Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 20: Grizzlies enter Top 5 as season nears 4th quarter

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

Jae Crowder faced off against his former team on Sunday as the Bucks won their 14th straight game.

We’re just four days past the All-Star break, but also just two days from the 3/4 mark of the season, which will come Tuesday night.

Urgency is high across the league, especially in the Western Conference, where there are still just three games in the loss column separating the fourth-place Phoenix Suns (33-29) from the 13th-place Oklahoma City Thunder (28-32). Kawhi Leonard is finally playing heavy minutes, LeBron James is trying to fight through injury, and Kevin Durant is expected to make his Suns debut this week.

The Eastern Conference remains the stronger conference, with its power concentrated up top. But seeds are still very much up for grabs up and down the standings, and the streaking New York Knicks suddenly have a chance at home-court advantage in the first round.

On the first run-through, there were several candidates (Boston, Miami, New York, Minnesota and more) for this week’s “Team to Watch,” so it’s a big week across the league, one that could go a long way in determining where teams ultimately land in the standings.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Atlanta (2-0) — The new coach goes 2-0 (with both wins coming against teams ahead of his in the standings) and they immediately replace him!
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Miami (0-2) — The Heat didn’t get the memo about this being the most efficient offensive season in NBA history.

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 19

  • Toughest: 1. Detroit, 2. Charlotte, 3. Houston
  • Easiest: 1. Sacramento, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Minnesota
  • 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: Atlanta (+5), L.A. Lakers (+4), Utah (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Washington (-4), LA Clippers (-3), Oklahoma City (-3)

Week 20 Team to Watch

  • Golden State The Warriors have been without three starters, and it’s unclear if they’ll have Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins or Draymond Green at all this week. But no matter who they have, they’ve got to survive what may be the most critical stretch of their season. Their five-game homestand concludes with games against the 11th-place Blazers (who they lead by just a game and a half) on Tuesday, the Clippers on Thursday and the 10th-place Pelicans on Friday. Then they begin a three-game trip with a visit to the 12th-place Lakers on Sunday afternoon.

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 113.7 points scored per 100 possessions and 99.8 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:1

Record: 43-17

OffRtg: 112.8 (23) DefRtg: 109.3 (1) NetRtg: +3.5 (6) Pace: 100.9 (11)

It was a pleasant surprise to see Giannis Antetokounmpo (who sprained his wrist eight days earlier) in the Bucks’ starting lineup against the Heat on Friday. But the pleasantness didn’t last long, with Antetokounmpo suffering a quad contusion late in the first quarter. The Bucks still beat the Heat, holding them to just 99 points on 106 possessions. And they still beat the Suns on Sunday, with Jrue Holiday coming up clutch once again, draining another huge 3 (he’s 9-for-18 on clutch 3s this season) and then stripping Devin Booker with the Bucks up two in the final seconds. The Bucks have won 14 straight games and are a league-best 23-6 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes.

The Bucks have had the league’s fourth-ranked bench since Khris Middleton returned from his injury absence, outscoring their opponents by 18.5 points per 100 possessions in Middleton’s 235 minutes over that stretch. He cracked the 25-minute mark (for the first time since his return) on Sunday when the Bucks finished the Phoenix win with three reserves – Middleton, Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles – on the floor. Crowder hit two big 3s (both off feeds from Middleton), and Middleton also had a terrific dime to Brook Lopez on the game-winning bucket. He’s now seen a jump in assists per 36 minutes in each of his last five seasons, from 4.0 in 2017-18 to 6.9 this season.

The Bucks have three games left (all at home) within the top four in the East, and the first of those is Saturday night when the Sixers will be at Fiserv Forum. The Bucks and Sixers split their two meetings in Philly, with the two teams combining to score just 99 points per 100 possessions over the two games.

Week 20: @ BKN, vs. ORL, vs. PHI, @ WAS

Last Week:2

Record: 44-17

OffRtg: 117.2 (3) DefRtg: 111.0 (4) NetRtg: +6.2 (1) Pace: 99.4 (17)

The Celtics’ first two games after the All-Star break were just the second and third times that they started last season’s starting group, which has still played just 53 total minutes this season. The lineup (with Al Horford and Robert Williams III up front) was outscored in both games, allowing the Pacers and Sixers to score 69 points on 50 defensive possessions. But the Celtics won both games (by a total of seven points), with Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon combining for 64 total points off the bench and the Cs outscoring the opponents by 32 points (25.9 per 100 possessions) in 69 minutes with one or both of the reserve guards on the floor.

White was the one with the better numbers, but Brogdon was the one on the floor down the stretch, with the Celtics scoring 38 points on 27 clutch possessions. Jayson Tatum had 16 of those 38, including the go-ahead free throws in Indiana and the game-winner in Philly (off the same action that got him a game-tying dunk in Cleveland earlier this season). Though they have five losses in overtime, the Celtics are now 20-8 in clutch games overall, a stark contrast from their 30-48 record in the clutch over the last two seasons. Brogdon and White are a combined 11-for-16 on clutch 2-pointers, 9-for-18 on clutch 3s, and 17-for-18 on clutch free throws.

The win in Philly began a stretch of six straight games within the top six in the East, and the Celtics’ final four games against the Cavs and Knicks (probably their two most likely second-round opponents) are in the next eight days. They’re 1-3 against Cleveland and New York thus far, having scored just 108.6 points per 100 possessions in the three losses, which all came in overtime.

Week 20: @ NYK, vs. CLE, vs. BKN, vs. NYK

Last Week:3

Record: 43-19

OffRtg: 117.4 (2) DefRtg: 113.2 (13) NetRtg: +4.2 (3) Pace: 99.1 (19)

The Nuggets were without Aaron Gordon and they didn’t stagger the minutes of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in their first two games out of the All-Star break. With that, their new bench’s first game was kind of rough, with Reggie Jackson and Thomas Bryant combining to shoot 2-for-11 and Denver scoring just 18 points on 23 offensive possessions with Jokic off the floor in Cleveland on Thursday. But Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. were awesome as (what was) the league’s No. 1 offense scored efficiently (97 points on 71 possessions with the MVP on the floor) against (what was) the league’s No. 1 defense, and the Nuggets got a quality road win.

