Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 13: Thunder hold No. 1 spot as season nears halfway point

Oklahoma City stays at the top and Miami enters the Top 10 as the regular season reaches the midway point this week.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has OKC nipping at Minnesota’s heels for No. 1 in the West as Week 13 begins.

The 2023-24 season hits the halfway mark this week. When two of Friday’s eight games are complete, we’ll be at 615/1,230, 50% of our way to the playoffs.

When we hit the halfway point last season, the Brooklyn Nets were in second place in the Eastern Conference and still had Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on their roster. In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers were in 12th place and still had Russell Westbrook.

A lot can change in the next few weeks and months. The trade deadline is 24 days away.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Utah (4-0) — What’s going on in Utah?
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Portland (0-4) — See the Scoot Henderson number above. That’s his second straight appearance in that space.

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East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 12

  • Toughest: 1. Golden State, 2. Minnesota, 3. San Antonio
  • Easiest: 1. Phoenix, 2. Milwaukee, 3. Philadelphia
  • Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

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Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Utah (+3), Miami (+2), San Antonio (+2), Washington (+2)
  • Free falls of the week: Five teams (-2)

* * *

Week 13 Team to Watch

  • Denver We don’t know yet if Joel Embiid will be in uniform for the Nuggets’ visit to Philadelphia on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT), but if he is, we’ll have a head-to-head matchup between the two guys who’ve finished first and second in MVP voting in each of the last three seasons. And on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), the champs will be in Boston to face the team with the league’s best record.

* * *


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 115.1 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:1

Record: 27-11

OffRtg: 120.2 (4) DefRtg: 111.0 (3) NetRtg: +9.2 (2) Pace: 101.4 (6)

The Thunder followed their win over the Celtics with a couple of brutal starts against two below-.500 teams. But they’ve since won four straight and are just a half-game behind the Wolves for first place in the Western Conference.

Three takeaways

  • The Thunder have the league’s top-ranked bench, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still has a pretty big on-off differential, with the team having been 12.9 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor. They were 0-5 when their star registered a negative plus-minus … until Wednesday in Miami, where they took control with a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter with Gilgeous-Alexander off the floor.
  • They shot just 8-for-36 (22%) from beyond the arc on Saturday, but still outscored the Magic (24-21) from deep and still rank second in 3-point percentage (39.2%). One reason is that 69% of their 3-point attempts, the league’s highest rate by a wide margin, have been wide open, according to Second Spectrum tracking.
  • On the same night that the Celtics got clobbered in a rest-disadvantage game in Milwaukee, the Thunder had a rest disadvantage and did the clobberin’, beating the Blazers by 62 points. That’s a big difference in the quality of the opposition, but OKC is now 4-1 (shooting a ridiculous 48% from 3-point range) in the second games of back-to-backs, with all those being rest-disadvantage games.

After two games at home, the Thunder are back on the road for seven of their next eight games. They’re currently 7-5 against the other eight West teams that currently have winning records (a group that now includes Utah), set to face the Clippers (1-0), Jazz (1-0) and Wolves (1-1) on a four-game trip this week.

Week 13: @ LAL, @ LAC, @ UTA, @ MIN

Last Week:2

Record: 30-9

OffRtg: 120.8 (3) DefRtg: 111.1 (4) NetRtg: +9.8 (1) Pace: 99.2 (18)

The Celtics have the league’s second-biggest home-road differential regarding winning percentage and its fifth-biggest regarding point differential per 100 possessions (plus-15.6 vs. plus-4.3). That’s mostly because they remain perfect (19-0) at home, but they’ve also lost three of their last four games on the road.

Three takeaways

  • The Celtics were previously 5-1, having outscored their opponents by 13.5 points per 100 possessions, in the second game of back-to-backs. But they were in a 37-point hole and threw in the towel at halftime (resting their starters for the last 24 minutes) in Milwaukee on Thursday. That was the end of their second of three stretches of five games in seven days, though the end of their first one was a 25-point win in Sacramento.
  • Earlier in the season, the difference between the Celtics’ wins and losses was on offense, but they’ve allowed more than 131 points per 100 possessions over their three losses in January, and their opponents have made at least 18 3s (on 40% or better shooting from beyond the arc) in each of their last five defeats. The Celtics have the league’s sixth-highest opponent 3-point rate (41.3% of their opponents’ shots have come from beyond the arc), having seen the third biggest jump from last season (37.4%, 10th lowest).
  • The Rockets only attempted 30 3-pointers (30% of their 99 field goal attempts) on Saturday and made only seven of those 30. The Celtics made 24 of their 47, making that the biggest 3-point differential in a game this season. There have been 10 games where a team has made at least 14 more 3s than its opponent and the Celtics (three), Pacers (two) and Bucks (three) account for eight of those 10 instances.

The Celtics’ next stretch of five games in seven days isn’t until March, but they’ve got another marquee matchup this week, hosting the champs on Friday. The Celtics had won six straight against the Nuggets before losing in Denver last January.

Week 13: @ TOR, vs. SAS, vs. DEN, @ HOU

Last Week:3

Record: 28-13

OffRtg: 118.6 (7) DefRtg: 113.0 (9) NetRtg: +5.5 (5) Pace: 98.1 (28)

The Nuggets hit the halfway mark of their season with the same record (28-13) as they had after 41 games last season. They’re in third place instead of tied for first but are 1.5 points per 100 possessions better than they were at that point last year (plus-4.0) and rank ninth instead of 19th defensively.

Three takeaways

  • Nikola Jokic continues to shoot the bleep out the ball, going 8-for-9 in the Nuggets’ loss in Utah on Wednesday and 12-for-13 in their weekend win over the Pacers. Amazingly, his season-long true shooting percentage (65.3%) is still well below his mark from last season (70.1%), which was the best mark in NBA history for a player who averaged at least 20 points per game.
  • Jokic’s true shooting percentage since Christmas is 85.3%, the best mark among 213 players with at least 50 post-Christmas field goal attempts by a wide margin. Fifth on that list is Aaron Gordon, who’s made more than half of his shots in eight straight games.
  • Gordon remains a shaky shooter from the perimeter, but the percentage of his shots that have come in the paint has seen a big jump in every season since he was traded to Denver, from 50% in 2020-21 (the season he was dealt) to 76% this season.

