Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 11: Celtics reclaim top spot as Nuggets, Nets climb

See where all 30 teams rank as we enter Week 11 of the 2022-23 season.

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets rise to No. 6 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Do you remember when the Brooklyn Nets were 1-5? Or maybe when they were 6-9?

Well, the Nets are now 21-12, the fifth-best mark in the league. And while the Western Conference still has an edge in interconference games (see below), the East had a big week last week. It now has four of the five best teams in regard to winning percentage, with another (the streaking 76ers) among the three teams that are (at 20-12) just a half-game behind that top five.

The fourth-place Nets picked up a big win over Milwaukee on Friday, and they’ll have another huge matchup on Monday (7 ET, NBA TV), when they visit the third-place Cavs. It will be the Nets’ 10th game against one of the other 11 teams that are currently at least three games over .500.

There have been 70 games between those 12 teams total, including a Nuggets-Suns thriller on Christmas night. Here is each team’s record in those 70 games:

Records in games played between league’s top 12 teams

Team GP W L PCT +/- Per game Rank
Boston 11 8 3 0.727 +86 +7.8 1
Denver 8 5 3 0.625 -7 -0.9 9
Philadelphia 10 6 4 0.600 +14 +1.4 4
Milwaukee 12 7 5 0.583 -5 -0.4 8
Utah 16 9 7 0.563 0 0.0 7
Cleveland 10 5 5 0.500 +19 +1.9 3
Memphis 13 6 7 0.462 +59 +4.5 2
Phoenix 13 6 7 0.462 -28 -2.2 10
Sacramento 11 5 6 0.455 +8 +0.7 5
New Orleans 14 6 8 0.429 +5 +0.4 6
Brooklyn 9 3 6 0.333 -50 -5.6 11
LA Clippers 13 4 9 0.308 -101 -7.8 12

With their convincing win over the Bucks on Sunday, the Boston Celtics lead the way. And they’re back in the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Denver (3-0) — The Nuggets played three of the other eight West teams with winning records and they beat them all to move into first place.
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: L.A. Lakers (0-4) — Anthony Davis is important.

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 10

  • Toughest: 1. Chicago, 2. Detroit, 3. Oklahoma City
  • Easiest: 1. LA Clippers, 2. Denver, 3. Philadelphia
  • 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: Denver (+5), Indiana (+5), Brooklyn (+4)
  • Free falls of the week: L.A. Lakers (-7), Miami (-4), Milwaukee (-4)

Week 11 Team to Watch

  • Sacramento At 17-14, the Kings are still in the top six in the West. But 19 of their 31 games have been against the Eastern Conference and the Kings will now play 28 of their 33 within the West. That stretch begins with four important games this week: a two-game series against the Nuggets, another home game against the Jazz (Friday), and a visit to Memphis (Sunday). If the Kings are going to remain in playoff position, they’ll have to do it with wins against teams they’re in direct competition with.

Previous Power Rankings

  • This time last year: Warriors grab No. 1 spot from Suns — Lance Stephenson and Joe Johnson signed 10-day contracts with the Hawks and Celtics. Otto Porter Jr. was the late-game hero as the Warriors edged the Suns, Nicolas Claxton thrunked on LeBron James, and Jrue Holiday made some big defensive plays down the stretch against the Celtics on Christmas (when four of the five games were close). Back in the Knicks’ starting lineup after a long time out of the rotation, Kemba Walker had a 44-point performance and a triple-double.

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 112.5 points scored per 100 possessions and 99.9 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:2

Record: 24-10

OffRtg: 117.2 (1) DefRtg: 110.7 (7) NetRtg: +6.5 (1) Pace: 100.2 (14)

After an 0-3 start to their seven-game homestand, the Celtics got an important win over the Wolves on Friday. It wasn’t just important because it ended a 1-5 stretch, but also because the Celtics were able to get a win while shooting poorly (13-for-48, 28%) from 3-point range. They did it by outscoring the Wolves (who rank third in restricted-area point differential per game) by 21 points (66-45) on restricted-area buckets and free throws, with Jaylen Brown (23), Jayson Tatum (21) and Derrick White (14) accounting for 58 of those 66 points. For the season, the Celtics rank just 25th in the percentage of their shots that have come in the restricted area and 20th in free throw rate. But they got to the rim and to the line on Friday.

The big offensive breakout came on Christmas when Boston scored 139 points on 103 possessions against Milwaukee’s top-five defense. The 3s were falling (the Celtics were 19-for-39 from beyond the arc), Tatum (41 points total) outscored Giannis Antetokounmpo (20-12) on restricted area buckets and free throws, and the Celtics also won the turnover battle. They’re now 16-1 (with 14 straight wins) when they’ve had an assist/turnover ratio of at least 1.9 and 8-9 (with five straight losses) when it’s been lower than 1.9. The Celtics had fallen out of the top spot in offensive efficiency prior to the weekend wins, but they’re back, with another matchup against a top-five defense coming this week.

The Celtics’ seven-game homestand wraps with games against the Rockets and Clippers. The Clips are the team with that top-five defense and the team that handed the Celtics their worst loss of the season (20 points) two weeks ago when Boston was without both Al Horford and Robert Williams III. The Cs will then play 10 of their first 13 January games on the road, and a four-game trip begins Sunday with a matchup of the first-place teams in their respective conferences and the league’s top two offenses. The Celtics’ first game against Denver (a 19-point win on Nov. 11 in Boston) was their most efficient offensive game of the season.

Week 11: vs. HOU, vs. LAC, @ DEN

Last Week:7

Record: 21-11

OffRtg: 116.2 (2) DefRtg: 114.0 (24) NetRtg: +2.2 (9) Pace: 99.3 (19)

In this year’s Western Conference, a strong, eight-game stretch can take you into first place. And the Nuggets have had a strong, eight-game stretch, going 7-1 over the last 18 days, with five of those seven wins having come against other Western Conference teams with winning records. It was written in this space last week that the Nuggets’ next five games could be their biggest stretch of the season, and they’re 3-0 so far, having beat the Grizzlies, Blazers and Suns to complete a 4-0 homestand.

The win over Memphis was a little ugly, but the Nuggets remain the only team that hasn’t scored less than a point per possession in a game this season. Michael Porter Jr. was just 2-for-11 from 3-point range in his first two games back from a 13-game absence, but the Nuggets still scored 121 points per 100 possessions over their weekend wins. That included 15 points on 11 possessions in overtime on Sunday, when Aaron Gordon gave us the dunk of the year. It was a risky play in more ways than one, but it was spectacular. Gordon is averaging 17.5 points (the second-highest mark in his nine seasons), with his effective field goal percentage (65.7%) and true shooting percentage (66.9%) being the best marks of his career by wide margins. He’s certainly not the most eager 3-point shooter, but he’s one of two players (Nicolas Claxton is the other) that have shot better than 70% on at least 200 field goal attempts in the paint.

