Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 10: Grizzlies move into No. 1 spot

See where all 30 teams rank as we enter Week 10 of the 2022-23 season.

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies are rolling as Week 10 in the NBA begins.

The 2022 Christmas Day schedule took a couple of hits with injuries to Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis that will keep the two stars from playing on Sunday. But both the Warriors and Lakers have additional stars to pick up the slack, and they’re both in a position where they need wins however they can get them.

If everybody else stays healthy, it should be a fun slate of games. And one cool aspect to this year’s games is that, for four of the five (all except Sixers-Knicks), the two teams have yet to meet this season. After Friday, we’ll be 40% of the way through the season, and the Lakers will have yet to play the Mavs, the Bucks will have yet to face the Celtics, the first-place Grizzlies will have yet to face the defending champs, and the Suns will have yet to face the Nuggets.

Also, as we enter Week 10, Philly and New York are in a virtual tie for fifth place in the East, L.A. and Dallas are separated by just a game in the loss column, Milwaukee and Boston are in another virtual tie at the top of the East, and Phoenix is a half-game behind Denver. (That last game also features a guy who just scored 58 points and a guy who just had 40, 27 and 10.)

These games have stakes.

Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Miami (4-0) — Taking care of business against bad teams is a big step forward for the Heat.
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Chicago (0-3) — Apologies to the Wizards (who’ve lost 10 straight), but their games were just too close last week. The Bulls lost weekend games to the Knicks and Wolves by a total of 47 points, making some defensive history (not the good kind) on Sunday. (See below.)

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 9

  • Toughest: 1. Houston, 2. Detroit, 3. Oklahoma City
  • Easiest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Denver, 3. Toronto
  • 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: Orlando (+4), Memphis (+3), Miami (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Golden State (-5), Toronto (-4), New Orleans (-3)

Week 10 Team to Watch

  • Milwaukee The Bucks aren’t quite on the Warriors’ level, but they’ve had some road woes of their own, scoring an anemic 103.0 points per 100 possessions over their 12 games away from Fiserv Forum. And they have four fun road games this week. A five-game trip begins in New Orleans (where the Pelicans have won seven straight) on Monday (8 p.m. ET, League Pass), when we’ll get a tasty Giannis-Zion matchup. The Bucks are then in Cleveland (where the Cavs are 14-2) on Wednesday and in Brooklyn (where the Nets have won eight of their last nine) on Friday. Then they’ll be in Boston for Christmas (5 p.m. ET, ABC).

Previous Power Rankings

OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)

The league has averaged 112.2 points scored per 100 possessions and 100.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes 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.

Last Week:4

Record: 19-10

OffRtg: 114.1 (9) DefRtg: 109.5 (5) NetRtg: +4.6 (5) Pace: 101.1 (10)

The Grizzlies are certainly one of the best teams in the league, Dillon Brooks had a lot to do with Khris Middleton shooting 1-for-12, and their win over the Bucks on Thursday was about paint dominance (86-38) more than hot shooting from the perimeter. But the Grizz were probably playing a little over their heads in beating Milwaukee by 41 points to run their winning streak to seven straight games. Those 86 paint points came on 67% shooting against one of the best paint defenses in the league, and even with that game included, the Grizz rank 21st in paint field goal percentage at 56.1%.

There was clearly some regression to the mean as the winning streak came to an end with a loss in Oklahoma City on Saturday, when the Grizz had a rest advantage and the Thunder didn’t have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Memphis shot just 19-for-40 (48%) in the paint and just 12-for-45 (27%) from 3-point range, trailing by as many as 24 points and scoring just 109 points on 106 possessions (they were down 21 when Ja Morant was ejected). The Grizz still have the league’s second-ranked defense (101.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) in December, and they’ve still outscored their opponents by an average of 25.3 points in the paint over their eight games this month.

The loss in Oklahoma City was the start of a four-game trip, which brings the Grizzlies’ first meetings of the season with all three of this week’s opponents: Denver, Phoenix and Golden State. Their first game against the champs is also the Grizzlies’ first-ever Christmas game, with the Hornets being the only other franchise that hasn’t played on Christmas. The Grizz had double-digit leads in each of the first five games of their six-game conference semifinal series with the Warriors in May, and they were without Ja Morant in Games 4-6.

Week 10: @ DEN, @ PHX, @ GSW

Last Week:1

Record: 22-9

OffRtg: 116.8 (1) DefRtg: 110.6 (8) NetRtg: +6.2 (1) Pace: 100.0 (15)

The Celtics have seen the league’s biggest jump in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range, from 42.5% (eighth highest rate) last season to 48.1% (third highest) this season. Over their last five games, that rate has been exactly 50% (220/440). Everybody in their rotation (except the recently returned Robert Williams III) can shoot, and their drive-and-kick offense generally creates great looks. But with that volume and without the elite defense that they had last season, the Celtics are more susceptible to bad shooting nights.

Boston has had four bad shooting nights over these last five games, by far its worst stretch of offense (*101.0 points scored per 100 possessions) this season. It’s one thing to lose to the Warriors and Clippers on the road, but (after a wild win over the Lakers) the Celtics came home and dropped two to the Magic over the weekend. They should certainly have been motivated to avenge the Friday loss, but Sunday (with Jayson Tatum out) was their worst offensive performance of the year (92 points on 102 possessions).

* Wildly, the 101.0 per 100 matches their worst five-game stretch of offense from last season, which was the last five games of the 2022 NBA Finals.

The two losses to Orlando were the start of the Celtics’ longest homestand of the season (seven games over 14 days). Game 4 of the homestand is against the team – Minnesota – that has allowed the most 3-pointers per game (14.2), but it will certainly be more interesting to see how many 3s the Cs get up on Christmas against the Bucks, who’ve seen the biggest drop in the percentage of their opponents‘ shots that have come from 3-point range.

Week 10: vs. IND, vs. MIN, vs. MIL

Last Week:3

Record: 21-8

OffRtg: 111.7 (18) DefRtg: 107.6 (2) NetRtg: +4.0 (6) Pace: 100.1 (14)

The Bucks continue to struggle offensively on the road. They had just eight points after the first seven minutes in Memphis on Thursday, and the 41-point loss (in which Khris Middleton shot 1-for-12) was the fifth time they’ve been held under a point per possession. All five occasions have come on the road and the Bucks have now scored an amazing 14.9 fewer points per 100 possessions on the road (103.0 – worst in the league) than they have at home (117.9).

