Week 13 Power Rankings: Golden State Warriors lead steady top 10 at season's midway point
Believe it or not, we’re halfway there.
The league will reach the midway point of the season (615 of 1,230 games) when two of Thursday’s four games are complete. For some teams (like the one in Orlando that has lost 24 of its last 28 games), it may feel like the season should be over soon. For others (like the one in Cleveland that just got its starting point guard), it may feel like the season has just gotten started.
A look at the standings may elicit the feeling that we should just get the playoffs started right now. In the Western Conference, there’s a clear top eight, with the the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz seemingly running out of time (and healthy bodies) to make a run. In the East, it appears that we have nine teams for eight spots, with the New York Knicks facing too tough of a second-half schedule to make it 10 for eight.
Most teams are exactly who they’ve been over their first 41 games. But the Miami Heat will tell you that things can change in the second half of the season. Maybe another remarkable turnaround will get started this week.
- Last week: Warriors face league’s toughest January schedule
- This time last year: As trade season begins, Cavs get Korver, drop in rankings — The Warriors blew a 24-point, second-half lead to the Grizzlies and Draymond Green didn’t like it when Kevin Durant called for an isolation in the final minute. The Hawks, in the middle of a seven-game winning streak, sent Kyle Korver to Cleveland. Giannis Antetokounmpo hit a buzzer-beating game-winner at Madison Square Garden, Tyler Johnson hit a more unconventional game-winner in Sacramento, Kawhi Leonard stole the ball from Pau Gasol, and Marco Belinelli just didn’t have enough time to pull off the game-winning-shot-after-inbounding-the-ball-off-the-opponent’s-rear-end trick.
- Plus-minus stud: Taj Gibson (MIN) was a plus-46 in four games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: Brandon Ingram (LAL) was a minus-49 in four games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Golden State (3-0) — James Harden was out, but the Warriors got a road win over the No. 2 team in the West without Kevin Durant on Thursday, also taking care of business in Dallas and L.A., running their road winning streak to 10 games.
- Zero team of the week: Atlanta (0-3) — The Hawks blew a 12-point lead with less than five minutes to go in Phoenix on Tuesday, and things only got worse from there. Losses in Portland and L.A. ran their road losing streak to nine games.
- East vs. West: The East is 123-116 (.515) against the West in interconference games after going 11-6 last week.
- Toughest schedules so far: 1. Charlotte, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Utah
- Easiest schedules so far: 1. Houston, 2. Cleveland, 3. Portland
- Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
- High jumps of the week: Charlotte (+4), Portland (+2), Four teams (+1)
- Free falls of the week: Utah (-3), Indiana (-2), Five teams (-1)
- Team to watch in Week 13: Toronto — The Raptors’ 14-1 record at the Air Canada Centre will be challenged by visits from the Heat (who have won five of their last six road games), Cavs and Warriors.
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Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league has averaged 99.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.6 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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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.
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Last Week: 1
Pace: 102.7 (4) OffRtg: 113.0 (1) DefRtg: 101.9 (3) NetRtg: +11.0 (1)
Kevin Durant is obviously the more impactful defensive player, but it's hard not to believe that Stephen Curry remains the Warriors' MVP when the team scores 122 points per 100 possessions over four games upon Curry's return, even with Durant missing the last two. Curry has shot a ridiculous 28-for-52 from 3-point range since returning and, though the game-winner in Dallas on Wednesday was off the dribble, most of the attempts (29) have come off the catch, with the Warriors having assisted on more 75 percent of their buckets over their last eight games. Despite some defensive slippage, the champs have won 10 straight games on the road, with a five-game trip (where four of the five opponents are no worse than the 21-17 Bucks) starting Friday.