The Nuggets have still played the fewest games (they’re 5-3) within the top 12 teams in the league (those that are at least three games over .500). They’ll play three more games within that group this week and, while their schedule remains home-heavy for the next four weeks, their first two meetings with the Kings are in Sacramento. They’re a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back and the start of the Nuggets’ only stretch of five games in seven nights this season. Denver has thus far played just two back-to-backs (fewest in the league), but will have three in the next 12 days.

Week 11: @ SAC, @ SAC, vs. MIA, vs. BOS

Last Week:4

Record: 22-12

OffRtg: 113.2 (12) DefRtg: 107.2 (1) NetRtg: +6.0 (2) Pace: 96.1 (30)

Donovan Mitchell started the season on fire, and he hasn’t cooled off that much. He averaged 31.8 points on an effective field goal percentage of 65.3% as the Cavs won five straight games to climb within a game of first place in the Eastern Conference. In his first game against his former team (Monday in Cleveland), Mitchell scored 23 points in less than 23 minutes, shooting 4-for-5 from 3-point range. His shooting from the field wasn’t so great two nights later, but he was 15-for-16 from the line as the Cavs beat the Bucks in a game they led by as many as 26 points. Mitchell is still registering career-high marks (by healthy margins) for effective field goal percentage (59.2%) and true shooting percentage (63.6%), with the latter mark ranking ninth among the 51 players who’ve averaged at least 20 points per game. And with that victory over the Bucks, the Cavs are 13-3 (with eight straight wins) when he’s scored 30 points or more.

But the five-game winning streak came to an end against Toronto on Friday, when the Cavs surrendered 27 fast break points (the most they’ve allowed since October) and 19 3-pointers (the most they’ve allowed all season). The Raptors (who don’t have a real center of their own) somehow scored 41 points on 22 possessions (186 per 100) with neither Jarrett Allen nor Robin Lopez on the floor (and Evan Mobley at the five).

The Cavs’ six-game homestand concludes Monday with their first meeting with the Nets, with third place in the Eastern Conference on the line. Their biggest win of this season (128-96) came in Week 1 in Chicago, and they’ll be back at the United Center on Saturday for Game 1 of a home-and-home series against the Bulls.

Week 11: vs. BKN, @ IND, @ CHI

Last Week:1

Record: 20-12

OffRtg: 113.4 (11) DefRtg: 109.2 (4) NetRtg: +4.2 (5) Pace: 101.2 (9)

Ja Morant said, “I’m fine in the West” (regarding teams the Grizzlies will have to go through) in an ESPN interview last week, but the Grizz are now just 9-9 within the conference after going 1-3 on a four-game trip that concluded with a double-digit loss at the hands of the Steph-less Warriors. The Grizz thumped the Suns on Friday, but scored just 99 points per 100 possessions (shooting 23.6% from 3-point range) over the three losses. They can often make up for missed shots by crashing the glass (they had a top-five offense while ranking 23rd in effective field goal percentage last season), but losses in Oklahoma City and Denver were their two worst offensive rebounding games of the year.

The 1-3 trip knocked the Grizz out of first place and out of the top 10 in offensive efficiency. They’ve still been the league’s best home team, both in regard to record (13-2 – now tied with the Warriors) and point differential per 100 possessions (plus-13.2), but only two teams (the Blazers and Bulls) have played fewer home games than the Grizzlies. They’ll now play eight of their next 12 games at FedExForum, with three big ones there in the next seven days.

After splitting their games in Denver and Phoenix last week, the Grizz are 4-6 against the other eight West teams that have winning records, set to host the Suns, Pelicans and Kings this week. They’ll have a rest advantage against New Orleans on Saturday, but will then have a disadvantage against Sacramento the following night.

Week 11: vs. PHX, @ TOR, vs. NOP, vs. SAC

Last Week:8

Record: 20-12

OffRtg: 113.0 (13) DefRtg: 108.7 (2) NetRtg: +4.3 (4) Pace: 97.7 (26)

Fourth quarters haven’t mattered much in Philly games this season. The Sixers are 19-1 when they’ve been ahead or tied after the third quarter, with the one loss having come (at home) against New York on Nov. 4. And before Sunday, they were 0-11 when they trailed after the third quarter. But now they’re 1-11, turning their Christmas game against the Knicks around with an amazing, 38-15 run spanning the third and fourth quarters that turned a nine-point deficit into a 14-point lead (they trailed by one at the quarter break). James Harden had 13 points and four assists over that run and finished with 29 and 13 less than 48 hours after posting the first 20-20 game of his career. Joel Embiid (now 15-1 against the Knicks) also totaled 79 points over the two weekend wins, continuing to do most of his damage in the paint.

(So, fourth quarters haven’t mattered … unless the Sixers were playing the Knicks.)

Tobias Harris had a pretty quiet afternoon (eight points on 4-for-10 shooting) in New York but hit three big shots earlier in the week, and all three of those big shots came from the right corner. He had a right-corner 3 on the Sixers’ 10-0 run late in regulation vs. Toronto, his right-corner 3 (with a clever screen from P.J. Tucker) in overtime was the Sixers’ only field goal as they won the extra period by a score of 5-2, and his right-corner 3 with a little more than four minutes left on Friday gave the Sixers the lead for good against the Clippers. Over the last three seasons (including the 2021 and 2022 playoffs), Harris is 57-for-118 (48%) from the right corner and just 31-for-96 (32%) from the left corner.

The Sixers’ seven-game homestand is over, but with the comeback in New York, their winning streak is still going, and they rank third in both offensive and defensive efficiency over the eight games.

Embiid missed both games when the Sixers and Wizards split a home-and-home series earlier this season, and the third meeting will be Tuesday in Washington. Zion Williamson has played just one career game against Philly, with the Sixers and Pelicans set to meet twice in the next eight days.

Week 11: @ WAS, @ NOP, @ OKC

Last Week:10

Record: 21-12

OffRtg: 115.2 (5) DefRtg: 112.1 (11) NetRtg: +3.1 (7) Pace: 98.8 (23)

The first step to being a great team is taking care of business against the bad ones, but the Nets needed a signature win to legitimize their run up the standings over the last month. And they got it on Friday, with a balanced offensive attack in a comfortable win over the Bucks, just their third win over one of the other 11 teams that are currently at least three games over .500. It was the sixth time on the Nets’ eight-game winning streak in which they scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions, and this instance came against a top-five defense. The Nets now rank second in field goal percentage in the paint (60.8%), first in mid-range field goal percentage (51.3% – the highest mark in 27 years of shot-location data), and fourth in 3-point percentage (38.4%).