They (both the starters and the bench) came up empty in Memphis two nights later. But Gordon returned and Jokic and Porter were awesome again (69 total points on 26-for-39 shooting) as the Nuggets beat the Clippers in the second game of their weekend back-to-back. They did stagger minutes this time (Bryant played most of his 10:42 alongside Murray and the rest alongside Porter), and they were outscored by just one point in Jokic’s 11:27 on the bench. They blew a 15-point, second-half lead, but then scored the first nine points of overtime and improved to 19-9 (with the league’s best clutch defense) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes.

With the loss in Memphis, the Nuggets lead the Grizzlies by four games in the loss column. The third and final game of the season series (which will decide the tiebreaker) is Friday in Denver, where the Nuggets have now won 21 of their last 22. That will be their last game within the (current) top six in the West for four weeks (March 31).

Week 20: @ HOU, vs. MEM

Last Week:4

Record: 39-20

OffRtg: 115.5 (8) DefRtg: 111.6 (7) NetRtg: +3.9 (5) Pace: 98.0 (26)

The Sixers were down 11 with six minutes left (after trailing by as many as 17) against the Grizzlies. Two nights later, they were down 10 with six minutes left (after blowing a 15-point lead) against the Celtics. They erased both of those late deficits, shutting down the Grizzlies (3-14 shooting over those last six minutes) on Thursday and improving to 17-6 against the Western Conference. Joel Embiid scored 24 of his team’s 40 total points over the last six minutes of the two games, but his three-quarter-court heave on Saturday was a fraction of a second too late and the Sixers fell to 0-3 against Boston, having been outscored by 48 points from 3-point range over the two losses in February.

Tyrese Maxey remains a reserve, but the Sixers closed both games with him on the floor in place of De’Anthony Melton. The Maxey lineup just crossed the 200-minute threshold and has now outscored opponents by 19.5 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark among 28 lineups that have played at least 200 minutes. There’s going to be concern about defense with Maxey and James Harden on the floor together, but the 101.5 per 100 that the lineup has allowed is the best mark among that group. And since Maxey’s return from injury in late December, the lineup is a plus-70 (plus-38.2 per 100) in 86 minutes.

The Sixers have played 27 of the 29 other teams, with the exceptions being the Heat and the Mavs. Their first two meetings with Miami are a home-and-home set on Monday and Wednesday, with the second being the start of a stretch where they’re playing 12 of 15 games on the road. They’ll be at a rest disadvantage in Dallas on Thursday but have won their last three rest-disadvantage games (all on the road).

Week 20: vs. MIA, @ MIA, @ DAL, @ MIL

Last Week:6

Record: 36-23

OffRtg: 113.6 (16) DefRtg: 109.5 (2) NetRtg: +4.0 (4) Pace: 101.7 (6)

The Grizzlies were once 31-0 in games they led by double-digits. They’re now 36-5, with their worst collapse (they led by 17 and by 11 with six minutes left) coming in Philadelphia on Thursday. For the season, only the Spurs and Rockets have been worse than the Grizzlies (minus-6.8 points per 100 possessions) in the fourth quarter. There’s some garbage time mixed in there, but the Grizz have been worse in the fourth quarter with Ja Morant on the floor (minus-7.5 per 100) than they’ve been with him off the floor. Their fourth-quarter issues have mostly been about offense, and among 140 players with at least 100 fourth-quarter field goal attempts, Dillon Brooks (40.8%) and Morant (39.1%) rank 138th and 140th in fourth-quarter effective field goal percentage.

Losing the fourth quarter by 14 points on Saturday didn’t matter, because the Grizzlies led the Nuggets by 32 after the third. It was the eighth time this season that they’ve held their opponent under a point per possession, with all eight of those games having come at home, where the Grizz are now 25-5, what would be the best home record in franchise history.

The loss in Philly was the Grizzlies’ eighth straight on the road, a streak that began with a loss to the Lakers. They’ll host the Lakers on Tuesday, but will then begin a four-game trip the following night in Houston. The only team the Grizzlies haven’t faced this season is the Clippers, and the first of three meetings will be in L.A. on Sunday.

Week 20: vs. LAL, @ HOU, @ DEN, @ LAC

Last Week:5

Record: 39-25

OffRtg: 115.2 (9) DefRtg: 109.6 (3) NetRtg: +5.5 (2) Pace: 96.1 (30)

Evan Mobley had one of those games on Thursday. On one end of the floor, he scored 31 points on 12-for-19 shooting, doing it in the post, on the glass, on the drive, and with some touch. On the other end of the floor, Mobley was long and disruptive. He only blocked one shot but could have blocked it on either side of the rim. And one a big possession late in the fourth quarter, he met Nikola Jokic’s roll into the paint, leaped to contest his shot, and then adjusted in mid-air to deflect the MVP’s drop-off pass.

Alas, the Cavs lost to the Nuggets, scoring just four points on their last 10 possessions. And over a three-game losing streak (that begin with their last game before the break), what had been the league’s No. 1 defense allowed Philly, Denver and Atlanta to score 127.7 points per 100 possessions. The Cavs took care of business against Toronto on Sunday to end the streak, but since Christmas, they’re 5-9 (1-5 on the road) against the other 14 teams that currently have winning records, even though their offense has been solid (116.6 points scored per 100 possessions) over those 14 games.

The Cavs have two days off before playing in Boston on Wednesday. Their two early-season wins over the Celtics were different in regard to how efficiently the two teams scored, but they were the same in that they both came in overtime, with Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert (4-for-6 on clutch 3s) combining to score 36 of the team’s 47 clutch points in the two games.

Week 20: @ BOS, vs. DET

Last Week:8

Record: 35-27

OffRtg: 115.9 (6) DefRtg: 113.4 (14) NetRtg: +2.5 (8) Pace: 97.5 (27)

The Knicks picked up where they left off and are suddenly within two games in the loss column of the fourth-place Cavs. Their five-game winning streak coincides with their addition of Josh Hart and has been their best five-game stretch of offense (125.8 points scored per 100 possessions) this season. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson have combined to average 57.4 points on an effective field goal percentage of 57% over the five games, and Immanuel Quickley continues to play the best basketball of his career.