The Nuggets got the Pacers without Tyrese Haliburton on Sunday, but that was the start of a stretch where they’re playing eight of nine games against teams that currently rank in the top 10 offensively. They’ll have a rest advantage (and it’s unknown if they’ll see Joel Embiid in uniform) when they begin a five-game trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Week 13: @ PHI, @ BOS, @ WAS

Last Week:4

Record: 28-11

OffRtg: 114.0 (20) DefRtg: 108.4 (1) NetRtg: +5.6 (4) Pace: 98.6 (23)

The Wolves blew a great opportunity (up seven with a little more than two minutes left) to become the first team to beat the Celtics at home, and they were 2-4 in 2024 after losing that game in overtime. But they’ve since won two straight, getting a big win over the Clippers on Sunday.

Three takeaways

  • The Wolves got two blowout wins (one on the road against a good team) last week in which Anthony Edwards scored fewer than 10 points. That speaks to their defense, which held the opponents — Orlando and Portland — to just 37-for-84 (44%) shooting in the paint over the two games. Their season-long opponent field goal percentage in the paint (52.9%) would be the lowest mark in the last four seasons.
  • That mark is just 49.5% with Rudy Gobert on the floor. This is the No. 1 defense in the league by a healthy margin and it’s allowed 6.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with Gobert on the floor (104.3 per 100) than it has with him off the floor (111.2 per 100), even though, as a starter, he’s generally on the floor against the opponents’ best players.
  • Edwards wasn’t going to stay quiet for long, and he had 33 points on 10-for-16 from the field and 11-for-12 from the line against the Clippers on Sunday. That included a deft, pull-up bank shot against Kawhi Leonard, who was guarding him for most of the second half. Edwards’ 37.8% on pull-up 2-pointers isn’t great (it ranks 57th among 68 players with at least 75 attempts), but he’s seen improvement in that mark each season he’s been in the league.

The Wolves will play five of their next seven games against teams that rank in the bottom six offensively, but they’ll also have two games in the next 15 days against the fourth-ranked Thunder. The home team has won the first two meetings between the top two teams in the West, with the difference between the two games being on Oklahoma City’s end of the floor. In fact, the Wolves scored exactly 106 points on 100 possessions in both games.

Week 13: @ DET, vs. MEM, vs. OKC

Last Week:5

Record: 25-14

OffRtg: 119.0 (6) DefRtg: 113.7 (13) NetRtg: +5.3 (6) Pace: 98.2 (26)

The Clippers have gone from 12th place (when they lost their first five games with James Harden) to fourth, but they’re just 1-4 against the three teams ahead of them after losing in Minnesota on Sunday.

Three takeaways

  • Ivica Zubac was a late scratch on Sunday, and Daniel Theis and Mason Plumlee combined to play a little more than 37 minutes. So the Clippers played more than 10 minutes (against one of the biggest teams in the league) with no center. Their lineup of four future Hall-of-Famers and Norman Powell was a plus-8 in the fourth quarter, but that wasn’t enough to climb out of a 17-point hole.
  • Overall, the Clips drew even in those no-center minutes on Sunday. For the season, they’ve outscored their opponents by six points (with efficient offense on both ends of the floor) in 44 total minutes with Harden, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the floor with no center (and some combination of Powell, Russell Westbrook, Terance Mann and Amir Coffey).
  • As star-laden as the Clippers’ roster is, the role players will still need to make shots. While Mann is a terrific defender, he hasn’t been a great shooter and has been more likely to run himself off the 3-point line than take a minimally-contested shot. It would be great, though, if he could just hit some corner 3s, and he’s done that of late, going 9-for-13 from the corners over his last seven games, having gone 8-for-44 (18%) on corner 3s in his 26 games before that.

The Clippers are playing just two games over the next eight days, though one of those — Tuesday against the Thunder — is a big one. It will be the fifth game in seven days for Oklahoma City and the Clippers are 5-1 in rest-advantage games thus far, though the first meeting (Dec. 21) was a 19-point win for the Thunder and the end to the Clips’ nine-game winning streak.

Week 13: vs. OKC, vs. BKN

Last Week:6

Record: 24-16

OffRtg: 116.9 (12) DefRtg: 111.9 (6) NetRtg: +5.0 (7) Pace: 99.5 (17)

The Pelicans continue to pick up quality wins, and they’re 3-1 on a five-game trip that concludes with a second straight game in Dallas on Monday They’ve won seven of their last nine overall and eight of their last nine on the road, with the one loss having come in Denver on Friday night.

Three takeaways

  • The Pelicans (previously 1-3 in rest-disadvantage games) had to play in Dallas less than 24 hours after losing in Denver. Not surprisingly, they rested four of their top six guys, with Herb Jones and Jonas Valanciunas (who’s played in 202 of 213 games in three seasons with New Orleans) the only starters in uniform. They still beat the Mavs (who were without Luka Doncic, but rested), outscoring them by 19 points in the paint (plus-10) or at the free-throw line (plus-9). Rookie Jordan Hawkins, who had played two minutes the night before, led the way with 34 points.
  • With that win on Saturday, the Pels are 5-3 (with four straight wins) in games that Zion Williamson has missed. For the season, they’ve been a little better both offensively and defensively with him off the floor (plus 6.3 per 100 possessions) than they’ve been with him on the floor (plus 3.4). But a Williamson-plus-bench unit had some great minutes in their 36-point win at Golden State earlier in the week.
  • Half of the Pelicans’ 40 games have come against the other eight Western Conference teams that currently have winning records. They’re 12-8 in those games, with at least one win against each of the seven others that they’ve played. Overall, they have the third-best record (15-8, only the Celtics and Wolves have been better) in games played between the 17 teams currently over .500.

The only top-nine team in the West that the Pels haven’t faced is the Suns, who will be in New Orleans on Friday. That’s Game 2 of a four-game homestand that also includes visits from the Jazz and Thunder. After that, they’ll have played 24 of 45 against the (current) top nine in the West.

Week 13: @ DAL, vs. CHA, vs. PHX

Last Week:8

Record: 28-12

OffRtg: 121.1 (2) DefRtg: 116.3 (19) NetRtg: +4.8 (8) Pace: 102.4 (4)

The Bucks got their signature win, crushing the Celtics (who had played an overtime game the night before) on Thursday. And Damian Lillard got his signature moment, beating the Kings with a 32-footer at the buzzer on Sunday (when the Bucks were the team playing the second game of a back-to-back).

