Power Rankings, Week 11: Clippers move past Lakers, Heat rise to No. 2 and Bucks hold top spot
New Orleans, Utah and New York are among the teams climbing up this week's rankings
The Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers were among the favorites to meet in the 2020 Finals. But through the first eight weeks of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks were head and shoulders above the rest of the league, each winning 24 of their first 27 games.
The Lakers were set to be the first top-five defense that LeBron James played for since the 2011-12 Miami Heat. The Bucks were picking up where they were before losing four straight games in the Eastern Conference finals.
And then came Christmas, when the Clippers and Sixers knocked off the Lakers and Bucks, respectively. The Clips put the clamps on a Lakers’ offense that ranks 24th in effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint. Philly took advantage of a Milwaukee defense that is on pace to set another record for 3-pointers allowed.
But the Lakers and Bucks have remained the more consistent teams in their conference. The Clippers have lost four of their last seven games, while the Sixers have lost five of their last eight. Maybe the Christmas results are the most important, and maybe consistency matters more.
Some increased parity (within the league’s two distinct tiers) has made this, perhaps, the most difficult week of the season to put 30 teams in order from best to worst. But it’s clear that, despite the Christmas loss, the Bucks deserve the No. 1 spot for a fifth straight week.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Jrue Holiday (NOP) was a plus-67 in four games last week.
- Wrong Way: De’Andre Hunter (ATL) was a minus-64 in three games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: New Orleans (4-0) — The Pelicans have risen from the abyss to win five of their last six games, picking up wins over the Nuggets, Pacers and Rockets last week.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Sacramento (0-4) — The Kings’ four losses were by a total of just 17 points, but two of them were to the Timberwolves (who had lost 11 straight games) and the Suns (who had lost eight straight).
East vs. West
- The West is 86-82 (.512) against the East in interconference games after going 6-2 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 10
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Atlanta, 3. Cleveland
- Easiest: 1. Brooklyn, 2. Chicago, 3. San Antonio
- 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: New Orleans (+6), Utah (+5), New York (+4)
- Free falls of the week: Sacramento (-9), Houston (-6), L.A. Lakers (-3), Washington (-3)
Week 11 Team to Watch
- Indiana — The Pacers have lost three of their last four, but are back home (where they’re 14-3) to host a pair of tough opponents this week. On Tuesday, they’ll play the Sixers with fifth place in the East on the line. And on Thursday, they’ll face the Nuggets, who enter Week 11 having won nine of their last 10 games. The Pacers will finish the week with a game in Atlanta on Sunday.
- Last week: Bucks make statement; Heat enter Top 5
- This time last year: Bucks are No. 1 as start of 2019 looms — The Lakers thumped the Warriors on Christmas and, afterward, were just two games in loss column behind the defending champs. Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, had 40 points and 10 assists as the Celtics beat the Sixers in overtime on Christmas. John Wall played his last game of the season and Enes Kanter was upset about a lack of playing time. Stephen Curry’s turnover set up Damian Lillard’s game-winner in Oakland, Joe Harris turned a loose ball into a game-winning bucket, and Bogdan Bogdanovic and Evan Fournier hit buzzer-beaters to beat the Lakers and Pistons, respectively.
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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 101.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.5 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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The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
Last Week: 1
Pace: 104.9 (1) OffRtg: 113.8 (2) DefRtg: 101.3 (1) NetRtg: +12.5 (1)
The Bucks will give up some 3-pointers, and on Christmas, they allowed the Sixers to make 21, six more than Philly has made in any other game this season. The Sixers can also match up with the Bucks like no other team, and Joel Embiid gave Giannis Antetokounmpo problems on both ends of the floor (he shot 4-for-4 when he had the MVP guarding him). But with Antetokounmpo missing both of the Bucks' weekend games with a back issue, it's fair to wonder if he would have played in Philly if it wasn't a Christmas game. And maybe you just throw out a loss in which Antetokounmpo shot 8-for-27, his second worst mark in 223 games in which he's attempted at least 15 shots. The two teams don't meet again until Feb. 6 and the Bucks are just two games into a stretch of 10 straight against teams currently under .500, an extended opportunity to give their star some more rest. They're 3-0 without him, having held the Pelicans, Hawks and Magic to less than 95 points per 100 possessions over the three games.