Randle tied his career high with 46 points in Washington on Friday and now has nine first-quarter 3s in his last three games. Brunson was just 1-for-9 from 3-point range in their first two post-break games, but had the game-winner after the Knicks came back from 19 points down against the Wizards. There are still only four teams – the Spurs, Suns, Rockets and Hawks – who have fewer wins in games they trailed by double-digits, but the Knicks have won three of the last four games they trailed by 10 points or more after going 3-21 in those games through Feb. 4.

Their game against the Nets on Wednesday (when New York will have a rest advantage) could be a chance to move into fifth place, but it’s one of four games against teams with winning records this week, the toughest stretch of the Knicks’ post-break schedule. The Knicks are 2-1 against the Celtics (1-1) and Heat (1-0), with Randle having averaged 33 points (with 25 of his 66 total having come in the first quarter) against Boston’s fourth-ranked defense.

Week 20: vs. BOS, vs. BKN, @ MIA, @ BOS

Last Week:10

Record: 35-25

OffRtg: 118.0 (1) DefRtg: 115.5 (25) NetRtg: +2.5 (7) Pace: 101.4 (10)

The Kings are 6-4 (tied for sixth best) in the second games of back-to-backs, and none of the other five wins were bigger (or more impressive) than their incredible, 176-175, double-overtime victory in L.A. (against the rested Clippers) on Friday. They came back from 14 points down with four minutes left in regulation and then erased six-point deficits in each of the two overtimes. It was their longest game of the season, but also their fourth-fastest (in regard to possessions per 48 minutes), so it was extra amazing that De’Aaron Fox (42 points and 12 assists) and Malik Monk (45 points) still had gas in the tank as the Kings ended the night on a 7-0 run (after coming back from an early deficit against Portland the night before).

The 176 points on 130 possessions against the Clips pushed the Kings back into the top spot in overall offensive efficiency. They also have the No. 1 clutch offense by a huge margin, having scored 12.6 more points per 100 possessions (131.2) than any other team with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or OT. Fox, of course, continues to lead the league in clutch scoring (157 total points) and his clutch field goal percentage (61-for-107, 57.0%) would be the best mark for a player with at least 100 field goal attempts (190 total instances) in the 27 seasons for which we have clutch data.

Overall, Fox has scored more than 30 points in seven straight games, in part because he’s seen a big jump in free throw rate (53.1 attempts per 100 shots from the field) from his prior 47 games (31.2 per 100). And the Kings’ offense has been so good that they’ve won six of their last eight even though they rank 27th defensively over that stretch.

The third-place Kings are now four games in the loss column ahead of the three contenders – the Suns, Clippers and Mavs – that made big moves at the deadline. They have five games remaining against that group, with the next one being another meeting with the Clips. This one will be in Sacramento on Friday when the Kings will be the team with the rest advantage.

Week 20: @ OKC, vs. LAC, vs. MIN

Last Week:9

Record: 33-29

OffRtg: 113.5 (17) DefRtg: 112.0 (8) NetRtg: +1.5 (9) Pace: 98.6 (22)

Devin Booker was 7-for-9 from mid-range in a win over the Thunder on Thursday, the Suns’ second best offensive performance (124 points on 100 possessions) in more than two months. But Phoenix ranks just 18th offensively (113.5 points scored per 100 possessions) over the seven games since Booker returned from a six-week absence, with Booker, Chris Paul and Damion Lee (who still ranks in the top five in 3-point percentage) having combined to shoot 18-for-79 (23%) from 3-point range in that stretch. The Suns led by seven with less than six minutes to go in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, but then scored just seven points on their final 11 possessions, turning the ball over four times. With the loss, the Suns have as many regular season losses (they’re 11-14) against the Eastern Conference as they had in the last two seasons combined (46-14).

So it’s a good time for the Suns to replace Josh Okogie in the starting lineup with Kevin Durant, the guy with the highest true shooting percentage in NBA history for a player averaging at least 28 points per game (67.3%). The Suns have been outscored by 6.3 points per 100 possessions in 191 total minutes with their other four presumed starters – Paul, Booker, Torrey Craig and DeAndre Ayton – on the floor together and the hope is that Durant, after another practice, will make his Suns debut in Charlotte on Wednesday.

Of course, the marquee matchup will be Sunday in Dallas, exactly four years, to the day, since the last time Durant and Kyrie Irving faced each other as opponents (March 5, 2019). The fourth-place Suns currently lead the sixth-place Mavs by just a game in the loss column, and Dallas has won two of the three meetings.

Week 20: @ CHA, @ CHI, @ DAL

Last Week:7

Record: 33-30

OffRtg: 113.3 (19) DefRtg: 113.2 (12) NetRtg: +0.1 (18) Pace: 98.4 (24)

The good news is that Kawhi Leonard has played almost 85 total minutes over the Clippers’ first two games out of the break, with the 46:02 he played on Friday being the most he’s logged in 612 career regular season games. And he looked no worse for the wear, totaling 77 points on 68% shooting (including 21-for-30 from outside the paint) over the two games. The two-time Finals MVP has seemingly been built back better.

The bad news is that, despite Leonard’s heroics, the Clips went 0-2, allowing the Kings and Nuggets to score almost 130 points per 100 possessions and dropping out of the top 10 in defensive efficiency. They’ve been without Ivica Zubac and their opponents scored 150 points (on 67.6%) in the paint over the two games. That included three overtime periods, but the 62.5 points in the paint per 100 possessions that their opponents scored would still be the highest opponent mark for the full season.

Though Leonard played 85 minutes over the weekend, he still hasn’t played in both games of a back-to-back since April of 2021. The Clippers’ first of four post-break back-to-backs is two road games in Northern California on Thursday and Friday, and it will be interesting to see in which game Leonard plays (assuming that he doesn’t play in both). The Clips are now tied in the loss column with the seventh-place Warriors, who they’ll visit on Thursday (with another meeting in March). And they’re now five games in the loss column behind the third-place Kings, who they’ll visit on Friday (the final meeting of the season).

Week 20: vs. MIN, @ GSW, @ SAC, vs. MEM

Last Week:11

Record: 32-30

OffRtg: 115.8 (7) DefRtg: 115.1 (22) NetRtg: +0.7 (15) Pace: 96.6 (29)

The Mavs took care of business against the Spurs on Thursday, but they’ve dropped their last four games against teams that haven’t lost 16 straight. The toughest of those losses, of course, was Sunday, when they blew a 27-point lead against the Lakers, allowing a below-average offense to score 92 points on its final 66 possessions (139 per 100). The Mavs outscored L.A. by 42 points from 3-point range but were a minus-30 in the paint and a minus-11 at the free-throw line.