Week 13: vs. DEN, vs. LAC, @ MIL, @ TOR
Last Week: 2
Pace: 97.7 (22) OffRtg: 104.9 (14) DefRtg: 99.7 (1) NetRtg: +5.2 (4)
The Celtics' six-game winning streak includes wins (all at home) over the Rockets, Cavs and Wolves, and they held those top-five offenses to just 91 points per 100 possessions collectively. Their own offense has struggled; Both teams have scored less than a point per possession in four of their last five games and they rank last in free throw rate (19 attempts per 100 shots from the field) over the winning streak. But they've solidified their status as the league's best defense. They rank second in opponent field goal percentage in the paint and first in opponent effective field goal percentage outside the paint, ranking in the top five in opponent 3-point percentage for the 11th straight season.
Week 13: vs. PHI (London)
Last Week: 3
Pace: 100.6 (10) OffRtg: 111.0 (4) DefRtg: 103.2 (6) NetRtg: +7.8 (2)
The Raptors scored 124 points per 100 possessions in two games last week against a Bucks' defense that had them stymied in Games 1-4 of the first round last year. Shooting (and making) threes raises DeMar DeRozan's ceiling and he set a franchise record with 52 points on Monday. Kyle Lowry is also shooting better (league-best 17-for-33 on pull-up threes since Dec. 15), and the Raptors' starting lineup has been much better than any they've had in the last five years. Of course, they still closed that overtime game against Milwaukee with Serge Ibaka at the five, a look that they haven't used much, but has produced good numbers on both ends of the floor. Despite some slippage on defense, the Raps have won their last 11 games within the Eastern Conference, but have played the fewest games (seven) within the current top eight. This week's three-game homestand includes two more of those, as well as a visit from the champs.
Week 13: @ BKN, vs. MIA, vs. CLE, vs. GSW
Last Week: 4
Pace: 101.4 (8) OffRtg: 112.6 (2) DefRtg: 105.1 (13) NetRtg: +7.5 (3)
Not surprisingly, the Rockets have seen drops in both the percentage of their shots that have come in the restricted area and their free throw rate in their three games without James Harden, who generates layups and free throws for more than just himself. But they were OK in the three games as long as Chris Paul was on the floor, playing even with the Warriors and Pistons in Paul's minutes in their losses on Thursday and Saturday. They were outscored by 17 points in his 25 minutes on the bench in those two games, allowing their opponents to shoot 66 percent in those minutes. It doesn't sound like Luc Mbah a Moute will be back soon to help the defense, but this week's three games are all against bottom-five offenses.
Week 13: @ CHI, vs. POR, @ PHX
Last Week: 5
Pace: 96.6 (28) OffRtg: 105.2 (13) DefRtg: 101.6 (2) NetRtg: +3.6 (5)
Kawhi Leonard was starting to look more like himself last week, registering eight steals and seven deflections in wins over the Knicks and Suns. The Spurs have allowed less than a point per possession in the eight games he's played in (compared to 111 in the last four games he's missed) and just 95 per 100 with him on the floor. But now Leonard is dealing with a partial tear in his left shoulder which will, at best, keep him from being at his best for the foreseeable future. We still don't know how good this version of the Spurs can be (or if we'll ever got a chance to find out), though we're thankful for more Manu Ginobili, who made more clutch threes in their loss in Portland on Sunday (two) than he made all of last season (one).
Week 13: @ SAC, @ LAL, vs. DEN
Last Week: 6
Pace: 99.1 (15) OffRtg: 111.0 (3) DefRtg: 108.5 (27) NetRtg: +2.6 (8)
Isaiah Thomas scored 36 points in 40 minutes last week and the Cavs scored 114 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. More important is that, despite some rust, he looked confident in what his body can do. His quickness will get himself to the bucket and to the line, and will also put defenses in rotation and create a lot of open shots for his teammates. His addition (especially with his minutes being staggered with those of LeBron James, as was the case on Saturday) makes the Cavs' offense more potent, which is good, because their defense remains pretty bad. It kept them from putting the Magic away on Saturday and has kept their point differential at plus-2.7 per game, the worst mark for a LeBron James team in the last 10 years.