The flip side is that the Bucks are 14-3 at Fiserv Forum, with a couple of quality wins last week. They handled the Road Warriors pretty easily on Tuesday, outscoring the champs by 29 points (68-39) on restricted area buckets and free throws. They also beat the Jazz by 26 on Saturday without both Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo as Jrue Holiday (back from a two-game absence), Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez and rookie MarJon Beauchamp all picking up the slack. The Bucks have scored 126 points per 100 possessions (with Portis and Grayson Allen both having shot better than 60%) over their six home games since Thanksgiving.

Holiday, Middleton and Antetokounmpo have still played just 69 total minutes together, but they should have a chance to double that total this week. Joe Ingles (who tore his ACL on Jan. 30) could also make his Bucks debut on Monday as Milwaukee begins a five-game trip.

The first four games are against four of the top seven teams in the league, and the Bucks’ visit to New Orleans will be just the fourth meeting between Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson, with Milwaukee having won two of the first three. Their game in Boston on Sunday will be their first meeting with the team that eliminated them in May and the Bucks’ fifth straight Christmas game (they’re 3-1 over the last four). They played in just four Christmas games in the franchise’s 50 seasons prior to 2018.

Week 10: @ NOP, @ CLE, @ BKN, @ BOS

Last Week:5

Record: 20-11

OffRtg: 113.0 (12) DefRtg: 107.0 (1) NetRtg: +5.9 (2) Pace: 95.9 (30)

Evan Mobley continues to have some rough moments offensively. He’s shot just 12-for-33 (36%) on post-ups, he’s just 9-for-33 (27%) from 3-point range, and he had a couple of ugly turnovers (one on a key, late-game possession) in passing situations in the Cavs’ loss in San Antonio on Monday. But overall, the 21-year-old has seen jumps in effective field goal percentage, free throw rate and free throw percentage. He’s had 12 total assists over the Cavs’ three-game winning streak, including a couple of nice dimes to Isaac Okoro on Saturday, when he also hit two big shots — a corner 3-pointer off the catch and a post-up turnaround — late in the fourth quarter against Dallas.

Mobley is now 11-for-16 on clutch shots and the Cavs are 5-0 in overtime, having held their opponents to just 39 points on 55 overtime possessions (71 per 100). It wasn’t good that they were in a hole against a Mavs team that was without Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie, but they have the league’s second best record (7-9) in games they’ve trailed by double-digits after going 12-29 in those games last season. They did beat the Mavs with Doncic earlier in the week, the fourth game this season in which Donovan Mitchell has had at least 30 points on a true shooting percentage of 80% or better. That leads the league, with Lauri Markkanen (who was traded for Mitchell) being the only other player with three such games.

Mitchell and the Cavs will face Markkanen and the Jazz on Tuesday, Game 3 of their six-game homestand (longest of the season). They’ll then face the Bucks for the third time, having allowed more than 120 points per 100 possessions over two November losses (over which Jarrett Allen played just 12 total minutes) in Milwaukee.

Week 10: vs. UTA, vs. MIL, vs. TOR

Last Week:2

Record: 18-11

OffRtg: 114.9 (5) DefRtg: 109.7 (6) NetRtg: +5.2 (3) Pace: 100.3 (12)

The Pelicans went from winning seven straight games to losing three straight. Six of the seven wins came at home (with the one road win coming in San Antonio), and all three losses have come on the road. The defense that ranked third a week ago has allowed 121.5 points per 100 possessions over the losing streak, capped by a second half on Saturday in which the Suns scored 72 on 45 (160 per 100). Their overtime defeat in Utah on Thursday was the Pelicans’ first loss (they were previously 15-0 — the last undefeated team) when leading after the third quarter, and their loss to the Suns two nights later came with the largest lead (24 points) any team has had in a game it lost this season. After those two games, the Pelicans are now 8-5 in clutch games, 7-1 at home and 1-4 on the road.

The Pelicans got Herb Jones back last week, but Brandon Ingram suffered a setback in his return from a left toe sprain. He’s now missed 10 straight games and the Pelicans have had their preferred starting lineup available in just one of their last 16. They’ve actually been outscored by two points per 100 possessions in 371 total minutes with their replacement starter (Trey Murphy III) on the floor with the only starter who’s played in all 29 games (Jonas Valanciunas). Bench minutes have been key to their success (and they still have the league’s third ranked bench), but they weren’t so good on the road trip, with the Pelicans being outscored by 38 points in Larry Nance’s 73 minutes.

Their game against the Bucks on Monday is the end of a stretch of six straight games against teams currently over .500 (the first five were all against the Suns and Jazz) and also the start of a stretch where they’re playing five of six at home. They still have a seven-game winning streak at the Smoothie King Center.

Week 10: vs. MIL, vs. SAS, @ OKC

Last Week:7

Record: 18-12

OffRtg: 116.2 (3) DefRtg: 111.4 (10) NetRtg: +4.8 (4) Pace: 98.8 (21)

Raise your hand if you had Josh Okogie saving the Suns’ season.

OK, saving the season is a little overboard. But Okogie, who was 13th on the team in total minutes through the first 22 games, played a significant role as the Suns ended a five-game losing streak and picked up important wins over the Clippers and Pelicans on Thursday and Saturday. He totaled 18 points and 16 rebounds over the two games, with eight of those 16 boards coming on the offensive end of the floor. Three of those eight offensive boards were in the clutch as the Suns protected a late lead after coming back from a 24-point deficit against New Orleans. (Devin Booker’s 58 points were probably a little more important than Okogie’s offensive boards, but still.) The Suns are now the only team that’s won multiple games it has trailed by at least 20 points*, and the 24-point deficit on Saturday is the largest any team has come back from to win this season.

* The Suns are 2-4 when trailing by 20-plus. Other teams are 4-155 (.025).

Of course, Okogie’s best play of the week (and arguably the best play in the league this season) came in the Suns’ loss in Houston on Tuesday, when he somehow snatched Jalen Green’s 3-point attempt out of the air and went the other way for a dunk on Tari Eason. Okogie’s 5.1 deflections per 36 minutes rank fourth among 340 players who’ve played at least 200 total minutes, and over these last eight games in which he’s seen rotation minutes, the Suns have allowed 22.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor (101.5) than they have with him off the floor (124.3).

The Suns have played 19 Christmas games all time, but only two of those 19 have come on the road. They’ll be in Denver on Sunday for their first meeting of the season with the Nuggets.

Week 10: vs. LAL, vs. WAS, vs. MEM, @ DEN

Last Week:6

Record: 18-11

OffRtg: 116.2 (2) DefRtg: 114.8 (27) NetRtg: +1.4 (13) Pace: 99.4 (20)

Nikola Jokic could be getting a little more aggressive. He’s registered a usage rate of 35% or higher six times this season (the Nuggets are 6-0 in those games), and four of those six instances have come in the last 11 days. He was obviously the driving force as the Nuggets set an *NBA record with 98 points in the paint against the Wizards on Wednesday, really taking it to Taj Gibson and Daniel Gafford in the third quarter, when he scored 15 of his 43 (shooting 7-for-7 in the period). On Sunday against Charlotte, Jokic had the line of a lifetime: 40 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists.