With that, the Mavs are 1-3 with both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the lineup. The three losses have come by a total of just 11 points, so they don’t have major issues. But, while Irving is 7-for-11 with the score within five in the last five with Dallas, late turnovers have been an issue and the Mavs have allowed the Kings, Wolves and Lakers to score 52 points on 37 clutch possessions (141 per 100) in those three losses.

The second half of the Mavs’ six-game homestand, with visits from Philly, Phoenix and Utah, will be much tougher than the first half. They have five remaining games within the top six in the West and the first of those is a game against the Suns – Durant vs. Irving – on Sunday afternoon. The Mavs won two of the first three meetings and their Dec. 5 win in Dallas was their second most efficient offensive performance of the season, but those results probably go out the window after the trade deadline shakeups.

Week 20: vs. IND, vs. PHI, vs. PHX

Last Week:17

Record: 31-30

OffRtg: 114.2 (11) DefRtg: 114.4 (21) NetRtg: -0.2 (20) Pace: 101.5 (8)

The Hawks went 2-0 in the Joe Prunty Era, one of their best two-game stretches of offense this season. Their 136 points on 103 possessions on Friday was the third most efficient game any team has had against the Cavs’ third-ranked defense, and they followed that up with an important win over a team – Brooklyn – they have a chance of catching in the Eastern Conference standings. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray totaled 121 points and 29 assists over the two games, with Murray shooting 17-for-27 (63%) inside the arc and Young going 23-for-24 at the free throw line.

The Hawks blew an 18-point lead against the Nets and Bogdan Bogdanovic astoundingly left Cam Johnson open for the game-tying 3 to help inside the arc, but Young saved the day with the buzzer-beating game-winner. Young (7-for-15) is now tied with DeMar DeRozan (7-for-18) for the most field goals to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime this season.

The Hawks took 33% of their shots from 3-point range in the Prunty Era, up from 27% over their last four games under Nate McMillan. Expect that rate to go higher under new head coach Quin Snyder, with Snyder’s Jazz having led the league in 3-point rate (48% over the two years) in each of the last two seasons.

With games on Tuesday and Friday, there’s an opportunity for some practice time under the new coach. The eighth-place Hawks have an opportunity to move up, but also some risk in sliding down the standings because they play the seventh-place Heat twice and the 10th-place Wizards three times in the next 12 days.

Week 20: vs. WAS, vs. POR, @ MIA

Last Week:15

Record: 31-30

OffRtg: 114.0 (12) DefRtg: 113.8 (18) NetRtg: +0.2 (17) Pace: 102.9 (1)

We’re not yet in March, but the Warriors are already in “survive and advance” mode. They’ve been without Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins for their first three games out of the All-Star break, and they were also without Draymond Green in their two games over the weekend, leaving just one full-time starter in uniform. But that one full-time starter was Klay Thompson, who totaled 74 points (shooting 18-for-31 from 3-point range) as the champs won both weekend games. Thursday and Friday was just the second time that Thompson played in both games of a back-to-back, and the second game of the back-to-back was the second time this month (and the third time in his career) that he made 12 3s.

As hot as Thompson was, the Warriors’ offense wasn’t super efficient. But they allowed the Rockets and Wolves to score just 103.0 points per 100 possessions, with the two teams shooting just 45-for-93 (48.4%) in the paint. Kevon Looney came off the bench against the Lakers on Thursday but replaced Green in the starting lineup over the weekend and the Warriors allowed less than a point per possession with him on the floor over the three games.

Jonathan Kuminga started instead of Looney against the Lakers, perhaps to provide more spacing and shooting on offense. But LeBron James didn’t bother guarding Kuminga on the perimeter, and the 20-year-old shot 1-for-5 (with some ugly misses) from 3-point range. Curry is obviously the Warriors’ most important player, but Wiggins is also really important on both ends of the floor as that 3/4 who allows the champs to play big (with Looney) or small (with Jordan Poole). And Wiggins has now missed 24 games, having missed 10 total over the last two seasons.

At 31-30, the Warriors are a game in the loss column ahead of the 12th-place Blazers (28-31) and a game in the loss column behind the fifth-place Clippers (33-29). They’ll play them both as their critical, five-game homestand concludes this week.

Week 20: vs. POR, vs. LAC, vs. NOP, @ LAL

Last Week:12

Record: 34-26

OffRtg: 115.0 (10) DefRtg: 113.9 (20) NetRtg: +1.1 (11) Pace: 98.8 (21)

The post-deadline Nets seemingly have a bunch of very good defenders. But in their five games with their new group, they’ve allowed 125.3 points per 100 possessions, their second-worst mark for any five-game stretch this season. They’ve lost four of the five, getting absolutely clobbered in Chicago on Friday and then losing at the buzzer in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. A slide into the Play-In group is looking more realistic, with the Nets now just four games in the loss column ahead of the eighth-place Hawks, who they will face one more time.

The Nets have actually rebounded a little better over these five games than they did previously. But they haven’t protected the paint as well, their opponents have shot better than 40% from 3-point range, they rank 26th in opponent rate, and they’re dead last in opponent free throw rate (33.7 attempts per 100 shots from the field) over these last 16 days. Amazingly, their starting lineup (which has struggled offensively) has allowed just 95.6 points per 100 possessions in its 71 minutes, but the Nets have allowed an amazing 137.3 per 100 in 169 total minutes with at least one reserve on the floor over the five games.

The Nets are playing nine of their first 11 post-break games on the road, and one of the two home games is against the Bucks (who’ve won six straight road games). Their game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday is one of the biggest games left on their schedule, and the Knicks (who beat the Nets by 18 points two weeks ago) will have a rest advantage.

Week 20: vs. MIL, @ NYK, @ BOS, vs. CHA

Last Week:13

Record: 32-29

OffRtg: 110.6 (26) DefRtg: 111.2 (5) NetRtg: -0.7 (24) Pace: 97.1 (28)

Update: The Heat still can’t shoot. Their two games last week – losses in Milwaukee and Charlotte – were two of their 10 least effective shooting games of the season, they’ve now shot worse than the league average (36.0%) from 3-point range in eight straight games, and Tyler Herro (38%) is the only guy who’s shot better than 31% on more than seven 3-point attempts over that stretch. Kevin Love joined the team last week and shot 3-for-13 from beyond the arc over his two games.