Week 13: @ MIN, @ TOR, @ IND
Last Week: 7
Pace: 97.8 (20) OffRtg: 108.5 (6) DefRtg: 107.5 (23) NetRtg: +1.0 (13)
The Bucks went 0-2 against the Raptors last week, allowing Toronto to score 124 points per 100 possessions over the two games. But they won their two more important games (as they play for a top-4 seed), holding the Pacers and Wizards to just 102. (And yes, it's interesting that Toronto was the team that best took advantage of Milwaukee's defense.) Thon Maker has had a little bit of a renaissance, totaling 42 points and six blocks off the bench over the four games, but the Bucks' defense has generally been at its worst with Maker on the floor. After closing their overtime loss in Toronto on Monday with three point guards, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo, they went back to John Henson at center down the stretch of their win in Washington on Saturday.
Week 13: @ IND, vs. ORL, vs. GSW, @ MIA
Last Week: 8
Pace: 99.6 (14) OffRtg: 106.4 (10) DefRtg: 103.9 (8) NetRtg: +2.5 (9)
The Wizards have taken care of business against the last three below-.500 teams they've played, and remain in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. But it seems like we're waiting for John Wall to take things to another level. He had a season-high 16 assists against Milwaukee on Saturday, but shot 5-for-19 and was 0-for-5 with two turnovers in the fourth quarter as the Wizards blew a late lead. Wall is having his least effective shooting season (effective field goal percentage of 46 percent) since 2013 and has been the league's worst high-volume shooter off the dribble, making just 28 percent of his pull-up jumpers. Otto Porter has improved as a playmaker and could allow Wall to play more off the ball, but has averaged just 0.8 post-up possessions and 1.4 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game, according to Synergy tracking. And now, he's dealing with a hip injury.
Week 13: vs. UTA, vs. ORL, vs. BKN
Last Week: 9
Pace: 97.7 (21) OffRtg: 109.7 (5) DefRtg: 106.7 (20) NetRtg: +3.0 (6)
The Wolves shot 8-for-34 from 3-point range in a pair of ugly losses in Brooklyn and Boston, but have allowed just 97 points per 100 possessions over their last five games, their best defensive stretch in 1 1/2 seasons under Tom Thibodeau. Karl-Anthony Towns has improved on that end of the floor and the Wolves have been 14.6 points per 100 possessions better defensively with him in the game over their last 21 games after being 10.4 points per 100 possessions worse defensively in the game through their first 20. Of course, he remains an offensive force, the only player who has shot 70 percent or better on at least 150 shots in the restricted area and 40 percent or better on at least 100 3-point attempts. The Wolves' five-game homestand, which began with a big win over New Orleans on Saturday, includes their final meeting with the Thunder on Wednesday.
Week 13: vs. CLE, vs. OKC, vs. NYK, vs. POR
Last Week: 10
Pace: 97.7 (23) OffRtg: 105.8 (12) DefRtg: 102.8 (5) NetRtg: +3.0 (7)
The last four games without Andre Roberson (left patellar tendinitis) have been the Thunder's worst four-game defensive stretch of the season (112 points allowed per 100 possessions), even though the four opponents rank 11th, 16th, 27th and 28th in offensive efficiency. Terrance Ferguson had some highlights in L.A. on Wednesday, the OKC stars have continued to shoot well, and Paul George and Russell Westbrook rank first and third in deflections per game. But the overall defense hasn't been there without Roberson. The Thunder's regular starting lineup has allowed just 96.3 points per 100 possessions in its 440 minutes together, but in 265 minutes with somebody else in Roberson's place, OKC has allowed 118.
Week 13: vs. POR, @ MIN, @ CHA
Last Week: 12 ↑
Pace: 103.0 (2) OffRtg: 104.6 (15) DefRtg: 103.2 (7) NetRtg: +1.4 (10)
The Sixers are going to London with a four-game winning streak, their best four-game offensive stretch (almost 114 points scored per 100 possessions) in their 4 1/2 seasons under Brett Brown. Their shooting has been better (Dario Saric is 16-for-26 from 3-point range over his last five games), they've been getting to the line more (and Ben Simmons was 4-for-5 down the stretch against San Antonio on Wednesday), and they've cut down on turnovers (14 or fewer in four of their last five). Joel Embiid has been playing with a sprained right hand and the Sixers have outscored their opponents by an amazing 29 points per 100 possessions in his 160 minutes since Christmas.