* For the last 27 seasons, at least. Points in the paint started being tracked in 1996.

Jokic’s scoring average is now over the 25-point mark (25.2) for the first time since he totaled 53 points over the first two games of the season. His true shooting percentage (69.2%) is much higher than it was last season (66.1%) and would easily be the highest for any player who’s averaged at least 25 points (topping Stephen Curry’s mark of 67.5% in 2017-18). And of course, Jokic’s on-off differential remains ridiculous, with the Nuggets having been 25.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-10.8) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-14.4).

With or without the reigning two-time Kia MVP on the floor, the Nuggets’ defense continues to have issues. The offense was so good that they got away with some laziness in transition against the Wizards, but two nights later, they allowed the Lakers to register 28 fast break points, L.A.’s second highest total and the most the Nuggets have allowed this season.

The next five games might just be the Nuggets’ biggest five-game stretch of the season. Their four-game homestand ends with games against the Grizzlies, Blazers and Suns this week. That run is followed by a two-game series in Sacramento. The Nuggets are 4-3 (2-0 at home) within the top eight in the West thus far, having yet to play Memphis or Phoenix. Denver is 1-6 all-time on Christmas and Jokic is 0-2 in such games, having lost at home to the Pelicans in 2019 and to the Clippers in 2020.

Week 10: vs. MEM, vs. POR, vs. PHX

Last Week:9

Record: 16-12

OffRtg: 112.5 (15) DefRtg: 108.9 (4) NetRtg: +3.6 (7) Pace: 98.1 (26)

The Sixers now have a winning record (6-5) with both James Harden and Joel Embiid in the lineup. They’re 4-0 on their seven-game homestand, and it’s been their best four-game stretch of offense (119.4 points scored per 100 possessions) since late October (before their best players started getting hurt). Joel Embiid has scored more than 30 points in each of their six December games, continuing to shoot better and take more of his shots in the paint. His field goal percentage in the paint (61.6%) and the percentage of his shots that have come in the paint (55%) are both career-high marks, and his 48.7% from mid-range is also the sixth best mark among 32 players with at least 75 mid-range attempts. It’s nice that he can shoot 3s, but it’s also nice that he’s not shooting a lot of them these days.

The Philly defense remains in the top five, and it’s allowed just 91.2 points per 100 possessions in Matisse Thybulle’s 70 minutes on the floor over the homestand. Thybulle hasn’t been playing a ton, but he’s started the last two games and he was 3-for-4 from 3-point range against Sacramento on Tuesday. The Sixers’ schedule has been relatively easy and their defense hasn’t been tested too much; They’ve played just 10 games (only the Nuggets have played fewer) against the 15 teams that currently have winning records (they’re 5-5) and only six of their 28 have come against teams that currently rank in the top 10 offensively. But they clobbered the 16-12 Kings last week, holding the league’s sixth-ranked offense under a point per possession and leading by as many as 28 points.

The Sixers have won 10 of their last 11 games at home and their next opponent — Toronto — is a team that’s lost nine of its last 10 on the road. The final game of their homestand — vs. the Clippers on Friday — could be the most interesting. Kawhi Leonard is 15-1 in regular season games (and has also had some postseason success) against the Sixers.

Week 10: vs. TOR, vs. DET, vs. LAC, @ NYK

Last Week:8

Record: 16-12

OffRtg: 114.8 (6) DefRtg: 112.6 (19) NetRtg: +2.1 (8) Pace: 102.2 (6)

The Kings didn’t have a halftime lead in any of the six games on the road trip that concluded Friday, allowing their opponents to score more than 124 points per 100 first-half possessions over the course of the trip. But they went 3-3 on the trip, finishing it off with comeback wins in Toronto and Detroit. Only the Cavs (6-6) and Clippers (8-10) have better records than the Kings (6-8) when trailing at the half.

Domantas Sabonis totaled 44 points (on 19-for-24 shooting), 33 rebounds and 14 assists over the last two games. De’Aaron Fox (51 points and 19 assists over the two games) wasn’t quite as efficient, but the Kings scored almost 140 points per 100 possessions in their 68 minutes on the floor together. Kevin Huerter missed the Toronto win, but the Kings’ starting lineup has already played more than twice as many minutes (278) as any Kings lineup last season (117 max).

The starters haven’t played at the fastest pace of the league’s most-used lineups, but the Kings were certainly looking for early offense vs. Detroit, with Fox looking to pass ahead after makes and Sabonis pushing the ball off rebounds. The Kings rank second (behind Indiana) in the percentage of their shots that have come in the first six seconds of the shot clock (20.6%), but they’re actually one of three teams (the Blazers and Mavs are the others) with a higher effective field goal percentage in the last 18 seconds of the clock (56.5%, fifth) than they have in the first six (56.0%, 28th).

Back from their six-game trip, the Kings will now play 15 of their next 19 games at home, where they’ve won eight of their last nine. Their longest homestand of the season — six games over 12 days — begins Monday with a visit from the Hornets. The first three opponents are all under .500, and the Kings will have rest advantages against both Charlotte and Washington this week.

Week 10: vs. CHA, vs. LAL, vs. WAS

Last Week:12

Record: 19-12

OffRtg: 114.2 (7) DefRtg: 112.4 (16) NetRtg: +1.8 (9) Pace: 98.7 (22)

The Nets have been taking advantage of a soft stretch of schedule. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games, with only one of those 10 wins (the first one) having come against a team (the Blazers, who were without Damian Lillard) that currently has a winning record. Eight of the 10 wins (including five of the six on their current winning streak) have been within five points in the last five minutes, in part because they’ve had to climb out of some big holes. They were down 18 in Toronto on Friday and down 19 in Detroit on Sunday, but had two big third quarters both nights, outscoring the Raptors and Pistons by 33 points (80-47) over those 24 third-quarter minutes.

Of course, the Nets still needed Kyrie Irving’s game-winner in Toronto and still needed Bojan Bogdanovic to miss a bunch of 3-pointers late (Nic Claxton did block the last one) on Sunday night to escape with those wins. They’re a league-best 12-3 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, with their assist-turnover ratio in the clutch (27/9) almost as impressive as their shooting (58% on 2s, 42% on 3s).