Reminder: This team led the league in 3-point percentage last season. Among 102 players with at least 200 3-point attempts in each of the last two seasons, Max Strus (from 41.0% to 33.5%), Gabe Vincent (from 36.8% to 32.1%) and Kyle Lowry (from 37.7% to 33.3%) have seen the biggest, 10th biggest and 16th biggest drop-offs in 3-point percentage*. And the only team in the last 10 years that’s seen a bigger season-to-season drop-off in 3-point percentage than these Heat (-4.8%) is the team – the 2019-20 Warriors (-5.1%) – that lost Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and (for all but five games) Stephen Curry.

* Love has taken most of his 3s with the Cavs, but has seen the 15th biggest drop-off (from 39.2% to 34.6%) among those 102 players.

League-wide efficiency is way up, but the Heat have now scored less than a point per possession more times this season (10) than they did all of last season (9). And with four straight losses, the Heat are now just a game ahead of the eighth-place Hawks, who will be in Miami for a two-game series that begins Saturday. The two teams split the two meetings in Atlanta, with the Heat shooting 17-for-64 (27%) from 3-point range. With the Hawks now over .500, the Heat’s home-and-home set with the Sixers begins a stretch of seven straight games against teams that currently have winning records.

Week 20: @ PHI, vs. PHI, vs. NYK, vs. ATL

Last Week:14

Record: 31-32

OffRtg: 112.9 (21) DefRtg: 112.9 (11) NetRtg: +0.0 (19) Pace: 101.9 (5)

The Wolves’ game log remains fascinating. In the last three weeks, they’ve had two of their four most efficient offensive games of the season, important road wins in Utah and Dallas. But in their other five games over that stretch (including losses at home to the Wizards and Hornets), they’ve scored a meager 104.0 points per 100 possessions, with 18 different players contributing to that struggle. Their first two games out of the All-Star break gave them more games of scoring less than 110 points per 100 possession (30) than they had all of last season (29), and the two games came with the Wolves shooting a brutal 21-for-37 (57%) from the free throw line.

They had a great chance to pick up another big road win at Golden State on Sunday, leading by 12 early in the fourth quarter. But the Wolves scored 14 points on their final 22 possessions of the game, with Naz Reid (who had 29 points through the first three quarters) shooting 0-for-6. It was their third loss (tying them with the Suns and Mavs for the league lead) in a game they led by double-digits in the fourth quarter. More important is that, right now, it’s the difference between seventh and ninth place in the West. (The Wolves will visit the Warriors again in about four weeks.)

The Wolves’ California trip continues this week and concludes with a back-to-back against the Lakers (with whom they’re tied in the loss column) and the Kings. The Wolves are 6-4 (4-0 since Jan. 1) in the second games of back-to-backs, with one of those recent wins having come (with a big game from Edwards) against Sacramento.

Week 20: @ LAC, @ LAL, @ SAC

Last Week:16

Record: 30-31

OffRtg: 113.4 (18) DefRtg: 112.4 (9) NetRtg: +0.9 (12) Pace: 100.1 (15)

With no Zion Williamson, the current version of the Pelicans is (basically) the same as the one that made a push in the second half of last season, earned the 8 seed with two Play-In wins, and then put a scare in the top-seeded Suns. But since Brandon Ingram returned from a two-month absence, the Pels are just 4-9 with bottom-10 marks on both ends of the floor. Ingram was 5-for-7 from 3-point range in Toronto on Thursday but shot 13-for-36 (36%) inside the arc as the Pels scored a paltry 104.3 points per 100 possessions in dropping their first two games out of the break.

Trey Murphy III (who’s missed 12 of his last 13 3-point attempts) was surprisingly replaced by Josh Richardson in the starting lineup for the first two games out of the break. The new starting lineup was OK in Toronto but got blasted in New York on Saturday when the Pels suffered their fifth wire-to-wire loss of the season. They’ve lost the first quarter by double-digits in three of their last five games.

The biggest stretch of the Pels’ season is probably the next 16 days when five of their eight games will be within the 7-13 range in the Western Conference. The first two of those five will be on the road (where the Pels have now lost eight of nine), but they’ll have rest advantages against both the Blazers and Warriors (who play each other on Tuesday) this week.

Week 20: vs. ORL, @ POR, @ GSW

Last Week:21

Record: 31-31

OffRtg: 116.5 (5) DefRtg: 115.7 (26) NetRtg: +0.8 (13) Pace: 100.4 (13)

This is your weekly reminder that the Jazz are still competitive. They’re 4-3 since trading three of their top six guys just before the deadline, coming out of the break with an important win (in regard to the Play-In) over the Thunder in which Lauri Markkanen capped a 43-point performance with the game-winning free throws. The Jazz have been outscored in this 4-3 stretch, but have scored 60 points on 42 clutch possessions (143 per 100) in winning three of the five games that have been within five points in the last five minutes.

Markkanen (28.7 points per game) leads seven Jazz players who’ve averaged double-figures over the seven post-trade games (though only three of those guys have played in all seven). That group includes Kris Dunn, who (after signing a 10-day contract and with Collin Sexton out) scored 26 points in just 40 minutes last week. The Jazz remain in the top five in offensive efficiency, in part because they’ve been dominant on the offensive glass. They’ve grabbed 35.4% of available offensive boards, a rate that leads the league, over these seven post-trade games, with the biggest of their second chances being Walker Kessler’s tip-in to tie the OKC game. The Jazz have grabbed 35.6% of available offensive boards and outscored their opponents by 4.0 points per 100 possessions in 266 total minutes with Markkanen, Kessler and Kelly Olynyk on the floor together.

The Jazz haven’t been a great comeback team this season (8-27 in games they trailed by double-digits), but they came back from 14 down to beat the Spurs on Saturday. A second straight game against the team that’s now lost 16 straight is a great opportunity for the Jazz to get back over .500. After that, they’ll have their longest road trip of the season (six games over 11 days), which begins with two more big games against the Thunder.