Week 13: vs. BOS (London)
Last Week: 11 ↓
Pace: 97.5 (24) OffRtg: 103.9 (20) DefRtg: 104.6 (10) NetRtg: -0.7 (17)
The Pistons were rather Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish over the weekend, getting clobbered by the Sixers with Andre Drummond on Friday and beating the Rockets (who had a rest advantage) without him on Saturday. They're 0-3 vs. Philly, but have now beat each of the top five teams in the West, having allowed less than a point per possession in their eight total games against the group. On the other end of the floor, only the Magic have been worse since Dec. 1. The two games Drummond missed with bruised ribs last week were more than he's missed in any season since his rookie year.
Week 13: @ NOP, @ BKN, @ CHI
Last Week: 13
Pace: 98.8 (18) OffRtg: 107.6 (9) DefRtg: 106.3 (16) NetRtg: +1.3 (11)
The Nuggets have been outscored by 70 points in the first, second and fourth quarters, but are a plus-149 in the third after a week in which they outscored the Suns and Jazz 75-34 in the third quarter. Will Barton (62.7 percent) and Gary Harris (59.6 percent) both rank in the top 10 in third-quarter effective field goal percentage, and only the Celtics (11) and Cavs (10) have more wins than Denver (eight) when trailing at halftime. But they weren't able to get over the hump and registered a season-high 26 turnovers in Sacramento on Saturday, and will visit the only team that's been better than them in third quarters on Monday.
Week 13: @ GSW, vs. ATL, vs. MEM, @ SAS
Last Week: 16 ↑
Pace: 98.9 (17) OffRtg: 103.1 (24) DefRtg: 102.8 (4) NetRtg: +0.3 (15)
C.J. McCollum is having the worst shooting season of his career on his bread-and-butter shots, shooting 41 percent on non-restricted-area paint shots, down from 47 percent over his first four seasons. But those remain his bread and butter, and the game-winner in Chicago on Monday and the game-winner against San Antonio on Sunday were remarkably similar, off-balance runners in traffic. The Blazers have won five of their last seven games, even though Damian Lillard has played in just two of the seven, because their offense has come alive and they've survived four straight close finishes. After beating the Spurs at home, they now embark on a trip where they'll face four more West playoff teams, the toughest week they have left on the schedule.
Week 13: @ OKC, @ HOU, @ NOP, @ MIN
Last Week: 14 ↓
Pace: 101.8 (7) OffRtg: 108.3 (7) DefRtg: 107.8 (25) NetRtg: +0.5 (14)
The Pelicans remain comfortably in playoff position, a result due more to the struggles of the Clippers and Jazz than their own success, though their win in Utah on Wednesday was one of their better defensive games of the last month. Of course, they followed that up by allowing the Timberwolves to score 69 points in the first half on Saturday. They rank 25th defensively overall, but have had the league's worst defense against top-10 offenses, having allowed more than 114 points per 100 possessions in their 16 games (in which they're 4-12) against the other nine. Fortunately, they don't play another top-10 offense until Jan. 26 and have five games against bottom-10 offenses between now and then.
Week 13: vs. DET, @ MEM, vs. POR, @ NYK
Last Week: 17 ↑
Pace: 96.8 (27) OffRtg: 103.7 (22) DefRtg: 105.1 (12) NetRtg: -1.4 (21)
Offense has been a struggle most of the season for the Heat, but they've scored 114 points per 100 possessions (with six guys averaging double-figures) as they've won four straight games to climb into fifth place in the East. Last year, as they approached the midway point of the season, their point differential was better than their record (a hint that they could turn things around). This year, the opposite is true. They're 22-17 with the point differential of a team that's 17-22, thanks to a 16-7 record (and six straight wins) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Josh Richardson had the game-winning free throws against New York on Friday and the game-winning bucket against Utah on Sunday, with Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk also coming up big last week.