Kevin Durant is obviously responsible for much of that success, shooting 68.2% in the paint and 57.3% from mid-range (the best individual mid-range mark in these last 27 seasons). But the paint percentage is also due to the finishing ability of Nic Claxton, who shot 9-for-10 on Friday and is now 157-for-208 (75.5%) in the paint, the second-best mark among 169 players with at least 100 paint attempts. Claxton is also second in the league at 2.3 blocks per game (having averaged 2.8 over the last five weeks) and the Nets have been at their best (plus-14.9 points per 100 possessions) with him on the floor as they’ve won 12 of their last 13 games. They’ve even scored 122 per 100 in 86 total minutes with Claxton and Ben Simmons on the floor together over that stretch. Claxton has 10 assists over the last two games and, while most of those are simple handoffs, he’s been making good decisions as a roll man.

The Nets, amazingly, now have the fifth-best record in the NBA. And they’ll now face the team with the fourth-best record (and the league’s top-ranked defense) for the first time, as the road-heavy portion of their schedule continues. The Nets and Cavs will be playing for third place in the East on Monday, having played for the 7 seed the last time they met (in the 7-8 Play-In game).

Week 11: @ CLE, @ ATL, @ CHA

Last Week:3

Record: 22-11

OffRtg: 111.7 (18) DefRtg: 109.3 (5) NetRtg: +2.4 (8) Pace: 100.1 (15)

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s seven field goals from outside the paint in Boston on Sunday tied his career high. But he had just two buckets in the paint, the Bucks’ defense got picked apart by the Celtics, and Milwaukee trailed by more than 20 points for the third straight game. It’s the Bucks’ first three-game losing streak since Games 5-7 of last season.

With Khris Middleton missing the last five games, the Bucks have had three different starting lineups in the three losses. But no matter who the fifth guy has been, they’ve gotten off to bad starts, getting outscored by a total of 30 points (107-77) over the three first quarters. Prior to Wednesday, the Bucks were the third-best first-quarter team in the league (plus-11.5 points per 100 possessions). But they allowed the Cavs, Nets and Celtics to score those 107 first-quarter points on just 75 possessions (143 per 100). They cut big deficits into manageable ones in Cleveland and Brooklyn, and the Christmas game was close until late in the third quarter, but they never did completely climb out of any of those early holes. With the three losses, the Bucks have slipped to fifth in defensive efficiency and are now 4-4 (3-0 at home, 1-4 on the road) in games played between the top five teams in the East.

The Bucks surely went home from Boston, but they still have one more game (in Chicago on Wednesday) on their five-game “trip.” Their first meeting with the Bulls (in Milwaukee in late November) was one of the three times this season the Bucks have lost (they’re 20-3, tied for the league’s second-best mark) after holding a double-digit lead. This meeting will begin a stretch where they’re playing six straight games against teams currently below .500.

Week 11: @ CHI, vs. MIN, vs. WAS

Last Week:5

Record: 20-12

OffRtg: 114.9 (6) DefRtg: 109.9 (6) NetRtg: +4.9 (3) Pace: 100.8 (11)

Though they blew a 21-point lead (before winning in overtime) in Oklahoma City on Friday, the Pelicans know how to take care of business. They certainly haven’t been terrible against good teams, but with wins over the Spurs and Thunder (both without Zion Williamson) last week, they’re now 13-1 (the league’s best mark) against the 13 teams currently at or below .500, with the only loss having come (on the road against the Lakers) almost two months ago (Nov. 2). They’ve since won 12 straight against that at-or-below-.500 group.

The Pels’ offense has been good against both calibers of opponent, and their loss to the Bucks on Monday came with 68 combined points from CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas. But it was also the third time on their four-game losing streak (and the sixth time this season) that they allowed more than 120 points per 100 possessions. In total, they’ve allowed 12.7 fewer points per 100 possessions in those 14 games against the bottom 13 (102.9) than they have in going 7-11 against the other 16 teams that currently have winning records (115.6). And the difference between the four-game losing streak and these last two wins has been a lot more about opponent shooting in the paint (70.1% vs. 57.7%) than it’s been about opponent 3-point shooting (35.1% vs. 34.9%). Overall, the Pels aren’t a team that allows a lot of shots in the paint, but their opponents have shot 60.1% (the league’s third-highest opponent mark) inside.

One below-.500 team the Pels have yet to face is the Wolves, who’ll they’ll host on Wednesday. But five of their next seven games are against the above-.500 group, with that stretch including both of their meetings with the Sixers and two rest-disadvantage games on the road. The first of those is Saturday in Memphis, where the Pels had their worst defensive game of the season (132 points allowed on 101 possessions) a month ago. Brandon Ingram remains out, but Williamson is expected to return against Indiana on Monday.

Week 11: vs. IND, vs. MIN, vs. PHI, @ MEM

Last Week:6

Record: 19-15

OffRtg: 116.1 (3) DefRtg: 112.2 (12) NetRtg: +3.9 (6) Pace: 98.6 (24)

With their overtime defeat in Denver on Sunday, the Suns now have as many losses (they’re 5-9) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes as they did all of last season (league-best 33-9). The 78 minutes of ’22-23 clutch time is a small sample size, but in those 78 minutes, the Suns have been 41.6 points per 100 possessions worse (minus-8.2) than they were in clutch time in ’21-22 (plus-33.4), with the differential split pretty evenly between offensive and defensive efficiency.

Devin Booker and Chris Paul were a combined 54-for-95 (57%) on clutch field goal attempts last season, but are 17-for-52 (33%) this season, and they’re also shooting worse on clutch free throws. Paul was 1-for-4 on clutch freebies (0-for-2 in overtime) on Christmas, when Booker wasn’t available, having left the game after four minutes of action, unable to play through his lingering groin injury. The Suns also allowed the Wizards and Nuggets to score 41 points on 31 clutch possessions (132 per 100) in their two narrow losses last week. (They were up 10 with 5 1/2 minutes left against Washington.)

Big picture, the Suns are now 1-5 without Booker (counting the Christmas game), with the one win having come against the Lakers without either LeBron James or Anthony Davis. And, given what happened on Sunday, we can probably expect them to be cautious with their star going forward. The Christmas loss was the start of a six-game road trip (the Suns’ longest of the season), and before they get to the Eastern Conference portion, they’ll have their second meeting with the Grizzlies in the span of five days.

Week 11: @ MEM, @ WAS, @ TOR

Last Week:12

Record: 19-15

OffRtg: 108.7 (29) DefRtg: 108.9 (3) NetRtg: -0.3 (16) Pace: 98.8 (22)

Prior to last week (and for the second straight season), the Clippers were very much a second-half team. Through their first 32 games, they had been 11.9 points per 100 possessions better in the second halves of games (plus-5.5) than they’d been before halftime (minus-6.4). And prior to their game against Charlotte on Wednesday, they’d won the second half by double-digits in five straight games. Though the second half didn’t matter much when they had a 31-point halftime lead against the Hornets, it was a good sign when the Clips had a 20-point lead in the second quarter in Philadelphia two nights later. At close to full strength (John Wall was out) and with Kawhi Leonard seemingly automatic from the mid-range, LA looked terrific on both ends of the floor.