Week 20: vs. SAS, @ OKC, @ OKC

Last Week:23

Record: 29-32

OffRtg: 113.1 (20) DefRtg: 113.7 (16) NetRtg: -0.6 (23) Pace: 102.4 (2)

The Lakers came out of the break in 13th place and they’ve already climbed two spots in the standings. They’re 3-0 since LeBron James returned from injury to join his new teammates, though neither James nor the new guys have been the biggest key to the winning streak. Anthony Davis scored just 12 points (taking only five shots in his 26 minutes) against the Warriors on Thursday, but he was huge against both the Pelicans (before the break) and Mavs (on Sunday), totaling 58 points, 25 rebounds, nine assists and five blocks over the two games. Nineteen of his 30 in Dallas came in the second half as the Lakers won a game in which they trailed by 27 points and made 14 fewer 3-pointers than their opponent.

Those were the biggest deficit faced and (tied for) the second biggest 3-point discrepancy for a winning team this season. And with that win, the Lakers, who came back from 25 down to win in Portland on Jan. 22, became the third team in the 27 seasons for which we have play-by-play data – joining the 2018-19 Clippers (2) and last season’s Clippers (3) – to win multiple games it trailed by 25 points or more.

The other end of the floor has probably been more important than the offensive numbers. The winning streak has been the Lakers’ best three-game stretch of defense (104.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) since a stretch (in which two of the three games were against the Spurs) that spanned Thanksgiving. They’ve allowed just 97.0 per 100 in Davis’ 92 minutes on the floor and 113.0 per 100 in his 52 minutes on the bench. It’s also helped that two of the new guys – Malik Beasley (3.9) and Jarred Vanderbilt (3.5) – lead the team in deflections per 36 minutes.

The next seven days, with three more games against teams in the 7-13 range in the West, are probably the most important stretch of the season for the Lakers. They go into that stretch playing some of their best basketball of the season, but also with concerns about James’ right foot, which he injured in the third quarter on Sunday.

Week 20: @ MEM, @ OKC, vs. MIN, vs. GSW

Last Week:22

Record: 30-32

OffRtg: 114.0 (14) DefRtg: 113.5 (15) NetRtg: +0.5 (16) Pace: 98.2 (25)

The Raptors lost their first opportunity to get back to .500 since they were 13-13 in early December, scoring just 93 points on 97 possessions in Cleveland on Sunday. While there was a whole lotta offense going on around the league last week, the Raps were one of two teams – the Heat were the other – that scored less than a point per possession in multiple games over the last four days. Fred VanVleet (personal) missed all three of their games, and Raptors not named Siakam or Poeltl had an effective field goal percentage of just 41.6% over the three.

But the Raps won two of the three games, with their defense doing most of the work against New Orleans and Detroit. Those wins capped a 7-1 stretch in which they ranked fourth defensively, allowing just 108.3 points per 100 possessions and climbed into the Play-In Club. The context is that five of those eight games (including four against the Rockets, Spurs and Pistons) came against teams that rank in the bottom six on offense.

Toronto still has nine games remaining against bottom-10 offensive teams, and the first of those is against the 11th-place Bulls on Tuesday, when the head-to-head tiebreaker will be on the line. The Raptors have two five-game road trips left on their schedule, and the first begins with a pretty big two-game series in Washington on Thursday and Saturday. The Raps have won 13 of their last 15 games (going back to the 2018 playoffs) against the Wiz, but these will be their first two meetings in more than 13 months.

Week 20: vs. CHI, @ WAS, @ WAS

Last Week:18

Record: 28-32

OffRtg: 114.0 (13) DefRtg: 112.9 (10) NetRtg: +1.1 (10) Pace: 102.1 (3)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed the game-winner at the buzzer in Utah on Thursday, and then he missed the next two games with ankle soreness. And with that, the Thunder have slid from 10th to 13th place in the West. They had actually won their previous three games without their All-Star, and the Thunder offense was solid without him in the two weekend games, shooting 31-for-78 (39.7%) from 3-point range and turning the ball over just 23 times total. Isaiah Joe totaled 52 points over the two games, even taking some shots inside the arc. In fact, he had as many 2-point baskets in the last two games (7-for-8 from 2, 10-for-20 from 3) as he had in his previous 16 (7-for-16 from 2, 48-for-99 from 3).

But the losses to the Suns and Kings were the second time this season that the Thunder’s top-10 defense allowed two straight opponents to score more than 120 points per 100 possessions. And if that has the whiff of something familiar, it’s because last season, the Thunder ranked eighth defensively before the All-Star break and 28th after it. Two seasons ago, they ranked 10th defensively before the break and 29th after it.

Time will tell if there’s a similarly dramatic drop-off this season. Only six of the 16 games in which they’ve allowed 118 or more points per 100 possessions have come at home, and the loss to the Kings on Sunday was the start of a six-game homestand. But the Thunder do have another three games against top-five offenses (those of the Kings and Jazz) this week.

Week 20: vs. SAC, vs. LAL, vs. UTA, vs. UTA

Last Week:20

Record: 29-31

OffRtg: 116.5 (4) DefRtg: 116.7 (27) NetRtg: -0.2 (21) Pace: 98.5 (23)

Donovan Mitchell’s 71 points in January came against a better defensive team and in higher-leverage possessions. But Damian Lillard’s 71 points on Sunday came in almost 11 fewer minutes of playing time. Lillard is one of six players who’ve made 12 3-pointers in a game and now he’s one of three – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are the others – who’ve done it multiple times. But in the 10 seasons of tracking data, he’s the only guy who’s made more than 10 pull-up 3s in a game, with his 11 (on 20 attempts) on Sunday matching his the 11 pull-up 3s he made in a double-overtime playoff loss two years ago. (James Harden is the only other player who’s made 10 pull-up 3s in a game, according to Second Spectrum tracking.)

Lillard also scored 16 points in the paint and another 14 at the free-throw line on Sunday. It was noted in this space a few weeks ago that the greatness of the season he’s having is about how he can shoot from deep, but also blow by defenders who try to take away his pull-up. He’s now at 15.8 drives per game, the most he’s averaged in those 10 seasons of tracking data. His field goal percentage in the paint (60.6%) and his free throw rate (44.7 attempts per 100 shots from the field) are both the best marks of his career by wide margins. Lillard’s true shooting percentage of 65.4% would be the third-highest mark in NBA history for a player averaging at least 30 points per game (83 instances), topped only by two Curry seasons (2015-16 and 2020-21).