Week 13: @ TOR, @ IND, vs. MIL
Last Week: 15 ↓
Pace: 99.0 (16) OffRtg: 108.1 (8) DefRtg: 107.1 (12) NetRtg: +1.0 (12)
The Pacers got Victor Oladipo back in time for a four-game homestand that began with a thrashing of the Bulls on Saturday and includes big games this week against two teams - Milwaukee and Miami - they trail by two games in the loss column. They've been 13.2 points per 100 possessions better with Oladipo on the floor than they've been with him off the floor, with the bigger differential coming on defense (even though he's typically playing against the opponent's starters). That defense allowed almost 118 points per 100 possessions in the four games he missed and the Chicago win was the first time in more than a month that they held their opponent under a point per possession.
Week 13: vs. MIL, vs. MIA, vs. CLE, @ PHX
Last Week: 18
Pace: 99.7 (12) OffRtg: 106.2 (11) DefRtg: 106.6 (19) NetRtg: -0.4 (16)
Just when the Clippers were threatening the teams at the bottom of the West playoff picture, they got bad news regarding Austin Rivers, lost Milos Teodosic for at least a couple of games, and lost Blake Griffin to a nasty looking concussion on Saturday in what was their 12th straight loss to the Warriors. They've still won six of their last seven games against teams that are currently under .500 (having scored 114 points per 100 possessions over the seven games), with three more games against that group this week. But continuity is obviously an issue. Griffin and Teodosic have played just 122 minutes together and their most-used lineup still includes Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari.
Week 13: vs. ATL, @ GSW, @ SAC, vs. SAC
Last Week: 19
Pace: 98.4 (19) OffRtg: 104.1 (17) DefRtg: 105.3 (14) NetRtg: -1.2 (20)
Jeff Hornacek has been experimenting with random appearances by Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah and Ramon Sessions over the last five or six games. But no matter who's getting minutes off the bench, the Knicks can't stay afloat if Kristaps Porzingis continues to feel "so tired." After averaging 29.3 points on 48 percent shooting in October, he has seen both his scoring average and field goal percentage drop each subsequent month. After shooting 15-for-46 in his first three January games, he was slightly more efficient in scoring 29 points in Dallas on Sunday. He has seen a huge increase in usage rate this season, but with that has come a drop in effective field goal percentage. He hasn't finished nearly as well at the basket (shooting 56 percent in the restricted area) as he did last season (68 percent) and has exchanged some threes for mid-range shots, taking more of the latter than the former.
Week 13: vs. CHI, @ MIN, vs. NOP
Last Week: 24 ↑
Pace: 100.8 (9) OffRtg: 103.8 (21) DefRtg: 104.5 (9) NetRtg: -0.7 (18)
The Hornets went 3-1 on a trip out West and are now home for eight of their next nine games, probably their last chance to make a push for the playoffs. Their offense hasn't been all that consistent, but has been trending up (108 points scored per 100 possessions) over the last three weeks, with Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb giving them improved shooting off the bench. The Hornets still rank last in effective field goal percentage, but lead the league in both turnover percentage (their three turnovers in Sacramento on Tuesday were a league low this season) and free throw rate (with Dwight Howard having some better shooting games of late).
Week 13: vs. DAL, vs. UTA, vs. OKC
Last Week: 20 ↓
Pace: 99.7 (11) OffRtg: 100.8 (29) DefRtg: 107.8 (24) NetRtg: -6.9 (29)
The Bulls' offense remains fun to watch most nights. They rank fifth in assist percentage and lead the league in player movement (distance traveled per minute of possession). Lauri Markkanen has averaged 18.8 points (shooting 46 from 3-point range) over his last six games, and the team has scored 119 points per 100 possessions in his 62 minutes on the floor with Nikola Mirotic. But the Bulls have allowed 118 as they've lost four of their last five games. The mark ranks last defensively over that stretch. Six of their last 10 games have been against teams that rank in the top 10 offensively, and they host another one on Monday.