While there’s nary a real quality win over this 10-1 stretch, a lot of good teams have been losing to bad ones over these last few weeks. The Nets have avoided upsets (the one loss was to Boston) and they’ll have a rest advantage against the shorthanded Warriors on Wednesday. A visit from the Bucks two nights later should be a better opportunity to prove they’re a serious threat against the best teams in the league. They had a double-digit, second-half lead in Milwaukee in the second week of the season, before getting outscored by 23 points over the final 21 minutes.

Week 10: vs. GSW, vs. MIL

Last Week:10

Record: 17-13

OffRtg: 114.2 (8) DefRtg: 113.6 (23) NetRtg: +0.6 (15) Pace: 97.7 (27)

It was noted on Thursday that the Blazers ranked as one of the league’s most improved defensive teams. But that was mostly because of how bad they were last season, and they still ranked just 22nd defensively before Friday, when they allowed the Mavs to score 79 points on 50 possessions over the middle two quarters. In the second, Dallas ran an empty-corner pick-and-roll (with Spencer Dinwiddie) multiple possessions in a row, because the Blazers couldn’t stop it. And in the third, Dallas ran a double-drag pick-and-roll (with Luka Doncic) over and over, because the Blazers couldn’t stop that either.

The Blazers went 2-1 in the Texas Triangle, and are 6-2 in December, still in the top six in the West. They have the league’s No. 1 offense this month (120.3 points scored per 100 possessions) by a healthy margin, with Anfernee Simons shooting 51% from the field, 41% from 3-point range and 14-for-14 from the line. Damian Lillard has shown some burst going to the basket, but has increased his 3-point frequency, taking 65% of his shots from beyond the arc in December, with double-digit attempts in eight of his last nine games overall. He passed Jamal Crawford for eighth all-time in made 3-pointers (2,223) on Saturday and Simons has a chance to pass Stephen Curry for the season lead in the next couple of weeks.

The Blazers have done a good job taking care of business, 9-3 against the teams that are currently at or below .500, with two of the three losses having come to the Mavs, who just dropped to .500 with their Doncic-less loss on Saturday. The Blazers will play their first two games against the Thunder this week, before ending their six-game trip in Denver on Friday. The Blazers split their first two games with the Nuggets, with their October win being the fourth most efficient offensive performance (135 points on 96 possessions) for any team this season.

Week 10: @ OKC, @ OKC, @ DEN

Last Week:13

Record: 18-14

OffRtg: 108.1 (29) DefRtg: 108.9 (3) NetRtg: -0.7 (19) Pace: 98.6 (23)

The Clippers are more banged up than they were a week ago, with Paul George (knee soreness), Reggie Jackson (Achilles inflammation) and Ivica Zubac (bone bruise in his knee) having each missed the last two games. Norman Powell, meanwhile, has missed the last 10 games. But Kawhi Leonard has played in the last six games that weren’t the back end of a back-to-back, and he had his two best performances of the season last week. He led the Clippers to a big win against the Celtics on Monday with 25 points (on 10-for-12 shooting), nine rebounds and six assists. He also scored a season-high 31 points (with four big buckets in the final four minutes) in a win over Washington on Saturday afternoon.

The Clippers are now 9-2 with Leonard in uniform, and they’ve outscored their opponents by 13.9 points per 100 possessions (having allowed just 97 per 100) in his 292 minutes on the floor. They’ve won four of their last five overall, despite some ugly offense, because it’s been their best stretch of defense (101.4 allowed per 100) this season. The Clippers are the only team that’s ranked in the top 10 defensively in each of the last three seasons, and they’re now up to third this season. They’re one of five teams that rank in the top 10 in both opponent field goal percentage in the paint and opponent effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint, and they’re also in the top 10 in both opponent free throw rate (fourth) and defensive rebounding percentage (seventh).

And that’s with their two elite perimeter defenders having played just 195 total minutes together. We should never count our chickens with this team, but after a three-day break, there appears to be a chance that the Clippers will be completely healthy when they host the Hornets Wednesday. They’ll begin a five-game trip two nights later in Philadelphia.

Week 10: vs. CHA, @ PHI

Last Week:14

Record: 17-15

OffRtg: 115.7 (4) DefRtg: 114.1 (25) NetRtg: +1.6 (12) Pace: 100.5 (11)

A reason why the Jazz haven’t been as bad as most prognosticators thought is that their rotation includes a lot more seasoned veterans than the those of the teams that currently sit at the bottom of the standings. They rank just 21st in the percentage of their minutes (11%) that have come from rookies or second-year players, and that includes minutes from a 27-year-old rookie (Simone Fontecchio).

The one real neophyte logging minutes is rookie center Walker Kessler, who had a nice two-game set as the Jazz completed a three-game, season-series sweep of the Pelicans. Kessler totaled 22 points, 24 rebounds and six blocks over the two wins, and he was on the floor (instead of starter Jarred Vanderbilt) down the stretch of the Jazz’s overtime victory on Thursday. All of his four field goals came in the fourth quarter or overtime and he had both a big block on a Zion Williamson put-back and a big put-back of his own in the extra period. Kessler has the 10th best rim protection mark (53.7%) among 64 players who’ve defended at least 100 shots at the rim and, though he’s taken only five shots from outside of five feet, it’s impressive for a rookie to have the highest field goal percentage (74.5%) among the 279 players with at least 100 field goal attempts.

With those two wins over New Orleans, the Pelicans have played the most games within the top eight in the Western Conference and have the best record (10-5) in games played within the group. Their loss in Milwaukee on Saturday (one of their worst offensive performances of the season) began of a stretch of four straight games against the East and dropped the Jazz to just 2-6 against the opposite conference. Only the Bulls (2-9) have been worse in interconference games.

Week 10: @ CLE, @ DET, vs. WAS

Last Week:15

Record: 15-15

OffRtg: 114.0 (10) DefRtg: 112.2 (13) NetRtg: +1.7 (11) Pace: 96.4 (29)

Luka Doncic continues to lead the league in time of possession for a third straight season, and it seems the Mavs are taking some precautions in regard to the load he’s been carrying. This weekend was the second straight back-to-back (and the third time this season) in which they rested Doncic in the second game. They’re 0-3 (with losses to the Rockets and Bulls) without him and their loss in Cleveland on Saturday dropped the Mavs back down to .500. But being .500 at this point in the season isn’t a terrible situation given the parity in the Western Conference. The Mavs are 8-3 against the eight West teams ahead of them in the standings after eviscerating the Blazers’ defense on Friday.

Kemba Walker was DNP’d in eight of his first nine games with the Mavs and has been playing behind Frank Ntilikina. But he got a chance to start with Doncic out on Saturday, and he led all scorers with 32 points, blowing past Jarrett Allen for the game-tying bucket at the end of the fourth quarter. The Mavs obviously can’t overuse Walker and he certainly has limitations on defense, but it will be interesting to see if he has a larger role going forward. Dallas has scored 12.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with Doncic off the floor (104.9) than it has with him on the floor (117.7), more than double his on-off differential from last season (5.1 per 100).