Alas, with a historic season from their star, the Blazers are still two games under .500 and in 12th place in the Western Conference. They have seven games remaining against the four teams currently in Play-In position, with two of those (at Golden State, vs. New Orleans) being their Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back, the start of their second (and final) stretch of five games in seven days. Their third (and final) six-game trip of the season begins in Atlanta on Friday.

Week 20: @ GSW, vs. NOP, @ ATL, @ ORL

Last Week:19

Record: 28-32

OffRtg: 113.7 (15) DefRtg: 113.9 (19) NetRtg: -0.2 (22) Pace: 99.1 (20)

The Wizards’ last five games before the All-Star break were their best five-game stretch of offense this season. And they were still on fire when they came out of the break, scoring 57 points on their first 38 possessions and building a 19-point lead against the Knicks on Friday. But over their next 78 minutes of basketball, the Wiz scored less than 91 points per 100 possessions, blowing that 19-point lead to New York and then getting blown out in the second half in Chicago on Sunday.

Bradley Beal, who had four 30-point games over the last two weeks before the break, was relatively quiet, totaling 34 points on 13-for-31 shooting over the two losses. Kristaps Porzingis missed the Chicago game with knee soreness and Kyle Kuzma has had a rough February, missing four games and shooting just 35% in the six he’s played. The Wizards’ preferred starting lineup has been good (plus-11.7 points per 100 possessions), but has still played just 157 total minutes over 16 games.

The 10th-place Wizards now lead the 11th-place Bulls by just a half-game, having split the season series and scored just 101.3 points per 100 possessions over the four games. (Only the Hornets have been less efficient against Chicago.) The Wiz still have seven games against the eighth-place Hawks and ninth-place Raptors left on their schedule, with three of those seven coming this week. Their second game against the Raptors (Saturday) is the start of the league’s only stretch of four games in five nights, which was created by a game in Detroit that was postponed earlier this month.

Week 20: @ ATL, vs. TOR, vs. TOR, vs. MIL

Last Week:25

Record: 27-35

OffRtg: 112.9 (22) DefRtg: 115.5 (24) NetRtg: -2.6 (25) Pace: 101.4 (9)

Tyrese Haliburton is only 22 years old (he turns 23 this week) and was the Pacers’ All-Star, but the bigger development in Indiana has been the play of Myles Turner. The 26-year-old big man (he turns 27 in a few weeks) was inviting a trade just four months ago, but now he’s got a contract extension and is having a breakout season. His 18.1 points per game are the most in his career by a wide margin, and they’ve come with career-high marks in effective field goal percentage (61.6%), true shooting percentage (65.5%), free throw rate (37.3 attempts per 100 shots from the field) and rebounding percentage (13.2%).

Turner has benefited from playing alongside Haliburton (they didn’t play together at all last season) and from playing bigger. Prior to this season, he’d never taken half of his shots in the paint, even though (like most players) he was a much more effective shooter in the paint (61.3% through his first seven seasons) than he was outside it (effective field goal percentage 47.3%). But this season, with no other bigs on the floor, Turner has taken 59% of his shots in the paint and the Haliburton/Turner pick-and-roll ranks among the best high-usage combinations in regard to points-per-chance efficiency.

Of course, when Turner tied his career high (40 points) in the Pacers’ overtime loss to Boston on Thursday, he was 8-for-10 from 3-point range. But when he followed that up with 24 in a win in Orlando (the Pacers’ first road win in more than two months), 16 of those 24 (including two off a ridiculous pick-and-roll dime from Haliburton) came in the paint.

That win kept the Pacers in 12th place and in contention for a Play-In spot. They have the most games remaining against the bottom four teams in the league, and the first of their six is Thursday in San Antonio. The Spurs’ only wire-to-wire victory of the season was in Indiana in Week 1.

Week 20: @ DAL, @ SAS, @ CHI

Last Week:26

Record: 28-33

OffRtg: 112.1 (24) DefRtg: 111.3 (6) NetRtg: +0.8 (14) Pace: 100.1 (14)

The Bulls went into the All-Star break with a six-game losing streak in which they scored an anemic 99.5 points per 100 possessions. And they’ve come out of the break with two of their four biggest wins of the season, scoring 125.9 points per 100 possessions against the Nets and Wizards. They made just 20 3-pointers over the two games, but they kept their turnovers low and DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine combined to shoot 35-for-53 (66%) from inside the arc.

And the 20 3s were six more than their opponents made, with Brooklyn and Washington having their worst and second-worst offensive games of the season, respectively. With their new starting lineup – with Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso – having allowed just 60 points on 77 defensive possessions (78 per 100) over the weekend, the Bulls have climbed from 12th to sixth in defensive efficiency over the last three weeks. They now rank as the league’s most improved defensive team (overtaking the Bucks in that regard), having allowed 1.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season.

With their season series against the Wizards in the books, the 11th-place Bulls have just two games remaining against the three teams – Atlanta, Toronto and Washington – ahead of them in the East standings. And the first of those two is Tuesday in Toronto, a game that will determine the head-to-head tiebreaker, with the home team having won each of the first two meetings.

Week 20: @ TOR, @ DET, vs. PHX, vs. IND

Last Week:24

Record: 25-36

OffRtg: 111.2 (25) DefRtg: 113.8 (17) NetRtg: -2.6 (26) Pace: 99.3 (18)

The Magic have an opportunity to move up the standings, playing five of their first six post-break games against teams with losing records and with the one exception (in Milwaukee on Wednesday) being a rest-advantage game. And you can certainly argue that no group needed the break more than one led by a rookie who was shooting 1-for-27 from 3-point range in February.

But the Magic have come out of the break scoring just 107.5 points per 100 possessions against two bottom-10 defenses, needing Wendell Carter Jr.’s buzzer-beating tip-in to beat the Pistons and losing to the Pacers with 12th place in the East on the line. Banchero is 0-for-3 from 3-point range, but he’s not alone with his perimeter struggles, and what had been a pretty strong bench over the last few weeks had two minus games against two bottom-10 second units. The Magic were outscored by 21 points in Cole Anthony’s 35 minutes on the floor over the two games, though the game-deciding run against Indiana was the start of the third quarter.