Three takeaways

  • Their loss to the Jazz on Monday felt like an old Mike Budenholzer game, where the Bucks lost because the opponent made 20 3-pointers (11 in the first quarter). They saw a huge drop in opponent 3-point rate in Budenholzer’s last season as coach and now have the league’s fourth-lowest opponent rate (36.8%) for the second straight season. It’s in the paint where they’ve seen a big drop-off.
  • One issue with the Bucks’ defensive numbers is out of their control. Their opponents have shot 82.2% from the free throw line, which would be the highest opponent mark in (at least) the last 54 seasons. But it was missed free throws (two from Malik Monk and one from De’Aaron Fox) that set up Lillard’s game-winner on Sunday.
  • A lot can be said about the Malik-Beasley-as-defensive-stopper experiment, but Beasley is certainly doing his job on the other end of the floor. He leads the league in 3-point percentage at 48.1% and has now made 12 more corner 3s (53-for-95, 55.8%) than any other player and nine more than he made all of last season (44-for-124, 35.5%).

For the next 12 days, the Bucks will only be playing the Cavs (x 3) and Pistons (x 2). They’re 3-0 against those teams thus far, with the opponents having shot 19-for-100 (that’s 19% for the non-math majors out there) over the three games.

Week 13: @ CLE, @ DET

Last Week:7

Record: 24-13

OffRtg: 119.1 (5) DefRtg: 110.8 (2) NetRtg: +8.3 (3) Pace: 100.0 (12)

The Sixers are just 3-7 without Joel Embiid, who’s missed seven of the last nine games. But all three of those wins have come against good or decent teams, and they blew out the Kings on Friday.

Three takeaways

  • Tobias Harris averaged 18.1 points over his first seven games without Embiid, but scored 32 in the Sixers’ overtime loss in Atlanta on Wednesday and then had a season-high 37 in the win over Sacramento. Harris’ effective field goal percentage (55.9%) is down from last season, but his free throw rate is way up (he was 13-for-13 from the line last week) and his true shooting percentage is a career-best 60.4%.
  • One thing the Sixers have done better without Embiid is force turnovers. Paul Reed has been the replacement starter and his 4.2 deflections per 36 minutes rank fifth among 258 players who’ve played at least 500 minutes total, with De’Anthony Melton (4.0) right behind him. It certainly helped that the Kings shot 8-for-38 (21%) from 3-point range on Friday, but they also shot poorly (21-for-45) in the paint and committed 17 turnovers, with 11 of them live balls. It was the eighth time the league’s second-ranked defense has held its opponent under a point per possession.

Stopping the Nuggets’ offense on Tuesday will be a tougher challenge, especially if Embiid is not available. He’s listed as questionable for the Sixers’ game against the Rockets on Monday afternoon.

Week 13: vs. HOU, vs. DEN, @ ORL, @ CHA

Last Week:9

Record: 23-16

OffRtg: 122.0 (1) DefRtg: 119.3 (26) NetRtg: +2.8 (10) Pace: 103.4 (2)

Tyrese Haliburton suffered a left hamstring strain against the Celtics on Monday, but the Pacers won that game and the two (without their star) that followed it. The winning streak came to an end in Denver on Sunday afternoon, but they’ve still won nine of their last 11 games.

Three takeaways

  • The Pacers account for six of the 10 times a team has registered an effective field goal percentage higher than 72% this season. Three of those six great shooting games have come against the Hawks, whom the Pacers will play one more time (on the last day of the season). They attempted only 18 3-pointers in Atlanta on Friday but made 11 of them and scored 76 points in the paint.
  • Rick Carlisle is still doing his thing, using three different starting lineups in the three games without Haliburton. Jalen Smith has started the last 10 games he’s played in but has played just 25 fourth-quarter minutes (10th on the team) over that stretch and logged just 156 total minutes alongside Myles Turner this season.
  • The Pacers still rank in the bottom five defensively, but are 13th since Christmas, having held their opponent under 110 points per 100 possessions as many times (five) in 11 games since the holiday as they did in 28 games prior.

The Pacers are one of five winless teams (they’re 0-3) in rest-disadvantage games, having scored just 112.8 points per 100 possessions over the three losses. They’ll have two more rest-disadvantage games this week, with the first (in Utah on Monday) against the hottest team in the league.

Week 13: @ UTA, @ SAC, @ POR, @ PHX

Last Week:12

Record: 23-16

OffRtg: 114.6 (17) DefRtg: 113.1 (10) NetRtg: +1.5 (13) Pace: 98.1 (29)

Jimmy Butler has missed the Heat’s last seven (and 12 of the last 13) games, but they keep finding ways to win. They’re 9-6 without their star, having picked up an important (and narrow) win over the Magic on Friday.

Three takeaways

  • Bam Adebayo’s field goal percentage on shots from 6-18 feet (44.8%) is down from last season (47.2%), but he’s going to keep shooting those shots and he hit the game-winning bucket when Moe Wagner gave him space on Friday. After playing 54 clutch games (second most) last season, only 19 of the Heat’s 39 games have been within five points in the last five minutes.
  • The Heat started Tyler Herro and Jaime Jaquez Jr. at point guard in two games last week, because the only two point guards on the roster are 37-year-old Kyle Lowry (who suffered a hand injury in Houston) and minimum-salaried Dru Smith, who tore his ACL in November. Lowry returned to the lineup on Sunday, but Jaquez was then lost to a groin injury.
  • Strangely, they weren’t there already, but the Heat climbed into the top 10 on defense by holding the Magic and Hornets to less than a point per possession over the weekend. The Southeast Division is the worst in the league by a wide margin (cumulative winning percentage of just .387) and the Heat are the only undefeated team (9-0) within its division.

They’ll have two more division games this week and while the Heat’s offense hasn’t been very potent of late, their win over the Hornets began a stretch of four straight games against teams that rank in the bottom 10 defensively.

Week 13: @ BKN, @ TOR, vs. ATL, @ ORL

Last Week:11

Record: 23-17

OffRtg: 117.5 (10) DefRtg: 116.1 (18) NetRtg: +1.4 (14) Pace: 100.8 (9)

The Mavs lost their first three games without Luka Doncic this season, but then won two straight, with the second of those Doncic-less wins being the Knicks’ first loss with OG Anunoby. But they blew a huge opportunity (regarding the standings) against a very shorthanded Pelicans team on Saturday, falling to 2-4 without their MVP candidate.