But the 20-point lead was gone by the end of the third quarter, the Clips’ third-ranked defense allowed the Sixers to score 68 points on 48 second-half possessions, and a stretch of four straight Philly scores in the final four minutes gave the Clips just their third loss in the 13 games that Leonard has played. They finished 13-for-18 from mid-range (Leonard was 7-for-8) and made seven corner 3s, but they were outscored by 22 points (38-16) in the restricted area and the jump shots dried up a bit in the second half. The Clips might eventually be one of the best jump-shooting teams we’ve ever seen, but they remain a jump-shooting team, with only 45% of their shots, the league’s fifth-lowest rate, having come in the paint. That rate was just 30% over their two games last week.

The Clips’ five-game trip continues with a Monday-Tuesday back-to-back in Detroit and Toronto, and it will be interesting to see which of those games Leonard plays in (he’s 4-0 against the Raptors since he left them). Thursday brings a second meeting with the Celtics, who the Clips beat by 20 two weeks ago.

Week 11: @ DET, @ TOR, @ BOS, @ IND

Last Week:13

Record: 19-16

OffRtg: 115.7 (4) DefRtg: 114.3 (26) NetRtg: +1.4 (13) Pace: 100.4 (13)

The Jazz lost seven of their first nine games against the Eastern Conference, with their loss in Cleveland on Monday being the first time this season they’ve been held under a point per possession. But they followed that up with wins over the Pistons and Wizards, their two most efficient offensive performances (126.2 points per 100 possessions total) against the opposite conference. Lauri Markkanen totaled 59 points on 59% shooting (including 13-for-22 from 3-point range) over the two games, and the win in Detroit was the fourth time he’s scored 30-plus on a true shooting percentage of 80% or better (tying Donovan Mitchell for the league lead in such games).

The Jazz’s defense has slipped quite a bit since their 10-3 start to the season, but the offense remains in the top five, flourishing from both beyond the arc (the Jazz are one of six teams that rank in the top 10 in both 3-point percentage and the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range) and on the offensive glass. They were down a floor spacer last week with Kelly Olynyk out, but their starting lineup (with Walker Kessler in Olynyk’s place) scored 85 points on 60 possessions (142 per 100) over the three games. Through Week 10, the Jazz are one of two teams – the Clippers are the other – that rank in the top five on one end of the floor and in the bottom five on the other.

The first two games of the Jazz’s three-game trip this week are the last two games on a stretch of four straight against bottom-10 defenses. The last game of the trip is their first meeting with the Kings, who they trail by percentage points for sixth place in the Western Conference. The Jazz are 15-9 within the West, but just 5-7 (with four straight losses) on the road.

Week 11: @ SAS, @ GSW, @ SAC, vs. MIA

Last Week:9

Record: 17-14

OffRtg: 114.9 (7) DefRtg: 113.2 (19) NetRtg: +1.7 (12) Pace: 102.4 (4)

Prior to last week, the Kings were 8-4 at home and set to play 15 of their next 19 games at the Golden 1 Center. And they had a great opportunity to start that stretch strong, with the first three games on their six-game homestand against the Hornets, Lakers and Wizards, and with rest advantages against both Charlotte and Washington. Alas, they lost both of those rest-advantage games, despite the opponents both shooting less than 33% from 3-point range and despite De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis combining to shoot 54% from the field over the two losses.

Sabonis’ on-off differential isn’t quite Jokic-level, but it’s pretty big, with the Kings having been 11.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-6.1) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-5.3). In those two losses to Charlotte and Washington, the Kings scored just 40 points on 50 possessions (80 per 100) with Sabonis on the bench. Richaun Holmes seemed like one of the best backup centers in the league coming into the season, but clearly doesn’t have Mike Brown’s trust, having played just 147 total minutes over 17 of the Kings’ 31 games.

Nineteen of those 31 games have come against the Eastern Conference, and the Kings will now play 28 of their next 33 within the West. They remain healthy (their top seven guys in minutes per game have seven total games) and their next five – vs. Denver (x 2), Utah (x 2) and Memphis – could be one of their most important stretches of the season. They’re currently 2-4 against the other eight West teams that have winning records.

Week 11: vs. DEN, vs. DEN, vs. UTA, @ MEM

Last Week:14

Record: 18-16

OffRtg: 114.3 (8) DefRtg: 112.6 (16) NetRtg: +1.7 (11) Pace: 96.2 (29)

The Mavs still have a better record against the other 16 teams that are currently over .500 (11-8) than they do against the 13 teams that are currently below .500 (6-8). That latter mark includes losses to Orlando, Washington, Houston and Detroit, and the Mavs lost (with a rest advantage) in Minnesota on Monday, getting outscored by 40 points (58-18) in the paint, even though Rudy Gobert wasn’t playing.

They were outscored by 24 points in the paint in the same building (and with Gobert in uniform) two nights later but made up for that discrepancy at the free-throw line and from beyond the arc. (The Mavs have outscored their opponents from 3-point range in 30 of their 34 games.) And the Wednesday win was the start of what’s now a three-game streak, with the Mavs also taking care of business against the Rockets and Lakers. The Houston win came with 50 points (and 10 assists) from Luka Doncic, and the Christmas victory was the fifth time this season that the Mavs have scored more than 130 points per 100 possessions. (That’s the second most for any team, behind the Celtics’ six.)

Christian Wood has started the last five games and he had 30 points against the Lakers on Sunday, just the Mavs’ fifth win in the 14 games in which he’s scored 20 or more. Dorian Finney-Smith has missed the last three games, but Dallas has outscored its opponents by 13.2 points per 100 possessions (scoring 123.1 per 100) in 336 total minutes with Doncic, Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the floor together.

The Mavs will finish their season series with the Rockets with two more games in the next eight days. Their first meeting with the Spurs is Saturday in San Antonio, and it should be noted that six of those eight losses to currently-below-.500 teams have come on the road.

Week 11: vs. NYK, vs. HOU, @ SAS

Last Week:11

Record: 17-16

OffRtg: 113.9 (10) DefRtg: 114.0 (25) NetRtg: -0.1 (15) Pace: 97.7 (27)

The Blazers won six of their first seven road games this season. But since then, they’re just 4-9 away from the Moda Center, with three of those four wins against three of the five teams that have losing records at home. And the Thunder were just 7-7 at home before sweeping a two-game series with Portland last week. The two games were different in regard to how efficiently the two teams scored (efficiently on Monday, not so much on Wednesday), but they were the same in that the Blazers led by double-digits early, turned the ball over more, and attempted 16 fewer free throws each night.

They lost the two games by a total of five points, scoring just 19 points on 23 clutch possessions. The Blazers didn’t shoot poorly down the stretch, but committed six clutch turnovers, with the end of the Monday game looking like a Keystone Cops routine. With the Blazers up one and the shot clock off, Anfernee Simons deflected Jerami Grant’s inbounds pass to Damian Lillard, allowing the Thunder to take the lead on the ensuing possession. And then Lillard drove to the basket and collided with Josh Hart. (It’s not a foul if it’s your teammate.) The Blazers still have the league’s fourth-ranked clutch offense, but they’ve lost six of their last nine games that were within five points in the last five minutes.