The Magic’s three-game trip begins with games against two top-10 defenses, though they did score efficiently (behind 30 points from Franz Wagner) in their first meeting (in January) with the ninth-ranked Pelicans. They’re currently 12-10 (4-5 on the road) against the Western Conference, with their last winning record in interconference games having come in the 2010-11 season. Six of their remaining eight games against the West are on the road.

Week 20: @ NOP, @ MIL, @ CHA, vs. POR

Last Week:27

Record: 19-43

OffRtg: 109.2 (29) DefRtg: 115.2 (23) NetRtg: -5.9 (27) Pace: 102.0 (4)

Three teams get the best odds (14%) to land the No. 1 pick in the Draft, and it’s looking more and more like the Hornets won’t be one of those three teams. That shouldn’t be a big surprise; they were 43-39 (with a top-10 offense) last season and have the best group of veterans among the bottom four teams in the league. But now, the Hornets are really starting to look like the most competent of the four. They’ve won four straight games, coming out of the break with just their sixth and seventh wins against the 15 teams that went into the break with winning records.

LaMelo Ball has led the way, averaging 27.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 11.5 assists over the four games. But Gordon Hayward has been ridiculously efficient, averaging 22.5 points on an effective field goal percentage of 70.7% over the winning streak. Mark Williams had a big game (18 and 20) on Saturday and the defensive numbers have been improved, with the Hornets’ win over Miami being just the third time this season that they’ve held their opponent under a point per possession.

One thing that could drop the Hornets back into the bottom-three conversation is two more losses to the Pistons, who’ve shot well in beating the Hornets twice this season. The third meeting is the second game of the Hornets’ four-game homestand, which also includes what could be a fun matchup with the 13th-place Magic.

Week 20: vs. DET, vs. PHX, vs. ORL, @ BKN

Last Week:28

Record: 15-46

OffRtg: 110.4 (27) DefRtg: 117.6 (28) NetRtg: -7.2 (28) Pace: 100.5 (12)

The Pistons generally play big, with Isaiah Stewart at the four and, now, three guys – Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman – who need playing time at the five. But prior to the All-Star break, the Pistons had been outscored by 8.0 points per game, the league’s worst discrepancy, in the restricted area. And in their first game after the break, the restricted-area score was Magic 40, Pistons 16, with the final two of Orlando’s 40 restricted-area points coming on Wendell Carter Jr.’s game-winning tip-in at the buzzer. It was the 11th time this season that the opponent had at least 10 more restricted area buckets than Detroit.

The discrepancy is about both ends of the floor. In road games*, the Pistons rank 26th in the percentage of their own shots that have come in the restricted area (26.4%) and have the second-highest opponent rate (33.8%). They were actually a plus-2 in the restricted area against Toronto on Saturday afternoon, but somehow turned 17 offensive rebounds into only eight second-chance points and were outscored by 13 points at the free-throw line.

* Looking at only road games to minimize the effect of shot-location discrepancies from arena to arena.

Bagley returned from a 20-game absence and had season highs for points (21) and rebounds (18) on Saturday when Duren was out with an ankle injury. So Pistons coach Dwane Casey hasn’t yet had to split playing time between all three young centers. Bagley (who’s played 20 total minutes alongside Duren) may have to play minutes at the four, which should be interesting in regard to both offensive spacing and defensive mobility.

The Pistons have three games remaining within the bottom four in the league, two against the Hornets and one against the Rockets. The first of those three games is Monday in Charlotte, with the Pistons having won the first two meetings (two of their best 3-point shooting games of the season) between the 14th and 15th-place teams in the East.

Week 20: @ CHA, vs. CHI, @ CLE

Last Week:29

Record: 13-47

OffRtg: 109.2 (30) DefRtg: 118.1 (29) NetRtg: -8.9 (29) Pace: 100.0 (16)

The Spurs have lost 16 straight games … and still don’t have the league’s worst record. That distinction still belongs to the Rockets, who’ve lost nine straight themselves. They’ve allowed an amazing 127.5 points per 100 possessions (worst in the league by a healthy margin) over the nine games, with Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard combining to score 113 points (with 25 3-pointers) against them over the weekend. The Rockets lost the two games by a total of 32 points, even though they were a plus-64 (124-60) in the paint.

But hey, the Rockets were a plus-65 in the paint over two games, and a differential like that is about both ends of the floor. Most important is that they allowed just 40 transition points over the two games (after allowing 71 over their last two games before the break), according to Synergy tracking. On the other end, Kenyon Martin Jr. led the way, and the highlight wasn’t a dunk, but rather a circus shot that he made while falling to the floor. And the Rockets killed the Blazers on the glass on Sunday, turning 18 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.

At least one of these losing streaks is going to end this week because the final two meetings between the bottom two teams in the West are a home-and-home back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. The Spurs won the first two meetings (both in December), winning the two third quarters by a total score of 71-37.

Week 20: vs. DEN, vs. MEM, @ SAS, vs. SAS

Last Week:30

Record: 14-47

OffRtg: 109.6 (28) DefRtg: 120.1 (30) NetRtg: -10.5 (30) Pace: 101.7 (7)

It’s been 41 days since the Spurs last scored more points than their opponent, and their losing streak has hit 16 games. Their loss in Dallas on Thursday was the fourth time they’ve allowed at least 140 points per 100 possessions, and their loss in Utah on Saturday was the 13th time they’ve scored less than a point per possession. They actually led the Utah game by 14 points (their fourth double-digit lead during the streak), but they were outscored by 28 points (shooting 1-for-16 from 3-point range) over the last 21 1/2 minutes and it was the 12th of the 16 losses that have been by double-digits.

Rookies Malaki Branham (23 points in Dallas) and Jeremy Sochan (22 in Utah) continue to be bright spots, but Tre Jones has missed eight of the last nine games. The rodeo trip (nine straight road games spanning All-Star weekend) comes to an end in Utah on Tuesday, and there’s hope that Devin Vassell (who’s missed the last 24 games) will return against Indiana on Thursday.

The Spurs do have a win over the Pacers this season, though that came in Week 1. No matter who’s in the lineup, their best chances to pick up a win or two will be a home-and-home set against the Rockets this weekend, their last two games within the bottom four in the league. Their two December wins over Houston were two of the 12 times this season that the Spurs have scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions.

Week 20: @ UTA, vs. IND, vs. HOU, @ HOU