Fifteen of the Mavs’ 30 games have come against the Eastern Conference. They’ll now play 13 of their next 15 within the West, currently 10-5 (with five straight wins) against their own conference. Their game against the Lakers on Sunday will be just the Mavs’ sixth Christmas game and just their second at home, with the previous home game having been a Finals rematch loss to the Heat in 2011.

Week 10: @ MIN, @ MIN, @ HOU, vs. LAL

Last Week:16

Record: 17-13

OffRtg: 112.6 (14) DefRtg: 110.8 (9) NetRtg: +1.8 (10) Pace: 100.0 (16)

Quentin Grimes is in the Knicks’ starting lineup for defense. And as they’ve won seven straight games, the Knicks have allowed less than a point per possession, somehow climbing from 26th to ninth on that end of the floor over the course of 15 days. They actually had an opponent (Chicago) shoot decently from 3-point range (12-for-30) on Friday, but they limited the Bulls to just eight free throw attempts and two offensive rebounds in what was the worst offensive performance of the season for the league’s 21st-ranked offense.

Grimes shot well from 3-point range that night, too. In fact, he was 9-for-16 from beyond the arc of the two-game series in Chicago, draining three big 3-pointers down the stretch of the Knicks’ overtime win on Wednesday. Although Grimes is in there for defense, the starting lineup has scored 121.6 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark (just a tick behind that of the Nuggets’ current starters) among the 17 lineups that have played at least 150 total minutes. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle both had 30-point games last week and RJ Barrett is finally showing some (good) consistency. He’s had an effective field goal percentage over 50% in four of his last five games, having done so in just eight of his 25 prior to that.

Three of the wins on the seven-game streak have come at home, but the Knicks are still just 7-7 at Madison Square Garden, with a four-game homestand beginning Tuesday with a visit from the Warriors. The Knicks are also just 23-31 all-time on Christmas, including 22-24 at home. Those records include a loss to the Sixers at Madison Square Garden five years ago, and Joel Embiid is 14-1 against the Knicks in his career, with the one loss having come early last season.

Week 10: vs. GSW, vs. TOR, vs. CHI, vs. PHI

Last Week:11

Record: 15-16

OffRtg: 113.4 (11) DefRtg: 112.7 (20) NetRtg: +0.7 (14) Pace: 103.1 (1)

Staggering his minutes with those of Draymond Green had reduced Stephen Curry’s on-off differential quite a bit over the last few weeks, from 30.4 points per 100 possessions through the day after Thanksgiving to 18.1 per 100 through the Warriors’ loss (in which Curry injured his shoulder) in Indiana on Wednesday. But, at that point, the Warriors had still scored just 104.8 points per 100 possessions (in only 108 minutes) with Jordan Poole and Green on the floor without Curry. Taking Curry out of the rotation for a few weeks again gives them some minutes when neither Curry nor Green are on the floor. There were 48 of those minutes on Friday, when the champs lost in Philadelphia without Green.

But Green was back two nights later in Toronto, and the Warriors got their third road win of the season. Green made more 3s in the first minute and a half (3) than he had in any game in the last year and a half (since May of 2021), Poole finished with a career-high 43 points, and it was the Warriors’ third most efficient offensive performance of the season (126 points on 97 possessions). Kevon Looney isn’t shooting any 3s, but he has scored 25 points over the last two games and his six offensive rebounds on Sunday helped the Warriors register 24 second chance points. With less shooting, more rebounding could help keep the offense afloat.

The Warriors have two games left on their longest road trip of the season, and they’ll be at a rest disadvantage in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The longest homestand for any team this season is the Warriors’ eight-game homestand that begins with their Christmas game against the Grizzlies.

Week 10: @ NYK, @ BKN, vs. MEM

Last Week:20

Record: 16-15

OffRtg: 109.5 (26) DefRtg: 110.5 (7) NetRtg: -1.0 (20) Pace: 97.7 (28)

A four-game winning streak has the Heat over .500 for the first time this season. The four wins have come against the Pacers, Thunder, Rockets and Spurs, one of the easiest stretches of schedule the Heat will have all season. But all four games were on the road (though it was a pro-Heat crowd in Mexico City on Saturday), where the Heat were 3-9 just seven days ago. Only two guys — Tyler Herro and Max Strus — have played in all four games, and it’s not like the Heat were taking care of business prior to the streak. They had losses (at home) to the Pistons and Spurs earlier this month.

The numbers have been better on defense, and Heat-Pacers on Monday was straight ’90s Eastern Conference basketball. Bam Adebayo played drop coverage for the first few minutes, but then changed it up, started switching everything, and took Tyrese Haliburton out of the game. The Pacers couldn’t take advantage elsewhere on the floor and scored just 82 points on 94 possessions, with the Heat’s 87 on 93 being the second least efficient performance for any winning team this season.

But Tyler Herro also had two of the three highest scoring games of his career, totaling 76 points (shooting 19-for-32 from 3-point range) in Oklahoma City and Houston. For the season, he’s registering career-high marks in both effective field goal percentage (56.0%) and true shooting percentage (59.7%), and the Heat have outscored their opponents by 12.1 points per 100 possessions in 294 total minutes with Herro, Adebayo and Jimmy Butler on the floor.

The Heat are now home for their next four games, with the opponents not much better than the four they just faced. We’ll see if either Miami or Indiana can crack a point per possession when they meet again on Friday.

Week 10: vs. CHI, vs. IND

Last Week:19

Record: 13-16

OffRtg: 111.0 (19) DefRtg: 111.5 (11) NetRtg: -0.5 (18) Pace: 103.0 (2)

Maybe it was just a matter of time. The Lakers got one of their best wins of the season on Friday, outscoring the Nuggets by 24 points over the final 20 minutes and holding the league’s second-ranked offense to just 108 points on 103 possessions. But the win came with a foot injury to Anthony Davis, who had been driving their success with his dominance inside. Davis has missed 113 games over the last four seasons (2018-19 through ’21-22), and he’s probably out an extended period with this new injury, though there’s not a lot of clarity about it more than 48 hours later. Davis had actually played all of the second half plus overtime in the Lakers’ roller-coaster loss to the Celtics on Wednesday.

The Lakers did pull off that second-half comeback against Denver without Davis, and they beat the Wizards on Sunday without him, blowing a 14-point lead, but also getting their first win (they were previously 0-13) when trailing after the third quarter. Thomas Bryant (who started in Davis’ place) totaled 37 points and 16 rebounds over the two games, and he had the game-winning dunk off a scrambled possession on Sunday night. Those two games reduced Davis’ on-off differential from 11.0 to 7.6 points per 100 possessions, though they’ve still been outscored by 5.8 per 100 (allowing 116.9 per 100) in 130 minutes with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on the floor without Davis.