Three takeaways

  • The Mavs rank just 26th in offensive rebounding percentage (26.6%), but that’s an improvement from last season when they ranked last (22.6%). And they clinched the New York win with a Josh Green 3-pointer after they grabbed three offensive rebounds on the same possession. Tim Hardaway Jr. ranks 298th in offensive rebounding percentage among 317 players who’ve averaged at least 10 minutes per game and had 10 total offensive boards in 1,009 total minutes before Thursday, but had two of the three on that possession.
  • Though New Orleans was without Zion Williamson and three other guys in their top six, it outscored Dallas by 10 points in the paint and by another nine at the free-throw line. The Mavs rank last in the percentage of their shots (42%) that have come in the paint, with this being the eighth time in the last nine seasons that they’ve ranked in the bottom three. Only the Blazers (minus-12.6) and Warriors (minus-7.2) have been outscored by more points in the paint per game than the Mavs (minus-6.9).
  • The good news from the weekend is that Maxi Kleber returned from a 31-game absence. The Dallas defense has consistently been better with Kleber on the floor and the Pelicans scored just 19 points on 23 possessions in his 11 minutes on Saturday.

The Mavs are just 5-11 in games played between the nine West teams that currently have winning records. They’ll get another shot at the fifth-place Pelicans (whom they trail by a game) on Monday, with Doncic listed as doubtful and Dereck Lively II (who’s missed the last five games) listed as questionable.

Week 13: vs. NOP, @ LAL, @ GSW

Last Week:10

Record: 23-16

OffRtg: 117.6 (9) DefRtg: 113.4 (12) NetRtg: +4.2 (9) Pace: 98.4 (25)

The Knicks are no longer undefeated with OG Anunoby, having lost in Dallas on Thursday. But they still have the league’s No. 1 defense in 2024 and, with their win in Memphis over the weekend, have held their opponent under a point per possession in three of their seven games this month.

Three takeaways

  • Over the seven games, the Knicks have been 39.2 points per 100 possessions better with Anunoby on the floor (plus 27) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus 12.2). He shot just 1-for-6 from 3-point range in the Dallas game but registered a plus-14, and the Knicks were outscored by 18 points in a little more than nine minutes with him on the bench.
  • The Knicks are one of 11 teams that have allowed fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season (114.2, 19th), but they’ve seen a little slippage in transition. The Mavs had 42 transition points (one fewer than their season-high) on Thursday and the depleted Grizzlies were able to keep things competitive on Saturday because the Knicks (who were without Jalen Brunson) were both a little sloppy on offense (23 turnovers) and a little slow getting back.
  • The Knicks have had the league’s most road-heavy schedule to date, with 24 of their 39 games on the road. They’ll now play 12 of their next 14 at Madison Square Garden, where they’re 11-4.

That stretch begins with a big matchup against the Magic on Monday. The Knicks are just 2-3 (fewest games played) within the second tier (4-8) in the Eastern Conference, having lost in Orlando 16 days ago. That was their last game with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley.

Week 13: vs. ORL, vs. HOU, vs. WAS, vs. TOR

Last Week:13

Record: 23-16

OffRtg: 116.4 (14) DefRtg: 115.9 (17) NetRtg: +0.5 (17) Pace: 100.2 (11)

The Kings went 2-2 on the Eastern Conference portion of the five-game trip that ends in Phoenix on Tuesday, beating two of the bottom three teams in the East and losing to two of the top three.

Three takeaways

  • That certainly could have been 3-1, but the Kings left the door open for Dame Time by missing three free throws in the final 20 seconds of overtime on Sunday. Malik Monk was 22-for-23 (96%) on clutch free throws before missing a pair with the Kings up four. Sacramento still ranks second in clutch defense.
  • The Kings did come back from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime on Sunday. Five days earlier, they got their third win in a game they trailed by at least 20 points, coming back from 20 down in Detroit and going on huge runs to end both halves. In the 28 seasons for which we have play-by-play data, only two teams (including the 2019-20 Kings – 4) have had more than three wins in games they trailed by at least 20 points.
  • Monk is fifth on the Kings (who’ve been pretty healthy for a second straight season) in both total minutes and minutes per game. But the lineup with him in Kevin Huerter’s place has played just 89 total minutes, and it’s scored just 111.5 points per 100 possessions, well below the league average. Both Huerter and Monk (along with Trey Lyles) closed the game in Milwaukee, with two starters — Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray — on the bench.

The Kings were a league-best 8-2 in interconference games before their losses in Philadelphia and Milwaukee over the weekend. Their trip ends with a big game in Phoenix, but they’ll have two more games against Eastern Conference opponents when they get home.

Week 13: @ PHX, vs. IND

Last Week:14

Record: 21-18

OffRtg: 117.0 (11) DefRtg: 115.5 (16) NetRtg: +1.6 (12) Pace: 98.2 (27)

Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant have played in four straight games together, but while the numbers have been great with all three on the floor, quality wins remain hard to come by for the Suns.

Three takeaways

  • Before last week, the Suns were 1-6 against the seven Western Conference teams ahead of the standings, but they had all three of their stars for none of those seven games. Then they had all three against the Clippers last Monday … and lost by 27 (their worst margin of the season), allowing 138 points on just 98 defensive possessions. The Suns lost all four quarters, but the game didn’t really get away from them until they had a flurry of sloppiness early in the fourth.
  • The Suns’ starting lineup — with Grayson Allen and Jusuf Nurkic — has cracked the 100-minute mark and outscored their opponents by 21.9 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark among 49 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes. (The second best mark – plus-22.3 per 100 – belongs to the Suns lineup with Eric Gordon in Beal’s place.) The Suns have closed with the starters in their two clutch games over the last eight days.
  • Their win over the Lakers on Thursday was the only one of the Suns’ eight games with all three stars in which they outscored their opponent from 3-point range. L.A. ranks last in 3-point differential and the Suns (14-for-39) made one more 3 than the opponent (13-for-34) that night. The Suns’ 3-point rate (3PA/FGA) in their eight games with the three stars is just 34.8%.

Two more games within the West’s top eight are coming this week, with the Suns currently (0-2) against the sixth-place Kings, who will be in Phoenix on Tuesday. Three nights later, the Suns will be in New Orleans to face the fifth-place Pelicans for the first time.

Week 13: vs. SAC, @ NOP, vs. IND

Last Week:18

Record: 21-20

OffRtg: 114.4 (18) DefRtg: 116.7 (20) NetRtg: -2.3 (23) Pace: 100.7 (10)

About six weeks ago, the Jazz were 7-16, in 12th place in the West and seven games behind the sixth-place Lakers. At the midway point of their season, they’re 21-20, in ninth place and a game and a half ahead of L.A., who they beat on Saturday to extend their current winning streak (which includes wins over the Sixers, Bucks and Nuggets) to five games.

