant didn’t let the comeback mess up his rhythm, registering his second highest usage rate of the season and leading all scorers with 28 points against the Pacers.

The Blazers have three days off and their game against the Nuggets is the end of a stretch where they will have played nine of 11 against teams that currently have winning records. Their two-game series against the Wolves (Portland will have a rest advantage on Saturday) is the start of a stretch where they’re playing seven straight against teams that are currently at or below .500."

Schuhmann has the Trail Blazers behind the 76ers at No. 9 and ahead of the Warriors at No. 11.

Enzo Flojo from Clutch Points has the Trail Blazers at No. 20, one spots down from last week.

"The Blazers still have a winning record as of this writing, but barely. They went 0-2 to start the week, though they salvaged it a bit by winning back-to-back over the Jazz and Pacers. Looking ahead, though, things might get rough against the Nuggets and Wolves this week."

Flojo has the Trail Blazers behind the Mavericks at No. 19 and ahead of the Wizards at No. 21.

Andy Bailey from Bleacher Report has the Trail Blazers at No. 18 (as of Dec. 2), four spots down from last week.

"According to Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes, Damian Lillard is reportedly targeting December 4 for a return to action. And that date can't come soon enough for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Despite excellent play from Jerami Grant (28.5 points and a 46.5 three-point percentage) and Anfernee Simons (26.8 points and a 39.4 three-point percentage), Portland is 1-5 during Lillard's current absence.

The biggest concern may not be immediately addressed by Lillard either. The Blazers have given up at least 111 points in each of those six games, and the legendary point guard is 32 and has never been known as a stopper.

The more important (at least on the defensive end of the floor) return might actually be that of Gary Payton II, whose reason for being out was recently upgraded to "Return to Competition Reconditioning"."

Bailey has the Trail Blazers behind the Nets at No. 17 and ahead of the Timberwolves at No. 19.

Colin Ward-Henninger from CBS Sports has the Trail Blazers at No. 20, four spots down from last week.

"The Blazers beat the Knicks in OT last Friday, but then dropped three straight to the Nets, Clippers and Lakers. Common sense would say they're missing Damian Lillard, but offense hasn't really been the problem thanks to Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant, who combined to average 61 points per game this week on 43 percent 3-point shooting. Portland gave up 123.4 points per 100 possessions this week, which is simply not going to get it done, particularly against struggling offenses like the L.A. teams."

Ward Henninger has the Trail Blazers behind the Mavericks at No. 19 and ahead of the Wizards at No. 21.