Beating the Wizards (who’ve lost 10 straight games) isn’t exactly a sign that the Lakers can survive without Davis. But they’ll have a relatively easy stretch of schedule (eight straight games against teams no better than the 16-15 Heat) after they visit the Suns and Kings on Monday and Wednesday. Their Christmas game in Dallas is the start of another (five-game) road trip and is their first meeting with the Mavs, who they beat two out of three times last season.

Week 10: @ PHX, @ SAC, vs. CHA, @ DAL

Last Week:17

Record: 15-15

OffRtg: 110.9 (20) DefRtg: 112.3 (14) NetRtg: -1.5 (22) Pace: 101.5 (7)

On Wednesday, the Hawks began a stretch of five straight games against four of the bottom five teams in the Eastern Conference. That stretch began with the Magic outscoring the Hawks by 28 points (50-22) in the first quarter. It was the largest scoring margin in any quarter (for any team) this season and the nadir for a 3-8 stretch for the Hawks. The final score (135-124) was a little more respectable, but it was still Orlando’s most efficient offensive performance in the last three seasons, and the loss dropped the Hawks under .500 for the first time in ’22-23.

The Hawks’ own offense has been good, scoring 132 points per 100 possessions, over the seven quarters since that first one in Orlando. With that, they’ve climbed out of the bottom 10 on that end of the floor and beat the Hornets handily on Friday. Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to shoot well (23-for-42 from 3-point range over his last four games), Trae Young has been able to supplement his sub-par shooting from the field with a bunch of trips to the line, and De’Andre Hunter had a 20-point second quarter in the Orlando game. But, with Clint Capela suffering a calf strain last week, the Hawks are now down three starters, and they’ve been outscored by 8.6 points per 100 possessions (having allowed 120.7 per 100) in 400 total minutes with Young on the floor without Dejounte Murray.

The Hawks will have their final meeting with the Magic on Monday. They’re 3-0 against their other two opponents this week and they’ve scored more than 128 points per 100 possessions in their two wins over Detroit. But they needed that last-second alley-oop to beat Chicago eight days ago.

Week 10: vs. ORL, vs. CHI, vs. DET

Last Week:21

Record: 15-15

OffRtg: 112.1 (16) DefRtg: 112.3 (15) NetRtg: -0.3 (17) Pace: 102.9 (3)

The Wolves are 15-15, a tick worse than the league average (112.2 points per 100 possessions) on offense and a tick worse than the league average on defense. Of course, the path to those marks has not been a straight line. On Wednesday in L.A., the Wolves had their worst offensive performance of the season, shooting 4-for-22 (18%) from 3-point range and scoring a paltry 88 points on 97 possessions. On Sunday against the Bulls, they had the best offensive performance for any team this season, shooting 23-for-43 (53%) from beyond the arc, registering the second highest effective field goal percentage in NBA history (78.7%), and scoring 150 points on 101 possessions.

The Chicago win came without Rudy Gobert and with the return of D’Angelo Russell from a two-game absence. Russell has now averaged 26.7 points on 60/52/89 shooting splits over his six December games and, of course, some other guys came along for the ride on Sunday night. That group included Nathan Knight, who was filling in for Naz Reid, who was filling in for Gobert two nights earlier and scored 28 points in the Wolves’ win in Oklahoma City. That blew a 14-point lead on Friday, but also picked up their first win in a game they trailed after the third quarter. Jagged lines, all of them.

Now 2-0 without Karl-Anthony Towns or Gobert, the Wolves are 1-3 (with losses to the Spurs and Wizards) in the second games of back-to-backs. They’ll be at a rest disadvantage on Monday for the first game of a two-game series (their first two meetings of the season) with the Mavs. Their game in Boston on Friday is the start of a four-game trip and a stretch where 11 of 14 games are against teams currently over .500.

Week 10: vs. DAL, vs. DAL, @ BOS

Last Week:22

Record: 15-16

OffRtg: 112.0 (17) DefRtg: 113.1 (21) NetRtg: -1.1 (21) Pace: 102.3 (5)

The Pacers swept their season series with the Warriors, with both wins coming in the last two weeks. The first win over the champs came without Tyrese Haliburton, and the second came with Haliburton scoring 29 points and registering his highest usage rate of the season. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to beat the Warriors these days.

But the Pacers are otherwise 1-8 since Nov. 30 and it’s been a tough stretch of schedule. At 15-16, the Warriors are actually the second worst team they’ve played over these last 11 games and that one other win came against the only team that’s worse (Washington). After losing three straight games by more than 15 points, the Pacers have been competitive against the tough schedule. In fact, each of their last eight games have been within five points in the last five minutes. But that’s in part because they’ve blown some big leads (25 points against the Warriors on Wednesday and a 13-point, fourth quarter lead in Cleveland on Friday), and they’ve allowed 65 points on 40 clutch defensive possessions over that stretch. The good news is that they won a couple of first quarters last week.

The Pacers also got Chris Duarte back from a 21-game absence on Sunday, but their schedule isn’t getting easier any time soon. Their game in Boston on Wednesday is their first meeting with the Eastern Conference champs, and then they’ll have what could be another rock fight against the Heat. Neither Indiana nor Miami has scored more than a point per possession in either of their two meetings thus far.

Week 10: @ BOS, @ MIA

Last Week:18

Record: 13-17

OffRtg: 112.7 (13) DefRtg: 112.5 (17) NetRtg: +0.2 (16) Pace: 98.6 (24)

The Raptors brought their road woes home with them, and the baggage cleared customs. They’ve lost five straight games, with the last three coming at Scotiabank Arena. One would think that a Raptors’ losing streak would come with anemic offense, and the Raptors have shot just 32% from 3-point range over the five games. But more problematic is that it’s been their worst defensive stretch of the season, with their opponents scoring 122.5 points per 100 possessions.

Opponent 3-point shooting has been an issue; The Raptors will yield corner 3-pointers (a league-high 33% of their opponents’ 3-point attempts have come from the corners), and both the Kings and Warriors drained seven corner 3s against them last week. But opponent shooting in the paint (66% over the five games) has also been an issue, and some of that has come in transition. The Raptors need to run themselves, but they’ve been doubled up (82-40) on fast break points over the last four games, even though they’ve committed just 17 live-ball turnovers over the four.