Three takeaways

  • The Jazz are 16-0 (the league’s only unbeaten team) when leading at half and, before Saturday, had won the last three first halves by an average of 22 points. In five days, they were responsible for the largest deficit faced by the Bucks (33), the fourth largest deficit faced by the Nuggets (25) and the largest deficit faced by the Raptors (33) this season.
  • That 33-point lead over Milwaukee was cut to seven, but the Jazz began the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that included six points from Keyonte George, including a savvy and skillful play where he waited out a Bobby Portis blitz, then attacked and got an and-one. The rookie’s offense has been not-unexpectedly inconsistent, but he certainly plays and shoots with confidence.
  • The five-game winning streak has been the Jazz’s best five-game stretch of offense (127.8 points scored per 100 possessions) this season. Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson have all averaged more than 21 points over the streak, while John Collins has been notably efficient. His effective field goal percentage in January (69.1%) is up from 53.8% prior and ranks fourth among 85 players with at least 75 field goal attempts this month.

The second half of the Jazz’s six-game homestand is also the end of their second stretch of five games in seven days. They’ll have a rest advantage against the Pacers on Monday, but will be at a disadvantage against the Thunder three nights later.

Week 13: vs. IND, vs. GSW, vs. OKC, @ HOU

Last Week:16

Record: 22-15

OffRtg: 114.2 (19) DefRtg: 112.2 (8) NetRtg: +2.0 (11) Pace: 98.6 (24)

The Cavs have now played 12 games without both Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, and they’ve won nine of the 12. Their visit to Paris was a business trip, and they TCB’d the Nets.

Three takeaways

  • When the Cavs and Nets tipped off in Paris on Thursday, Donovan Mitchell clearly had the most energy of anybody on the floor. It showed on defense (where he had four steals) and it showed on offense (where he scored a season-high 44 points — with some wicked moves included within). Mitchell’s usage rate (43.4%) was his highest in 101 total games (over two seasons) with the Cavs.
  • Defense travels, the Cavs rank third in road defense (112.1 points allowed per 100 possessions), and they held the Nets to just 102 points on 100 possessions (in a “home” game) on Thursday. Overall, they’re still not where they were last season defensively, but they’ve ranked in the top 10 on both ends of the floor over this 9-3 stretch.
  • The Cavs continue to shoot 3s at a high rate. They’ve taken 46% of their shots from 3-point range over the last 16 games, up from 37% before that. The Paris game came with their highest rate (44/82, 54%) of the season, with Mitchell and Sam Merrill combining for 23 of the 44 attempts. Merrill has shot 41% and averaged 12.9 3-point attempts per 36 minutes, most among 331 players that have played at least 250 total minutes this season.

The Cavs return home for two games before embarking on a four-game trip, and they’ll play the Bucks three times in the next 12 days. They shot 6-for-43 (14%) from 3-point range in losing the first meeting less than three weeks ago.

Week 13: vs. CHI, vs. MIL, @ ATL

Last Week:15

Record: 21-18

OffRtg: 112.2 (24) DefRtg: 111.2 (5) NetRtg: +1.0 (16) Pace: 99.6 (15)

The Magic won their first two games without Franz Wagner, but have since lost three straight, slipping to the bottom of the second tier (4-8) in the Eastern Conference.

Three takeaways

  • With Wagner (and others) out, Paolo Banchero had the league’s third-highest usage rate (34.1%) last week, and his shooting suffered. He shot just 39% (including 2-for-15 from 3-point range) over the three games. Despite the high-usage struggles and though he’s seen drops in both free throw rate and free throw percentage, Banchero is still scoring more efficiently than he did last season.
  • He had two big buckets down the stretch in Miami on Friday, but Banchero also missed three shots to take the lead or tie, seemingly losing the ball when he had a point-blank follow attempt with 10 seconds left. Banchero is 6-for-13 on shots to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime this season, with those 13 attempts leading the league.

Each of these last three games without Wagner has come against teams — the Wolves, Heat and Thunder — that rank in the top 10 defensively. The Magic will now face the top-ranked defense in January, that of the Knicks. They’re currently 4-3 (2-2 on the road) in games played within that second tier of the East.

Week 13: @ NYK, @ ATL, vs. PHI, vs. MIA

Last Week:19

Record: 19-22

OffRtg: 112.5 (22) DefRtg: 114.7 (15) NetRtg: -2.2 (22) Pace: 96.7 (30)

The Bulls are 4-1 since Zach LaVine (and Nikola Vucevic) returned from an extended absence, though it’s worth noting that three of those four wins have come against the Hornets (x 2) and Spurs (without Victor Wembanyama).

Three takeaways

  • LaVine and Vucevic are back, but Coby White remains the star. He’s averaged a team-high 23.8 points on an effective field goal percentage of 66.9% over these last five games and his jump from 9.7 points per game last season to 18.5 is the second biggest (behind that of Cam Thomas) among 252 players who’ve played in at least 25 games in each of the last two seasons.
  • Their overtime win over the Rockets on Wednesday was the only time in their last 12 games that the Bulls (19-for-47 from beyond the arc) outscored their opponent from 3-point range. They made nearly as many 3-pointers (18-for-40) two nights later against the Warriors, but Golden State made 20 and had its most efficient offensive performance of the season.
  • Each of their last four opponents has attempted at least 42 3s, the Bulls continue to have the league’s highest opponent 3-point rate (44.8%), and they’ve been outscored by 6.8 points per game from beyond the arc. Only the Lakers (-10.3) have a worse discrepancy, and the Bulls have also been outscored at the free-throw line.

Their win in San Antonio on Saturday began a stretch (that takes them to the All-Star break) where the Bulls are playing 11 of 15 games on the road. But it’s a relatively easy schedule regarding the opponents and there’s an opportunity to climb back to .500 if they continue to play relatively well.

Week 13: @ CLE, @ TOR, vs. MEM

Last Week:17

Record: 19-19

OffRtg: 113.1 (21) DefRtg: 112.1 (7) NetRtg: +1.0 (15) Pace: 98.7 (22)

The Rockets are 1-3 on the six-game trip that concludes with a couple of tough games this week and, with the Jazz on a run, Houston has slipped into 10th place in the Western Conference.