After a non-clutch loss in Denver (in which they allowed the Nuggets to shoot 58%) on Friday, the Blazers still have seven games left on a stretch where they’re playing 12 of 15 against teams that currently have losing records. Four of those remaining seven games are on the road, but they were taking care of business against below-.500 teams until those two losses in Oklahoma City.

Week 11: vs. CHA, @ GSW

Last Week:15

Record: 18-16

OffRtg: 114.0 (9) DefRtg: 111.8 (9) NetRtg: +2.1 (10) Pace: 99.1 (20)

Only four teams in NBA history have finished a season with a winning record on the road and a losing record at home, but three of those four have come in the last two years*, and the Knicks (10-6 on the road and just 8-10 at home) are on pace to do it this season. The Knicks’ winning streak hit eight games with a thrashing of the Warriors on Tuesday (because the champs’ road woes outweigh anybody’s home issues), but they dropped the last three games of their homestand, with the three losses being three of their six worst defensive games of the season (128.7 points allowed per 100 possessions total). One thing the Knicks don’t do well defensively is force turnovers, and their opponents actually had more steals (18) than turnovers (17) over the three games.

* The 2020-21 Pacers, the ’20-21 Spurs and last season’s Nets.

Of course, the Knicks still could have beat the Raptors and Bulls. But they scored just 13 points on 18 clutch possessions over the two games, with Quentin Grimes and Jalen Brunson both going 0-for-2 at the line before DeMar DeRozan’s game-winner on Friday. Prior to those two games, the Knicks had won their last six against the 13 teams that are currently below .500.

Despite the bad defensive numbers over the three-game losing streak, the Knicks are one of three teams – the Celtics and Pelicans are the others – that rank in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. The last five games have actually been their best offensive stretch of the season (122.6 points scored per 100 possessions).

The Knicks’ 10-6 road record includes a 4-3 mark in Western Conference arenas. They’re the second team to do a “Texas Triangle” trip this month, with the Blazers having gone 2-1 (with the loss in Dallas) two weeks ago and with the last team to go 3-0 on a Texas Triangle trip (three straight games in the three Texas arenas) being the 2007-08, eventual-champion Celtics.

Week 11: @ DAL, @ SAS, @ HOU

Last Week:21

Record: 17-16

OffRtg: 112.3 (16) DefRtg: 113.0 (18) NetRtg: -0.8 (19) Pace: 102.0 (6)

Just 11 days after he shot 0-for-9 against the Heat, Tyrese Haliburton went to Miami and dropped a career-high 43 points on ’em. The game-winner came via a guard-guard screen that put Tyler Herro on the ball (before he abandoned it), but Haliburton wasn’t avoiding Bam Adebayo on Friday. He had a big drive against the big man late, and he also drained some 3s (he was 10-for-16 from beyond the arc) from distances that no defender was venturing out to. Haliburton was one of five players who shot better than 40% on at least 200 pull-up 3s last season, and (shooting them almost twice as often per 36 minutes) he’s one of five who’ve done it on at least 100 attempts so far this season.

The Pacers also have the guy who leads the league in catch-and-shoot 3s, and Buddy Hield is 9-for-14 from beyond the arc as they’ve won two straight games for the first time since before Thanksgiving. A 3-8 stretch (featuring some first-quarter issues) had brought the Pacers back to earth a bit, but a big (42-22) first quarter led to a big win in Boston on Wednesday, and the win in Miami pushed the Pacers back ahead of the Heat into eighth place in the East. They’re 9-1 when they’ve been ahead or tied after the first 12 minutes and they now have as many clutch wins (they’re 11-9 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes) as they had all of last season (league-worst 11-34).

The Pacers’ schedule is home-heavy for the next few weeks, but remains pretty difficult in regard to opponent strength, with 10 of the next 12 games against teams that currently have winning records. The Pacers are one of two teams – the Raptors are the other – that have yet to play on a Tuesday or Thursday, and they’ll get both their first Tuesday game (when they’ll be at a rest disadvantage vs. Atlanta) and their first Thursday game this week.

Week 11: @ NOP, vs. ATL, vs. CLE, vs. LAC

Last Week:19

Record: 17-16

OffRtg: 111.7 (19) DefRtg: 112.3 (13) NetRtg: -0.6 (18) Pace: 101.5 (7)

The Hawks have all their starters back and they’ve won three out of four for the first time since Nov. 10. Though it began with a quarter in which they were outscored by 28 points, the last five games have been their best five-game stretch of offense (121.4 points scored per 100 possessions) by a healthy margin. Wins over the Magic and Pistons last week came with two of Trae Young’s five most effective shooting games of the season. His shooting from the field isn’t the most important part of his offensive game and it would be better if he was shooting more off the catch (his 30.3% on pull-up 3s ranks 44th among 63 players with at least 50 attempts), but if Young is starting to find his shot, the Hawks will soon have a better-than-average offense.

Of course, this five-game stretch has come against defensives that rank no higher than 17th. The Hawks needed a foul call in the final seconds against Orlando on Monday to escape with a win after blowing a 12-point lead with a little more than three minutes left. And they blew a late, eight-point lead two nights later against the Bulls, who got some buzzer-beating revenge when John Collins couldn’t handle an airball rebound. The Hawks are 7-7 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, even though their opponents (119.7 points scored per 100 clutch possessions) have been much more efficient in the clutch than they have (102.3).

The Hawks will have a couple of tougher (and important) games this week, their first meeting with the Pacers (a rest-advantage game in Indiana on Tuesday) and their second with the Nets (a rest-disadvantage game at home on Wednesday). They were without Collins and Dejounte Murray when they lost in Brooklyn, with the Nets scoring 14 points on nine clutch possessions, earlier this month.

Week 11: @ IND, vs. BKN, vs. LAL

Last Week:16

Record: 16-18

OffRtg: 112.9 (15) DefRtg: 113.8 (23) NetRtg: -0.9 (20) Pace: 103.1 (1)

This home-road stuff is getting even more ridiculous. The Road Warriors’ defense got eviscerated over the last two games of their six-game trip, allowing the Knicks and Nets to score more than 136 points per 100 possessions, with Brooklyn scoring 91 (on 53 possessions) before halftime on Wednesday. But the Home Warriors began their eight-game homestand by holding the Grizzlies to just 109 points on 105 possessions in a comfortable (but intense) Christmas victory. The champs are now tied (with the Grizzlies themselves) for the league’s best home record (13-2).

Though Stephen Curry isn’t playing, the Warriors continue to use Draymond Green with the bench (with Jordan Poole – instead of Curry – off the floor) at the start of the second and fourth quarters. And those minutes were productive on Sunday, Ty Jerome having a great game (14 points on 6-for-9 shooting) off the bench and Green registering a plus-6 in a little more than 12 minutes on the floor without Poole.