Week 13: vs. HOU, @ NYK, vs. DET
Last Week: 23 ↑
Pace: 102.3 (5) OffRtg: 103.3 (23) DefRtg: 106.3 (17) NetRtg: -3.0 (22)
The Nets are the only team that hasn't won a game in its own division, though divisions don't matter and they've given the Celtics two close games in the last eight days. Their last five games have been their best defensive stretch of the season (96 points allowed per 100 possessions), where only 51 percent of their opponents' shots have come from the restricted area or 3-point range. With that mark at 57 percent for the season, they're No. 1 in shot-location defense by a wide margin (the next highest mark is Dallas at 61 percent). They remain banged up (with DeMarre Carroll suffering a knee injury on the last play of their loss to the Celtics on Saturday), but Jahlil Okafor is finally getting to play and managed to put up 12 shots in less than 13 minutes against Boston.
Week 13: vs. TOR, vs. DET, @ ATL, @ WAS
Last Week: 22 ↓
Pace: 97.3 (25) OffRtg: 104.3 (16) DefRtg: 107.3 (22) NetRtg: -3.0 (22)
The Mavs have become Team #LeaguePassAlert, with each of their last nine games having been within five points in the last five minutes. The craziness hit a fever pitch last week with three wild games at American Airlines Center. On Wednesday, they erased a 10-point Warriors lead with less then three minutes to go ... only to be beat by a Stephen Curry three. On Friday, they gave themselves a chance to tie after trailing the Bulls by eight points with less than 30 seconds left ... but Yogi Ferrell missed an off-balance three at the buzzer. And on Sunday, they erased a 13-point Knicks lead with less than five minutes left ... only to come up empty in the final 45 seconds. With the close finishes, Dennis Smith's dunks, their Dirk-plus-bench lineup, and efficient offense on both ends of the floor (the Mavs and their opponents have combined to score 113 points per 100 possessions over their last 10 games), this is the most fun team in the league to watch right now.
Week 13: vs. ORL, @ CHA, vs. LAL
Last Week: 21 ↓
Pace: 96.9 (26) OffRtg: 103.9 (19) DefRtg: 104.7 (11) NetRtg: -0.8 (19)
Though Rudy Gobert has played in just 18 games and they had played 13 of their last 20 against top-10 offenses, the Jazz managed to remain in the top 10 defensively through Friday's loss in Denver. Sunday's loss in Miami finally knocked them out, though they'll probably think more about the offensive possessions that got away in the final minutes. They've lost 13 of their last 16 games (ranking 29th offensively and 28th defensively over that stretch), getting knocked out of playoff contention by a brutal schedule. They're 21 games through a stretch where they're playing 21 of 24 against teams that are currently at or above .500 and 13 of the 24 on the road, where they've been more than 11 points per 100 possessions worse defensively than they've been at home. Their second-half schedule will be easier and their point differential is that of a team that's 19-21, so maybe they're this year's versions of last year's Heat.
Week 13: @ WAS, @ CHA
Last Week: 25
Pace: 102.8 (3) OffRtg: 102.6 (27) DefRtg: 108.7 (29) NetRtg: -6.1 (28)
Progress isn't linear, but it's been visible in the Suns' young core beyond the obvious (Devin Booker). Marquese Chriss has been doing everything a little better over the last couple of weeks and had an incredible and critical block in the Suns' comeback win over Atlanta on Tuesday. Josh Jackson is getting more comfortable from beyond the arc (9-for-19 from 3-point range over his last nine games), while Dragan Bender drained six threes (and assisted Booker on three more) in the Suns' win over Oklahoma City on Sunday. T.J. Warren can be counted on for 18-20 points every night, and the group has been more cohesive as a whole. They've recorded assists on 62 percent of their buckets (the seventh highest rate in the league) over their last 12 games, having ranked 29th in assist percentage last season (49 percent) and again this season through mid-December (51 percent).