Three takeaways

  • It’s not great that the Rockets trailed the Pistons by five with three minutes left on Friday, but they then went on a 10-0 run, going to the Fred VanVleet/Alperen Sengun pick-and-roll to get them three straight buckets. After VanVleet hit a pair of jumpers, Jalen Duren came out higher and VanVleet hit Sengun on the roll to put Houston up five. VanVleet’s 125 assists to Sengun are 18 more than any other player has to a single teammate and 55 more than any Rocket had to Sengun last season.
  • Sengun has set 744 ball screens for VanVleet, according to Second Spectrum tracking, 133 more than any other ball-screen combo in the league. The Rockets have scored 1.08 points per possession when the ball-screen action has led directly to a shot, trip to the line or turnover, a rate that ranks 15th among 35 combinations with at least 200 such actions.
  • The Detroit win was the Rockets’ first (they were previously 0-13) when being outscored from 3-point range, leaving the Pistons themselves (0-20) as the only team that hasn’t won a game in which it’s been outscored from deep. The following night in Boston, the Rockets had the biggest 3-point discrepancy (outscored 72-21) for any team this season.

The Rockets are just three wins from matching their total from last season (22-60) and have won their last three games when they’ve had a chance to climb above or fall below .500. But their road trip continues with a game in Philly on Monday afternoon and they lost to the Sixers (without Joel Embiid) at home less than three weeks ago.

Week 13: @ PHI, @ NYK, vs. UTA, vs. BOS

Last Week:20

Record: 19-21

OffRtg: 112.2 (23) DefRtg: 114.0 (14) NetRtg: -1.8 (21) Pace: 101.1 (8)

With the Jazz continuing to win, the Lakers have slipped out of Play-In position and into 11th place in the Western Conference. And it’s not clear that they have what it takes to get back above .500.

Three takeaways

  • The Lakers’ 23rd-ranked offense saw a little bit of an uptick last week, with Anthony Davis having a big game (41 points and six assists) in a win over Toronto and D’Angelo Russell going off (39 on 15-for-26 shooting) in Utah on Saturday. But the Lakers (playing without LeBron James) couldn’t hold onto a double-digit lead against the Jazz, in part because they allowed them to grab 13 offensive boards and register 20 second-chance points. The Lakers still rank third in defensive rebounding percentage, but their last two games have been the 10th and 11th times they’ve grabbed less than 70% of available defensive boards.
  • The Lakers remain in the bottom 10 in 3-point percentage, even though the three guys who’ve attempted the most 3s — Taurean Prince, D’Angelo Russell and James — have combined to shoot 39.2%. Everybody else has shot 32.4% on almost the same number of attempts (612) as the top three (609).
  • The team has shot better than 40% from deep over the last five games, but the volume remains low. They rank 29th in 3-point rate, having taken just 35.2% of their shots from beyond the arc. Their loss in Utah on Saturday (39-36) was just the sixth time (in 40 games) that the Lakers have outscored their opponent from 3-point range. Every other team has been a plus from beyond the arc at least 10 times, with the Bulls (10) being the only other team with a total under 12.

The Lakers will play their next six games in L.A., a stretch that begins with a visit from the second-place Thunder on Monday. They’ve won just two of their last eight games against the top 10 in the West, but one of those two wins was in Oklahoma City just before Christmas. James scored a season-high 40 points in that game but is listed as questionable for Monday.

Week 13: vs. OKC, vs. DAL, vs. BKN, vs. POR

Last Week:21

Record: 15-24

OffRtg: 115.5 (15) DefRtg: 116.9 (21) NetRtg: -1.4 (19) Pace: 99.5 (16)

The Raptors won three of their first four games with Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, but they went 0-3 on the second half of their six-game road trip, and the free-throw discrepancy wasn’t to blame for the last two of those losses.

Three takeaways

  • The Raptors allowed more than 125 points per 100 possessions in four of their first 34 games, and then four more times in their last five, easily their worst stretch of defense this season. And only one of the opponents (the Clippers) ranks in the top 10 defensively.
  • With Jakob Poeltl out the last three games, Thaddeus Young has been starting and Jontay Porter has been playing nearly as many minutes at the five. It’s fair to say the latter doesn’t provide a lot of resistance defensively, and the Raptors have allowed 139.3 points per 100 possessions in his 92 minutes on the floor this season.
  • The good news is that the first five games of the trip were the Raptors’ best stretch of offense this season, even though Pascal Siakam missed their loss to the Clippers on Wednesday. RJ Barrett led seven Raptors who averaged double-figures over that stretch and has an effective field goal percentage of 63.9% in his seven games with Toronto, up from 47.8% in 26 games with New York.

The Raptors are just a game and a half out of the Play-In Club, with the 10th-place Nets continuing to slide. But the post-trade results haven’t kept the focus off of what’s going to happen with Pascal Siakam in the next 3 1/2 weeks. They will play five of their next six games at home but have some tough opponents in town this week.

Week 13: vs. BOS, vs. MIA, vs. CHI, @ NYK

Last Week:23

Record: 18-21

OffRtg: 116.7 (13) DefRtg: 117.7 (24) NetRtg: -1.0 (18) Pace: 99.7 (13)

The Warriors did not get Draymond Green back last week, and they did not play well against the Pelicans on Wednesday, suffering their worst loss of the season. They began a four-game trip with a win in Chicago, but still haven’t won two straight games since before Christmas.

Three takeaways

  • The Warriors’ schedule has been home-heavy, but it’s been the league’s toughest regarding cumulative opponent winning percentage. Still, they’re not going anywhere if they can’t beat good teams, and after losses to the Pelicans and Bucks last week, they’re 7-20 (3-19 since early November) against the 17 teams that currently have winning records.
  • Their win in Chicago on Friday was the Warriors’ most efficient offensive performance (140 points on just 98 possessions) of the season. It came with a big game (30 points and six assists) from Klay Thompson, as well as a breakout for Andrew Wiggins (17 and eight), who was back in the starting lineup. But the pair combined to shoot just 10-for-36 (with one total free throw attempt) as they lost in Milwaukee the following night.
  • The Warriors rank last defensively in January, having allowed more than 130 points per 100 possessions in five of their seven games (including each of the last four). They’ve also played more January games against teams that currently rank in the bottom 10 offensively (three) than they’ve played against teams that rank in the top 10 (two).

So it’s a good time for Green to be making his return, and he’s not on the injury report for their game in Memphis on Monday. The Warriors are 4-0 against the three teams below them in the Western Conference standings, yet to face the 13th-place and injury-depleted Grizzlies.