The Warriors outscored the Grizzlies by 41 points from outside the paint but were a minus-24 in the paint and a minus-three at the free-throw line. The Dubs have the league’s worst free throw differential, having been outscored by 5.1 points per game at the stripe. They rank 30th in free throw rate and 28th in opponent free throw rate and would be the 11th team in the 19 seasons since the league expanded to 30 teams to rank in the bottom five in both. Only two of the previous 10 – the 2005-06 Bulls and the ’09-10 Bucks (both coached by Scott Skiles) – made the playoffs and neither won a series.

After the Warriors host the Hornets on Tuesday, they’ll play the two most important games of this homestand. The Jazz and Blazers both bring top-10 offenses to the Chase Center, and the Warriors will be at a rest disadvantage against Utah on Wednesday. Klay Thompson has sat the second game of every back-to-back thus far, but it will be interesting to see if the Warriors prioritize that game over the Charlotte matchup.

Week 11: vs. CHA, vs. UTA, vs. POR

Last Week:22

Record: 15-18

OffRtg: 112.9 (14) DefRtg: 112.3 (14) NetRtg: +0.6 (14) Pace: 98.1 (25)

The Raptors have emerged from the abyss of a six-game losing streak. The last game on that streak was somewhat of a moral victory, an overtime loss in Philly in which the Raps erased two double-digit deficits only to go scoreless on their final six possessions of the extra period. And then they really broke through offensively, scoring 123.5 points per 100 possessions over two road wins against top-10 defenses (those of the Knicks and Cavs). Pascal Siakam led the way in New York with a career-high 52 points, with 18 free throw attempts and with only four of his 17 buckets being assisted.

The win in Cleveland came with four of the eight guys who played scoring at least 18 points. The most important performance in that group was that of Scottie Barnes, who had 25 on 10-for-16 shooting after going 4-for-19 over the first two games of the Raptors’ road trip. Barnes still seems very uncomfortable from beyond the arc; he’s been running himself off open 3s and diving to the paint when he can have himself a wide-open look by staying spaced. He’s 1-for-11 from deep over his last five games and his one 3-point attempt in Cleveland (which came after the game had been decided) looked pretty rough. But he was able to run on Friday, when the Raps had 37 transition points, their highest total since their seventh game of the season, according to Synergy tracking.

Despite the 2-1 trip and the 0-3 homestand that preceded it, the Raptors still have the league’s sixth biggest home-road winning percentage differential (10-6 at home, 5-12 on the road), with nine of their next 10 games at Scotiabank Arena. The first two games in that stretch (against the Clippers and Grizzlies) are their first Tuesday game and their first Thursday game of the season, as well as Games 4 and 5 in a stretch of 10 straight against teams that currently have winning records.

Week 11: vs. LAC, vs. MEM, vs. PHX

Last Week:20

Record: 16-17

OffRtg: 112.1 (17) DefRtg: 112.5 (15) NetRtg: -0.4 (17) Pace: 102.3 (5)

Currently a half-game ahead of the Warriors for 10th place in the West, the Wolves are a team that could really benefit from Stephen Curry’s absence. But they’re dealing with a key absence of their own (they’re 6-6 without Karl-Anthony Towns), they’re in the midst of a relatively tough stretch of schedule, and they still can’t seem to find any consistency. They went 3-0 without Towns and Rudy Gobert, with the most efficient offensive game for any team this season included. But D’Angelo Russell’s offense came back down to earth and upon Gobert’s return, the Wolves dropped two games to fall back below .500.

Anthony Edwards and Gobert hooked up on an alley-oop on Gobert’s first possession back, and the latter had 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting against Dallas on Wednesday. But in Towns’ absence, the Wolves have scored much more efficiently in 223 minutes with Edwards on the floor without Gobert (120.7 points scored per 100 possessions) than they have in 223 minutes with the two on the floor together (110.8 per 100). It’s still a notable difference (116.0 vs. 110.8) if you subtract the Chicago game in which they recorded the second-highest single-game effective field goal percentage in NBA history, and the defense has also been slightly worse in the Edwards-plus-Gobert minutes than it’s been in the Edwards-only minutes. It seems as if, whether Towns is playing or not, the Wolves just haven’t figured out how to play well with the guy they traded a ton of stuff for.

Shooting has been an issue and the Wolves now have the league’s worst 3-point discrepancy, having been outscored by 9.5 points per game from beyond the arc. One of the 11 games in which they’ve outscored their opponent from deep was a win over the Heat just before Thanksgiving, and their four-game trip continues on Miami on Monday.

Week 11: @ MIA, @ NOP, @ MIL, vs. DET

Last Week:17

Record: 16-17

OffRtg: 109.7 (26) DefRtg: 111.0 (8) NetRtg: -1.4 (22) Pace: 97.5 (28)

The Heat have outscored their opponents by 12.1 points per 100 possessions with Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the floor, but their 310 minutes together has them as just the 10th most-used trio on the Heat and the 229th most-used trio league-wide. Butler missed his 12th game of the season on Tuesday, when the Heat were clobbered by the Bulls (minus-17 in less than 12 minutes) with their makeshift starting lineup on the floor. (Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin were also out.)

Butler was back on Friday, when the Heat’s preferred starting lineup registered a plus-6 in a little less than 16 minutes. But bench minutes were not good, the Pacers went on a 24-9 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, and Tyrese Haliburton beat the Heat with a deep 3 when Herro left the man with the ball. Max Strus was 3-for-18 over the two losses last week and has now seen the second biggest drop in effective field goal percentage (from 60.2% to 51.1%) among 154 players with at least 200 field goal attempts in each of the last two seasons. Strus had a positive on-off differential last season, but the Heat have been 10.1 points per 100 possessions better with him off the floor (plus-5.0) than they’ve been with him on the floor (minus-5.1) this season.

The Heat are 8-6 against the opposite conference, and they’ll play their next seven games against the West. They’ll have a rest advantage against the Lakers on Wednesday, but their longest road trip of the season (five games over eight days) begins with a high-altitude back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.

Week 11: vs. MIN, vs. LAL, @ DEN, @ UTA

Last Week:24

Record: 14-19

OffRtg: 110.4 (24) DefRtg: 111.9 (10) NetRtg: -1.5 (23) Pace: 102.6 (3)

The Thunder faced double-digit deficits in all three of their games last week, and all three went down to the wire, with the highlight being Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s buzzer and Blazer-beating game-winner on Monday. Each of their last eight games have been within five points in the last five minutes, giving them a league-high 23 clutch games for the season. With that, Gilgeous-Alexander is the league’s leading clutch scorer with 90 total points scored with the game within five in the last five, even though the OKC offense has been much less efficient in the clutch (99.5 points scored per 100 possessions, 25th) than it was last season (108.0, 17th). Clutch defense was more of an issue on Friday, when New Orleans scored 15 points on a stretch of six overtime possessions after the Thunder came back from 21 points down (with Gilgeous-Alexander scoring a career-high 44 points).