After losing close games to the Kings and Nets, it would have been nice to take advantage of the Road Warriors, because the schedule only gets tougher from here. Nine of the Raptors’ next 10 games against teams that currently have winning records, and play their next three are on the road, where they’re 3-11. They split a two-game series with the Sixers in October, and their visit to Philly on Monday will be their second rest-disadvantage game of the season (their first was a loss in Indiana).

Week 10: @ PHI, @ NYK, @ CLE

Last Week:27

Record: 11-20

OffRtg: 109.9 (25) DefRtg: 113.7 (24) NetRtg: -3.8 (26) Pace: 98.5 (25)

The Magic suddenly look like the frisky team we expected them to be early in the season. They’ve amazingly followed a nine-game losing streak with six straight wins, including a stunning two-game sweep of the Celtics in Boston. It’s mostly been an offensive streak, with the first five games being the Magic’s most efficient stretch (118.9 points scored per 100 possessions) of the season by far. But the Celtics’ No. 1 offense also scored less a point per possession (shooting 25% from 3-point range) over the weekend.

Paolo Banchero (9-for-13 from 3-point range over the two games in Boston) and Franz Wagner (who’s been getting to the free throw line more) continue to lead the way, but the Magic have been getting contributions from a lot of places. Moe Wagner has started the last nine games in place of Wendell Carter Jr. and had two big nights (42 total points) on Wednesday and Friday, before draining a pair of key free throws in the final seconds on Sunday. (He’s now made 25 straight from the line.) The Magic’s starting lineup — Markelle Fultz, Bol Bol, Wagner, Wagner and Banchero — has actually been outscored by 6.8 points per 100 possessions over the winning streak, but they’ve been getting good minutes from the bench.

The Magic are the only team that hasn’t won the second game of a back-to-back (they’re 0-4 in second games thus far) and also the only team that hasn’t played a rest-disadvantage game (so their opponent was also playing the second game of a back-to-back in all four of those losses). Their first of eight rest-disadvantage games is Monday in Atlanta.

Week 10: @ ATL, @ HOU, vs. SAS

Last Week:23

Record: 12-18

OffRtg: 110.3 (24) DefRtg: 112.0 (12) NetRtg: -1.7 (23) Pace: 102.7 (4)

When the Thunder got a win (against San Antonio) without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the end of November, they had Josh Giddey to run the offense and they got a huge game from Jalen Williams. But over their five-game losing streak (that included two-point losses on Wednesday and Friday), they were outscored by 25.3 points per 100 possessions (scoring an anemic 89.3 per 100) in 63 minutes with Gilgeous-Alexander off the floor. He actually registered a positive plus-minus in the last three of those five losses.

On Saturday against Memphis, the Thunder had neither Gilgeous-Alexander nor Giddey, and Williams shot 0-for-8. But they won anyway, making a season-high 19 3-pointers, with seven different guys draining at least two. Lu Dort and Isaiah Joe (the starting guards) combined for 47 points and the Thunder also got good minutes from their bench, using their usual 11-man rotation despite the absences. They benefited from Ja Morant being ejected just before halftime, but the Thunder were already up 21 at that point. It was their first win (they were previously 0-3 – one of two winless teams) in the second game of a back-to-back and one of their best defensive games of the season, making them a better-than-average defensive team through Week 9.

The Thunder will be without both Gilgeous-Alexander (lower back contusion) and Giddey (illness) again on Monday, when they begin a two-game series with Portland, their first two meetings with the Blazers (who they swept last season) and Games 4 and 5 of their seven-game homestand.

Week 10: vs. POR, vs. POR, vs. NOP

Last Week:24

Record: 11-18

OffRtg: 110.7 (21) DefRtg: 112.6 (18) NetRtg: -1.9 (24) Pace: 101.1 (9)

A few days ago, the Bulls’ record belied their point differential. They suffered a second straight overtime defeat on Wednesday, coming back from a double-digit deficit against the Knicks, only to go scoreless on five straight possessions in the extra period. They’ve been Team Hard Luck all season, now 3-11 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes.

But the record-vs.-point-differential discrepancy isn’t so big now, because the Bulls have lost their last two games by a total of 47 points. After registering their worst offensive performance of the season on Friday (Game 2 of their two-game series with New York), they had the worst defensive performance for any team on Sunday, with Minnesota scoring 150 points on 101 possessions. The Wolves had just four offensive rebounds and just 16 free throw attempts, but their effective field goal percentage (78.7%) was the second highest single-game mark in NBA history. And that was about both 3-point shooting (23-for-43) and shooting in the paint (31-for-39). In 48 minutes, the Bulls went from 10th to 18th in defensive efficiency for the season.

It’s possible that weekends just aren’t the Bulls’ thing. The second loss to New York dropped them to 0-7 on Fridays, and the loss in Minnesota made them 0-5 on Sundays. They’ll play the Knicks again (and for the final time) this Friday, the end of the four-game trip that began with the drubbing in Minnesota. The Bulls will first have a back-to-back in Miami and Atlanta, currently 10-4 on Monday-Thursday and 7-7 within the Eastern Conference as they enter Week 10.

Week 10: @ MIA, @ ATL, @ NYK

Last Week:25

Record: 11-20

OffRtg: 110.5 (23) DefRtg: 113.6 (22) NetRtg: -3.1 (25) Pace: 99.4 (19)

Less than three weeks ago, the Wizards were 11-10, a half game ahead of Brooklyn and six games ahead of Orlando. Now, they’re 11-20, eight games behind the Nets and tied with the Magic with the third worst record in the East. Their 10-game losing streak is only the second double-digit streak (winning or losing) in the league this season, with the Spurs’ 11-game losing streak being the first.

The Wizards’ defense hasn’t been Hornets-level bad of late, and seven of the 10 losses have been within five points in the last five minutes. The double-big experiment continues, and the Wizards have now outscored their opponents by 42 points (39.7 per 100 possessions) in 49 minutes with Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford on the floor together.

But over the last five of those close games, the Wizards have allowed their opponents to score 56 points on 37 clutch possessions (151 per 100). Gafford had a couple of big buckets down the stretch against the Lakers on Sunday, but with the score tied in the final minute, he got caught on the wrong side of a screen and the Wizards allowed LeBron James to waltz down the lane for a go-ahead dunk. After Bradley Beal (returning from a six-game absence) tied the game on the next possession, Porzingis left the paint before the Wizards had secured possession on a loose ball, leaving Thomas Bryant under the basket for another go-ahead dunk.

The last three games of the Wizards’ six-game trip are the end of their only stretch of five games in seven nights, and the three games are against teams that rank third, fourth and sixth offensively. The Wizards did beat the Jazz in November behind a big game from Porzingis, but that was seemingly a different Wizards team than this one.