Week 13: @ MEM, @ UTA, vs. DAL

Last Week:22

Record: 14-25

OffRtg: 107.8 (29) DefRtg: 113.2 (11) NetRtg: -5.4 (25) Pace: 99.7 (14)

The hits just keep on coming for the Grizzlies. On Monday, they announced that Ja Morant is out for the season with a labral tear in his right shoulder. On Tuesday, Marcus Smart suffered a finger injury that will keep him out through the All-Star break. And on Friday, Desmond Bane suffered an ankle sprain that will keep him out for at least six weeks. Jaren Jackson (knee contusion) also missed two of their three games last week.

Three takeaways

  • Morant, Bane, Smart and Jackson played a total of 114 minutes in six total games together, and the Grizzlies were 3-3 when all four were available to start the game.
  • The Grizzlies did go 3-0 on a road trip that ended with an impressive win in Dallas on Tuesday. With that, they’re amazingly 11-10 on the road (and just 3-15 at home). Only four teams in NBA history (three of them in the last three seasons) have finished a season with a winning record on the road and a losing record at home, though it would be quite a feat if Memphis can keep that road record above .500.
  • Offense remains a real struggle, with 5-foot-8 Jacob Gilyard now starting point guard (with no real backup). But the Grizzlies still have a top-10 defense. They rank third in opponent turnover rate, having forced 23 out of the Knicks on Saturday. Gilyard is in the top 10 in deflections per 36 minutes and Xavier Tillman had consistently active hands and six of their 14 steals against New York.

Two of those 15 home losses have come (by a total of 46 points) against the Wolves, and the Grizzlies will begin a four-game trip in Minnesota on Thursday. First, they face the Warriors for the first time.

Week 13: vs. GSW, @ MIN, @ CHI

Last Week:24

Record: 16-22

OffRtg: 115.3 (16) DefRtg: 117.0 (23) NetRtg: -1.8 (20) Pace: 98.9 (21)

The Nets are somehow still in the Play-In Club, though they’ve lost 12 of their last 15 games, having gone to Paris and fallen into a 26-point hole against the Cavs.

Three takeaways

  • Two big questions face the Nets on any given night. First, how are they gaining advantages and creating good shots on offense? Cam Thomas is the one guy with some juice off the dribble, but the Nets have been at their worst when he’s been on the floor, and he’ll more often dribble himself into a tough shot than pass to a teammate with a better one. They added sloppiness (13 first-half turnovers) to their inability to create advantages in Paris and scored just 34 points on 48 possessions in the first 24 minutes.
  • Second, why does a team with a lot of good defenders rank 23rd defensively? Using more drop coverage this season, they’ve protected the paint well, one of two teams (the Thunder are the other) that rank in the top five in both opponent field goal percentage in the paint (55%, fifth) and the (lowest) percentage of their opponents’ shots that have come in the paint (46%, third). According to Second Spectrum tracking, they rank eighth in opponent shot quality.
  • But it may be that their defense is too soft on the perimeter, ranking 29th in opponent turnover rate and 23rd in opponent effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint. Cam Johnson averaged 3.9 deflections per 36 minutes in his 17 games with the Suns last season and 2.8 per 36 in his 25 games with the Nets last season … but is at just 1.7 per 36 this season.

The Nets are home for just one game before heading out West for three. They’ll have a rest advantage against the Heat on Monday, having won two of the first three meetings.

Week 13: vs. MIA, @ POR, @ LAL, @ LAC

Last Week:25

Record: 15-23

OffRtg: 117.9 (8) DefRtg: 120.4 (27) NetRtg: -2.5 (24) Pace: 102.3 (5)

The Hawks have two wins over good teams — the Thunder and Sixers — in January. And both times, they’ve followed up the win with two losses in which their top-10 offense has come up empty.

Three takeaways

  • With Dejounte Murray in trade rumors, it’s worth noting that the Hawks have been outscored by 4.9 points per 100 possessions in 844 minutes with Murray and Trae Young on the floor together, but are a plus-1.3 per 100 in 937 total minutes with one on the floor without the other. The bigger difference has been on offense, in part because Bogdan Bogdanovic has been on the floor for 91% of those one-or-the-other minutes.
  • Interestingly, Bogdanovic wasn’t on the floor down the stretch of the Hawks’ overtime win over the Sixers … until Tyrese Maxey fouled out. He then missed a 3 for the lead before witnessing a Jalen Johnson takeover. Johnson had a big and-one dunk at the end of regulation and then scored seven straight points in OT to push the Hawks to the win.
  • The Hawks have attempted an average of 10.5 more free throws than their opponents over their last eight games. But they’ve been outscored by an average of 10.9 points per game from 3-point range over that stretch. They’ve seen the league’s biggest jump in 3-point rate from last season, but their opponents have shot 38.9% (the league’s third-highest opponent mark) from beyond the arc.

The Hawks are just 3-14 against the eight Eastern Conference teams that currently have winning records, set to face three of them this week. One of those three wins was in Orlando, and the Magic will be in Atlanta on Wednesday.

Week 13: vs. SAS, vs. ORL, @ MIA, vs. CLE

Last Week:28

Record: 7-31

OffRtg: 111.7 (25) DefRtg: 120.9 (30) NetRtg: -9.2 (27) Pace: 103.5 (1)

After five straight tough games to start 2024, the Wizards’ schedule has started to get a little easier, and they got an easy, 28-point win in Atlanta on Saturday, putting an end to a six-game losing streak.

Three takeaways

  • The Atlanta win was the third time the Wizards have held their opponent under a point per possession. Their last two opponents (Indiana and Atlanta) have combined to shoot just 48-for-105 (46%) in the paint, though the Wizards still rank just 24th in opponent field goal percentage in the paint (59%) for the season.
  • Daniel Gafford had six blocks against the Pacers and two more against the Hawks. Only three players — Brook Lopez, Chet Holmgren and Myles Turner — have defended more total shots at the rim than Gafford (338), but his rim-protection mark (opponents have shot 56.2% at the rim when he’s been there) ranks just 17th among 38 players who’ve defended at least 150. The Wizards seemingly have three good defenders — Tyus Jones, Deni Avdija and Gafford — in their starting lineup, but have still allowed 118.6 points per 100 possessions in 567 minutes with all three on the floor, and that number is worse in (limited) minutes with Jordan Poole off the floor.
  • Poole has broken out of a slump where he was barely shooting the ball. He averaged 24 points on an effective field goal percentage of 57.4% over their Wizards’ three games last week, and the team scored 122.5 points per 100 possessions in his 89 total minutes on the floor.

The Wizards remain the only team that hasn’t won two straight games, but a home game against the Pistons on Monday afternoon is the best possible chance to shed that distinction. They have two games each against Detroit and San Antonio over the next 15 days.