Overall, the Thunder defense has been good, climbing into the top 10 by allowing just 109.0 points per 100 possessions over the first six games of their seven-game homestand. With minimal heft up front, rebounding has been an issue. But the Thunder have seen the league’s biggest jump in opponent turnover rate, from 13.2 per 100 possessions (22nd) last season to 16.3 (third) this season. And their second win over Portland last week came with 20 turnovers from the Blazers. Gilgeous-Alexander ranks eighth with 3.5 deflections per game

The Thunder’s homestand concludes with their second meeting with the Spurs. They’ll then play 10 of their next 11 games against the opposite conference, currently 6-7 against the East.

Week 11: vs. SAS, @ CHA, vs. PHI

Last Week:23

Record: 13-21

OffRtg: 111.0 (23) DefRtg: 113.7 (22) NetRtg: -2.8 (26) Pace: 98.8 (21)

The Magic’s most recent starting lineup (the Bol Bol Wagner Wagner lineup) hasn’t been very good, outscored by 6.4 points per 100 possessions, the second-worst mark among 21 lineups that have played at least 150 minutes. But Jamahl Mosley stuck with it on Friday against San Antonio, despite the return of Wendell Carter Jr. from a 17-game absence. And the lineup did OK, outscoring the Spurs by six points in a little more than 14 minutes. But it was a mostly-bench unit, led by Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba, that put the game away with a 16-1 run early in the fourth quarter. Anthony, who ranks third (behind two former MVPs) in defensive rebounding percentage among players 6-3 and shorter, was an assist away from his first career triple-double.

Anthony and Bamba have combined for an effective field goal percentage of 62.2% (with Anthony also 23-for-24 from the line) as the Magic have won eight of their last nine games. The Magic have had the league’s top-ranked bench over that stretch, outscoring their opponents by 17.5 points per 100 possessions (scoring 124 per 100) in 163 minutes with Anthony and Bamba on the floor together. Their only loss in the last 20 days came (in the second game of a back-to-back) when Paolo Banchero fouled Dejounte Murray with 1.3 seconds left on Monday.

The 8-1 run has the Magic within 2 1/2 games of the Play-In Club, and they’ve got four games left on a stretch of six straight against teams with losing records. That includes their first of four meetings (Friday in Orlando) with one of the teams (Washington) between the Magic and 10th place.

Week 11: vs. LAL, @ DET, vs. WAS

Last Week:25

Record: 14-18

OffRtg: 111.4 (21) DefRtg: 112.7 (17) NetRtg: -1.3 (21) Pace: 100.7 (12)

A week ago, the Bulls were dealing with locker-room issues in the wake of the worst defensive performance for any team this season. Now, they’ve won three straight games for the first time, seeing some improvement to the mean in regard to close-game results. They’ve gone from 3-11 to 5-11 (still the league’s worst record) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, with Ayo Dosunmu getting the put-back buzzer-beater in Atlanta and DeMar DeRozan draining the game-winner in New York. With that shot and the airball that preceded Dosunmu’s put-back, DeRozan is 6-for-14 on shots to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime. That’s two more makes (four players have four) and six more attempts (seven players have eight) than any other player in the league.

More important is that the Bulls had a couple of solid defensive games, holding both the Heat and Hawks under 110 points per 100 possessions, in the wake of the disaster in Minnesota. Alas, most of that good defense (56 points allowed on 68 possessions) came with Alex Caruso on the floor. But after menacing the Hawks for 11 minutes on Wednesday, he was lost to a shoulder injury. The Bulls have outscored their opponents by 2.5 points per 100 possessions in 261 minutes with Caruso on the floor with DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, but have been outscored by 8.5 per 100 in 364 minutes with the other three on the floor without the former NBA champion.

The Bulls don’t have any homestands longer than four games this season, and their first of two four-game homestands is this week. They’re currently 2-4 against the eight teams that have worse records than they do, set to face both the Rockets and Pistons for the first time.

Week 11: vs. HOU, vs. MIL, vs. DET, vs. CLE

Last Week:18

Record: 13-20

OffRtg: 111.6 (20) DefRtg: 113.6 (20) NetRtg: -2.0 (24) Pace: 102.8 (2)

After winning their first game after Anthony Davis’ foot injury, the Lakers have dropped four straight. Not too surprisingly (and with three of the five opponents having top-10 offenses), the five games have been the Lakers’ worst five-game stretch of defense this season (125.8 points allowed per 100 possessions). They’ve now allowed more than 120 per 100 in 160 total minutes with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on the floor without Davis.

And of course, without Davis, there’s little to turn to when James goes to the bench. James is actually a plus-2 over his 139 minutes over the last five games, but the Lakers have been outscored by 53 points (23.5 per 100 possessions) in his 101 minutes off the floor. Of course, he was on the floor for the Hornets’ 21-5 run to start the third quarter on Friday. The Lakers came back, but Dennis Schroder missed a wide-open corner 3 for the win, perhaps distracted by James losing his shoe.

A Christmas-Day loss in Dallas is a disappointment, but a home loss to the Hornets is a problem. And if the Lakers really do want to compete for a playoff spot this season, then desperation must be setting in at this point.

There are more opportunities to pick up wins (and face bottom-10 offenses) on the horizon. Their loss in Dallas on Sunday was the one exception in a stretch where the Lakers are playing seven of eight games against the worst division in the league (the Southeast). But they’ll have a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back in Florida, with their visit to Miami being their third rest-disadvantage game of the season. With James resting for both of the other two (both in the last three weeks), they lost each by double-digits.

Week 11: @ ORL, @ MIA, @ ATL

Last Week:26

Record: 13-21

OffRtg: 111.1 (22) DefRtg: 113.7 (21) NetRtg: -2.6 (25) Pace: 99.4 (18)

Having lost 10 straight games entering last week, the Wizards were looking at a rough second half to their six-game road trip: games in Phoenix, Utah and Sacramento. But they went 2-1 over those three games, outscoring their opponents by 34 points (105-71) over the three second quarters and getting a couple of big performances (29 and 32 points on 57% shooting) from Kyle Kuzma in the two wins. With Kuzma registering the highest usage rate of his career (26.7%), the Wiz are 8-3 when he’s made more than half his shots.

The Wiz got both Rui Hachimura and Delon Wright back from long absences last week, and the latter can hopefully help keep the offense afloat when Monte Morris goes to the bench. Through Week 10, the Wiz have scored 118.0 points per 100 possessions (a great number) with Morris on the floor, but just 102.1 per 100 with him off the floor.

Will Barton should be able to help in that regard, but he’s having his worst shooting season (effective field goal percentage of just 46.0%) in the last eight years and he was out with a back issue at the end of the trip. With Deni Avdija also unavailable, Wes Unseld Jr. had the opportunity to move Kuzma to the three and start Daniel Gafford alongside Kristaps Porzingis (returning from a two-game absence himself) in Sacramento on Friday. The two bigs played just 11 minutes together and totaled just 13 points (with Porzingis shooting 2-for-11), but there still hasn’t been anything to discourage further usage of the double-big look (now a plus-36.3 points per 100 possessions in 60 total minutes).