Week 10: @ PHX, @ UTA, @ SAC

Last Week:26

Record: 9-20

OffRtg: 109.1 (27) DefRtg: 114.7 (26) NetRtg: -5.7 (27) Pace: 99.7 (18)

The Rockets are 2-1 against the Suns, having outscored Phoenix by 77 points (151-84) on restricted area buckets and free throws over their two December wins. Jalen Green was 11-for-12 from the line on Tuesday as the Rockets (despite a 23-10 turnover differential) improved to 8-3 (with six straight wins) in games in which he’s scored at least 25 points. That was also both the first game this season in which the Rockets (who’ve been at their worst — minus-13.1 points per 100 possessions — in the first quarter) never trailed and the first in which the Suns never led.

The Rockets are 1-17 when Green hasn’t scored 25 points, with the second-year guard having shot 13-for-37 (including 1-for-12 from 3-point range) over losses to the Heat and Blazers last week. Kevin Porter Jr. missed a step-back 3-pointer for the tie against Miami and the team was 3-for-29 (10.3%) from beyond the arc against Portland. The Rockets haven’t missed 27 straight, but they now have the two worst 3-point shooting games (3-for-29 and 3-for-28) for any team this season. Now more of an attacking team, they’ve seen drops in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range in each of the last three seasons, and only two teams — the Wolves and Bulls — have been outscored by more points per game (7.6) from beyond the arc.

The Rockets’ first meeting against San Antonio brought an end to the Spurs’ 11-game losing streak. Meeting No. 2 is in Houston on Monday, Game 5 of the Rockets’ seven-game homestand.

Week 10: vs. SAS, vs. ORL, vs. DAL

Last Week:30

Record: 9-20

OffRtg: 108.2 (28) DefRtg: 118.2 (30) NetRtg: -10.0 (30) Pace: 101.2 (8)

Josh Richardson can be a forgotten player in San Antonio and, at 29 years old, he’s not really on the same timeline as most of this roster. But he’s rarely taking a back seat to the kids when he’s on the floor, and his aggressiveness paid off in the Spurs’ win over Cleveland on Monday. He scored 24 points (on 9-for-13 shooting) in 27 minutes off the bench, with some audacious 3s and tough step-backs included within. Richardson has taken only 25% of his shots, the eighth lowest rate among 205 players with at least 150 field goal attempts, in the paint.

Six of the Spurs’ nine wins have come in two three-game winning streaks. With that Richardson performance — along with Keldon Johnson (24.7 points per game) and a bunch of other guys averaging double-figures — the Spurs scored 118.6 points per 100 possessions over the latest streak (which included two games against top-10 defenses). The Spurs still rank just 28th offensively, but they’re ahead of the Clippers, which is rather amazing.

The streak came to an end with the Spurs’ 30th-ranked defense getting torched by the Blazers on Wednesday, the fifth time this season San Antonio has allowed more than 130 points per 100 possessions. (They allowed that much just three times all of last season.) And a fourth-quarter lead was lost with the Heat scoring 17 points on their first nine possessions of the final period in Mexico City on Saturday.

The Spurs have played just three games against the other six teams that have fewer than 12 wins, with one of those being their losing-streak-busting win over the Rockets 11 days ago. They’ll visit Houston and Orlando (having yet to face the Magic) this week, Games 2 and 4 on the four-game trip that began with the Mexico City game.

Week 10: @ HOU, @ NOP, @ ORL

Last Week:28

Record: 8-24

OffRtg: 110.7 (22) DefRtg: 117.2 (29) NetRtg: -6.6 (28) Pace: 99.9 (17)

Cade Cunningham is definitively done for the season after having surgery on his left shin on Friday. He played just 12 games as a sophomore and was on the floor with both of the Pistons’ 2022 Lottery picks — Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren — for just 28 total minutes. Cunningham’s absence might not affect the wins and losses much (the Pistons were 3-9 in those 12 games), but his inability to get the in-game reps he needs (both in general and with his young teammates) will affect him long-term to some degree.

Duren has started the last five games and has had more than 10 rebounds in each of the last six. Isaiah Stewart, meanwhile, continues to look more comfortable shooting from deep; He’s 13-for-29 (45%) from 3-point range over the last six games and now up to 38.5% for the season, looking pretty smooth on the pick-and-pop (though he’ll still dunk on dudes). The Pistons have now outscored their opponents by 5.9 points per 100 possessions (and grabbed 54.6% of available rebounds) in 168 total minutes with the rookie and Isaiah Stewart on the floor together.

The Pistons are 2-1 against the other teams with fewer than 13 wins, having won an overtime barn-burner in Charlotte on Wednesday. (They’ve still yet to play the Rockets, Spurs or Bulls.) They’ll have a rest advantage against the Jazz on Tuesday, what will be their third straight game against a top-10 offense. They allowed more than 120 points per 100 possessions in each of the first two, blowing a 19-point lead to Brooklyn on Sunday.

Week 10: vs. UTA, @ PHI, @ ATL

Last Week:29

Record: 7-23

OffRtg: 107.5 (30) DefRtg: 114.9 (28) NetRtg: -7.3 (29) Pace: 100.3 (13)

The Hornets got Lonzo Ball and Gordon Hayward back last week, but their losing streak continued with losses to the Pistons and Hawks, two teams dealing with their own struggles. After his team allowed Detroit to score 141 points on 112 possessions in an overtime defeat on Wednesday, Hornets coach Steve Clifford said, “All we care about is scoring.” Two nights later against Atlanta, the Hornets had their sixth straight game in which they allowed more than 120 points per 100 possessions. (There are 11 teams who haven’t allowed more than 120 per 100 more than five times all season.) That really-bad-defense streak actually ended against the league’s second-ranked offense as they began a six-game trip (their longest of the season) in Denver on Sunday. But their losing streak hit eight games because the Hornets (who rank last in clutch defense) couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch.

This is their second eight-game losing streak of the season, with the Charlotte offense significantly better in this one (109.9 points scored per 100 possessions) than it was in the first one (100.6). Ball has averaged 27 points on 49/46/90 shooting splits (with 35 of his 57 shots having come from 3-point range) over his three games back, and the Hornets continue to gobble up offensive rebounds. They had three straight games of more than 20 second chance points before the loss in Denver on Sunday, when Nikola Jokic grabbed all the boards.

Alas, Terry Rozier suffered a hip contusion on Sunday, with the Ball-Rozier-Hayward trio having played just 21 total minutes together this season. Hopefully, we’ll get some more of those minutes on this trip, with the Charlotte defense set to face two more top-10 offenses over the next five games. The Hornets will have a rest disadvantage against the sixth-ranked Kings on Monday.

Week 10: @ SAC, @ LAC, @ LAL