Week 13: vs. DET, @ NYK, vs. SAS, vs. DEN

Last Week:29

Record: 7-31

OffRtg: 109.0 (27) DefRtg: 118.0 (25) NetRtg: -8.9 (26) Pace: 102.6 (3)

Your best argument for the West being much better than the East might be that the Spurs (0-11 vs. the East before Wednesday) beat the Pistons and Hornets by a combined 58 points last week. Those were, easily, their two most dominant wins of the season.

Three takeaways

  • With the two wins and a narrow loss to the Bulls on Saturday (along with some ugly results from the other four teams in the bottom five), the Spurs have climbed from 30th to 26th in point differential per 100 possessions. They rank 10th in January because all six of their games have been wins by more than 20 points (two) or single-digit losses (four).
  • The last five games have, easily, been their best stretch of offense this season (122.4 points scored per 100 possessions). Seven Spurs have averaged double-figures over that stretch, led by Victor Wembanyama (23.3 points over the four games he’s played). He’s been a little more consistent from beyond the arc (making at least two 3s in six of his last seven games) and also finishing better in the paint (67.2% over that same stretch).
  • Tre Jones has started the last five games, and he scored a career-high 30 points in the Spurs’ loss on Saturday. They still don’t have a lineup that’s played more than 88 minutes, but their new starting lineup has outscored opponents by 32 points in its 48. The context, of course, is that’s a plus-23 in 21 minutes against the Pistons and Hornets last week and a plus-9 in 27 minutes otherwise.

Wembanyama sat out the Chicago loss and has now missed the second game of each of the Spurs’ last three back-to-backs. They’ll have another one Friday and Saturday (at Charlotte and Washington), Games 3 and 4 of a five-game trip that begins Monday afternoon in Atlanta.

Week 13: @ ATL, @ BOS, @ CHA, @ WAS

Last Week:26

Record: 10-29

OffRtg: 107.1 (30) DefRtg: 117.0 (22) NetRtg: -9.9 (28) Pace: 99.1 (19)

It might say a lot about the Nets that the Blazers got a win in Brooklyn eight days ago because Portland has lost its other seven January games by an average of 30 points.

Three takeaways

  • An 11-point loss at home usually isn’t cause to celebrate, but the Blazers staying competitive with the Suns on Sunday was a bit of a breakthrough after trailing by more than 35 points in each of their three previous games. Scoot Henderson had a career-high 33 points and Anfernee Simons scored almost as many points (28) as he did over the previous three games total (31), though he’s still just 4-for-26 (15%) on 2-point shots over the four-game losing streak.
  • According to Second Spectrum tracking, the Blazers rank last in both the quality of their shots and the impact of their shooters on their effective field goal percentage.
  • Among the nine Blazers who’ve attempted at least 200 shots, the one with the highest effective field goal percentage is Deandre Ayton, who’s missed the last 11 games. Chauncey Billups said Sunday that the big man is “close” to a return.

The schedule gets a little easier over the next two weeks, with five of the Blazers’ next seven games against teams that are currently at or below .500. They beat the Nets behind 38 points and 11 assists from Simons eight days ago, and they’ll face them again on Wednesday.

Week 13: vs. BKN, vs. IND, @ LAL

Last Week:27

Record: 8-29

OffRtg: 108.9 (28) DefRtg: 120.7 (29) NetRtg: -11.9 (30) Pace: 98.9 (20)

LaMelo Ball returned from a 20-game absence on Friday, but he hasn’t been able to get the Hornets back in the win column. They’ve lost five straight and 16 of their last 17.

Three takeaways

  • The league average for field goal percentage in the paint is 57.4% and through their first 32 games, the Hornets were at 55.8% (22nd). But over their five-game losing streak, they’ve shot a brutal 91-for-206 (44.2%) in the paint, with JT Thor (5-for-23) and Brandon Miller (2-for-15) leading the struggles.
  • Ball went 15-for-16 from the free throw line in San Antonio on Friday and didn’t have a single attempt in Miami two nights later. The Hornets scored less than a point per possession with him on the floor over the two games but were far more anemic (62 points on 75 possessions, 83 per 100) in his 39 minutes on the bench.
  • The Hornets got 38 points from Terry Rozier and erased two double-digit deficits against the Bulls on Monday, but lost in overtime, scoring just five points on 11 clutch possessions. With three losses by an average of 26 points later in the week, they remain winless (0-18) in games that weren’t within five points in the last five minutes.

The loss in Miami began a stretch where the Hornets are playing five of seven games against teams that rank in the top 10 defensively. But they’ll get a second shot at the Spurs’ 25th-ranked defense on Friday.

Week 13: @ NOP, vs. SAS, vs. PHI

Last Week:30

Record: 3-36

OffRtg: 109.3 (26) DefRtg: 120.6 (28) NetRtg: -11.2 (29) Pace: 101.3 (7)

The Pistons got their first chance to play the last-place team in the other conference, but they were without Cade Cunningham and lost by 22, allowing the Spurs to register their most efficient offensive performance of the season (130 points on 98 possessions).

Three takeaways

  • The losses aren’t as painful when the losing streak is only seven games long, but the Pistons’ had a couple of rough ones last week. Their game against the Kings on Tuesday was the second game they’ve led by at least 20 points … and they’ve lost them both. All other teams have winning records and are a combined 255-16 (.941) when leading by 20 points or more.
  • On Friday, they led by as many as 12 points and were still up five with three minutes left, only to see the Rockets go on a 10-0 run. Detroit is 3-7 in games it led by at least five points in the fourth quarter. The 136.6 points per 100 clutch possessions that the Pistons have allowed this season would be 10.5 more than any other team allowed in the previous 27 seasons for which we have clutch data (though the Wizards have allowed just 2.2 fewer).
  • Cunningham is out, but the Pistons did get Isaiah Stewart back from an eight-game absence on Friday. And it may not be a coincidence that it was their best defensive game (112 points allowed on 99 possessions) since early December. They’ve been 8.7 points per 100 possessions better with Stewart on the floor (minus-6.3) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-15.0), with that differential being almost entirely about defense. Marvin Bagley III was on the floor for only 25% of those no-Stewart minutes, but the Pistons paid two second-round picks on Sunday to get off his contract.

They got clobbered by the Spurs, but the Pistons will get to play three games against the Wizards (x 2) and Hornets over the next two weeks. Their six-game homestand (which begins Wednesday) also includes four games against the Wolves, Bucks (x 2) and Thunder.

Week 13: @ WAS, vs. MIN, vs. MIL