The Wiz have just two home games (a back-to-back) before heading out for another trip (four games, including two in Milwaukee). They didn’t use the double-big look in their first two games against Joel Embiid and the Sixers, who are in D.C. on Tuesday.

Week 11: vs. PHI, vs. PHX, @ ORL, @ MIL

Last Week:30

Record: 9-24

OffRtg: 108.0 (30) DefRtg: 114.9 (27) NetRtg: -6.9 (28) Pace: 101.0 (10)

The one thing the Hornets have done consistently well is maximize their shooting opportunities (field goal attempts or trips to the line) by ranking seventh in both turnover rate (13.7 per 100 possessions) and offensive rebounding percentage (30.3%). They haven’t been so good on the glass on the other end of the floor, but they still rank third (behind the Raptors and Suns) in shooting opportunity differential, having averaged 3.3 more opportunities per game than their opponents.

As their second eight-game losing streak came to an end in Sacramento on Monday, the Hornets had 24 second-chance points, their second-highest total of the season. Nick Richards directly created nine of those 24, with two tip dunks, a put-back, and an assist on a big, fourth-quarter 3-point from Kelly Oubre Jr. The Hornets had just 14 second-chance points in L.A. on Friday, but eight of those, including Gordon Hayward’s game-winning put-back, came in the fourth quarter.

With Terry Rozier having missed the previous two games, the win over the Lakers was just the third time this season that Hayward (14-for-21 shooting over the two wins), Rozier and LaMelo Ball (triple-double in a loss to the Clippers on Wednesday) have been available. The Hornets’ preferred starting lineup (those three plus P.J. Washington and Mason Plumlee) has played a total of 19 minutes, and key reserve Cody Martin has played 56 seconds all season.

The Hornets’ six-game road trip concludes with a Monday-Tuesday back-to-back in Portland and San Francisco. The home team has won the last six games between the Hornets and Warriors, with Charlotte having won in overtime in October.

Week 11: @ POR, @ GSW, vs. OKC, vs. BKN

Last Week:28

Record: 10-22

OffRtg: 108.9 (28) DefRtg: 118.3 (30) NetRtg: -9.4 (30) Pace: 101.3 (8)

Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan certainly had an interesting week. He was taken out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, the same day he started shooting free throws with one hand in a win in Houston. He was back in the starting lineup on Thursday, when he had his best game of the season, registering 23 points (shooting 7-for-10 from the line), nine rebounds and six assists in a loss in New Orleans. And he had another solid night (13 points, nine boards and four assists) in a loss in Orlando on Friday.

Sochan’s jumper is shaky; his 11-for-56 (19.6%) from 3-point range is the worst mark among 246 players with at least 50 attempts. But he moves well without the ball and seems to have good touch around the rim, shooting 67.1% in the restricted area, fourth best among nine rookies (better than Paolo Banchero or Shaedon Sharpe) with at least 75 attempts. None of those six assists on Thursday were serious dimes, but he was handling the ball in transition quite a bit. Sochan is also fourth (among 22 rookies who’ve played at least 250 minutes) in deflections per 36 minutes, and has been given some tough assignments defensively. The three guys he’s guarded most this season are LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns and Damian Lillard.

At the start of this season, many of us thought the Spurs and Jazz were on the same tier, and they’ll meet for the first time in San Antonio on Monday. The Spurs will then travel to Oklahoma City, where they blew a 20-point, second-half lead (without Sochan or Jakob Poeltl) in late November.

Week 11: vs. UTA, @ OKC, vs. NYK, vs. DAL

Last Week:27

Record: 9-23

OffRtg: 108.9 (27) DefRtg: 115.0 (28) NetRtg: -6.1 (27) Pace: 99.7 (17)

The Rockets’ seven-game homestand began with wins over the Bucks and Suns … and it ended with a five-game losing streak that included losses to the Spurs and Magic. The Rockets led both games at the half, but scored just 89 points on 99 second-half possessions to fall to 1-3 in games played between the bottom six teams in the league. They have five more wins (they’re 7-15) against the 17 teams currently over .500 than they do (they’re 2-8) against the other 12 teams that are currently below .500.

Eric Gordon (who missed the Rockets’ loss to the Mavs on Friday) seemingly remains a player who should receive trade interest from contenders, but he’s been struggling of late, shooting just 14-for-45 (31%) over his last five games. And the Rockets continue to stick with a starting lineup that has been outscored by 13.3 points per 100 possessions in its 327 minutes*, holding the worst marks for both offensive and defensive efficiency among the 21 lineups that have played at least 150 minutes this season. It also ranks last in assist percentage among those lineups, having recorded assists on just 47.6% of its buckets, and one might assume that Gordon would shoot better playing alongside better (or more willing) passers.

* Only three lineups in the last 10 years have finished a season with a worse point differential per 100 possessions in at least 300 minutes: two Lakers lineups in 2014-15 and ‘15-16 and the Knicks’ original starting lineup last season.

The Rockets visit the Bulls on Monday, but then they’ll play nine of their next 10 games against those teams currently over .500. They already have a win in Dallas, where they’ll be on Thursday.

Week 11: @ CHI, @ BOS, @ DAL, vs. NYK

Last Week:29

Record: 8-27

OffRtg: 110.0 (25) DefRtg: 117.7 (29) NetRtg: -7.7 (29) Pace: 100.0 (16)

The Pistons have made more than half of their first-half shots in six straight games, scoring 124.5 points per 100 first-half possessions over that stretch. All five of their starters have shot 50% or better in the first half over those six games, with Jaden Ivey (18 points on 6-for-7 in the first half against Utah on Tuesday) and Isaiah Stewart (two 3s in the first two minutes in Atlanta on Friday) combining to shoot 12-for-23 on first-half 3-pointers.

(You can probably see where this is going…)

Second halves have not been so good. The Pistons have scored less than a point per possession over their last six second halves, with Ivey, Killian Hayes and Bojan Bogdanovic combining to shoot 34-for-110 (31%) from the field. Their 29th-ranked defense has also been particularly bad (136.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) in the third quarter over that stretch, and their five-game losing streak has come with four third quarters in which they’ve been outscored by at least nine points. The Pistons are now 6-9 (the only team with a losing record) when leading at the half.

Ivey’s performance against Utah (he finished with a career-high 30 points on 10-for-14 shooting) was still encouraging. He continues to show flashes of being a clever playmaker, and he’ll face some pretty good competition at the two spot this week. Ivey’s highest-scoring performance in a win came against Orlando on opening night, and the Magic will be back in Detroit on Wednesday, when the Pistons will have a rest advantage.

Week 11: vs. LAC, vs. ORL, @ CHI, @ MIN