Week 13: vs. HOU, vs. IND
Last Week: 26
Pace: 103.9 (1) OffRtg: 101.4 (28) DefRtg: 105.8 (15) NetRtg: -4.4 (25)
Previous starting lineups haven't been so terrible, but the Lakers remain one of the league's worst first-quarter teams (they trailed the Wolves 16-0 after four minutes on Monday) and have a new lineup for the new year, with Julius Randle starting the last six games and Brook Lopez back from an ankle injury. As much promise as Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have showed individually, the Lakers have been better with only one of them on the floor (minus-11 in 978 minutes) than with them on the floor together (minus-151 in 758 minutes). They played just nine minutes together as the Lakers ended their nine-game losing streak with their best offensive game of the season on Sunday.
Week 13: vs. SAC, vs. SAS, @ DAL
Last Week: 27
Pace: 95.8 (30) OffRtg: 103.1 (25) DefRtg: 106.4 (18) NetRtg: -3.4 (24)
As the Grizzlies continue to wait on Mike Conley (there's still no timetable for his return), starting point guard isn't the problem right now. Over their last eight games, they've outscored their opponents by 13 points per 100 possessions with Tyreke Evans on the floor. Almost everything else, including Marc Gasol's inability to make shots, is a problem. Gasol has shot 39 percent since Dec. 11 and his effective field goal percentage of 46.2 percent ranks 125th among 135 players who have attempted at least 300 shots this season (with Jusuf Nurkic the only big below him). Gasol obviously misses Conley and has actually seen a drop in usage rate since Conley last played (to 27.3 percent over the last 26 games from 27.8 percent over the first 13), rarely looking particularly aggressive offensively.
Week 13: vs. NOP, @ DEN
Last Week: 29 ↑
Pace: 96.5 (29) OffRtg: 100.3 (30) DefRtg: 110.3 (30) NetRtg: -9.9 (30)
The Suns started an all-under-25 lineup for just the second time this season on Saturday, and the kids took advantage of a sloppy Nuggets team playing the second game of a back-to-back with a wire-to-wire win. There haven't been enough signs of progress with the young guys (given how many there are on the roster), but Bogdan Bogdanovic's playmaking (he has 26 assists in his last rive games) has been a real positive, Skal Labissiere has been given another chance after getting DNP'd a few times late in December, and De'Aaron Fox got to the line 16 times in his first two games back from his quad injury. Of course, George Hill isn't feeling the lineup inconsistency and style of play.
Week 13: vs. SAS, @ LAL, vs. LAC, @ LAC
Last Week: 28 ↓
Pace: 99.6 (13) OffRtg: 104.0 (18) DefRtg: 108.5 (28) NetRtg: -4.5 (26)
As the Hawks blew an eight-point lead in less than 90 seconds in Phoenix on Tuesday, their veteran guards clinched the collapse with mental mistakes. Kent Bazemore fouled Devin Booker on a 3-point attempt to put Phoenix ahead and then, with the Hawks down three, Dennis Schroder submitted his entry for dumbest play of the year, driving to the basket as time expired. Given that Schroder has shot 9-for-41 (22 percent) from 3-point range over his last 10 games, you can understand why he wasn't comfortable pulling up. But perhaps a pass to a more capable shooter would have give the Hawks a non-zero chance of tying the game. After they helped the Lakers end a nine-game losing streak on Sunday, Atlanta is 3-18 on the road, even though Hawks not named Schroder have shot better 38 percent from 3-point range away from Philips Arena.
Week 13: @ LAC, @ DEN, vs. BKN
Last Week: 30
Pace: 101.9 (6) OffRtg: 103.0 (26) DefRtg: 108.2 (26) NetRtg: -5.3 (27)
The Magic almost came back from 23 points down late in the third quarter against the Cavs on Saturday, but as they've gone 1-13 over the last month, they've lost six straight games that were within five points in the last five minutes, having allowed their opponents to shoot 17-for-30 on clutch shots over that stretch. Mario Hezonja remains an enigma, but had a double-double on Saturday, getting a chance to start with Jonathon Simmons out. Hezonja has shot much better as a starter (effective field goal percentage of 57 percent) than off the bench (49 percent), though the Magic's offensive numbers have generally been bad when he's shared the floor with their regular starters.
Week 13: @ DAL, @ MIL, @ WAS