Week 11: @ CHI, vs. MIN, vs. SAS
Last Week: 5 ↑
Pace: 99.6 (21) OffRtg: 110.8 (8) DefRtg: 106.3 (11) NetRtg: +4.5 (9)
With the addition of Jimmy Butler, the Heat have seen the league's biggest jump in clutch winning percentage. After three wins by a total of five points last week, they're a league-best 11-3 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, having gone 21-24 in clutch games last season. Of course, Butler hasn't shot particularly well - 11-for-34 overall, 3-for-14 from 3-point range, 70% from the line - in the clutch. Two offensive rebounds led to Goran Dragic's game-winner against the Pacers on Friday and Butler hit the game-deciding free throw in a wild win over the Sixers on Saturday. (Though he hasn't shot well, his ability to get to the line has been critical.) With the weekend wins (in which they scored more than 114 points per 100 possessions against two top-10 defenses), the Heat are in second place in the East and have the best record (5-2) in games played between the top six. They'll open their 2020 schedule with a visit from the fourth-place Raptors on Thursday.
Week 11: @ WAS, vs. TOR, @ ORL, vs. POR
Last Week: 3
Pace: 99.4 (24) OffRtg: 111.8 (4) DefRtg: 104.3 (4) NetRtg: +7.5 (3)
The tantalizing run of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum - a combined 52.4 points per game on an effective field goal percentage of 61% over a five-game winning streak - hit a speed bump against Toronto on Saturday, when the two combined for just 29 points on 8-for-19 shooting. The Celtics still outscored the Raptors, 92-90, on initial opportunities thanks to a big advantage at the free throw line. But they were outrebounded 53-31 and outscored, 23-5, on second-chance points as the Raptors exacted some revenge for the Christmas Day thrashing the Celtics handed them. Rebounding hasn't been a huge issue for the Celtics, but their everybody's-healthy starting lineup - Kemba Walker, Brown, Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis - ranks 39th in rebounding percentage (46.0%) among 51 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together. The Cs will play eight of their next nine games against teams that currently have losing records, and they're 14-1 against that group thus far.
Week 11: @ CHA, vs. ATL, @ CHI
Last Week: 4
Pace: 103.6 (5) OffRtg: 111.0 (7) DefRtg: 104.7 (7) NetRtg: +6.3 (5)
The Clippers made their Christmas Day statement and improved to 2-0 against the Lakers by holding their arena-mates to just five points (on 2-for-11 shooting) over the final 6 1/2 minutes, with Patrick Beverley coming up with the game-sealing stop against LeBron James. But their defense has otherwise been shaky, even with both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the floor, as they've lost four of their last seven games. Leonard's offense is coming along. He has an effective field goal percentage of 56% over his last eight games (up from 48% over his first 17), even though he still isn't getting to the basket much. He has finished better at the rim and shot much better from beyond the arc. His 3-pointer to tie the Christmas game with 5:15 left looked pretty familiar, and he continues to make plays for others at a much higher rate than in any of his previous eight seasons.
Week 11: @ SAC, vs. DET, vs. MEM, vs. NYK
Last Week: 2 ↓
Pace: 100.2 (18) OffRtg: 111.7 (5) DefRtg: 104.8 (8) NetRtg: +6.9 (4)
The Lakers led the Clippers by 15 points in the third quarter and by seven with less than seven minutes to go on Christmas. But they couldn't close the deal, shooting 1-for-9 over the final 4:50 as their losing streak extended to four games. It will be another four weeks before they get another shot at the Clips, but they broke out of their offensive slump (less than 105 points scored per 100 possessions over a five-game stretch) in Portland on Saturday, and then shut down the Mavs' No. 1 offense (for the second time this season) on Sunday. LeBron James has shot just 30% from outside the paint over his last five games and Sunday was the first time in 15 years (and just the fourth time in his career) that he didn't have a single bucket in the paint. But his 10.8 assists per game have came with a career-best assist/turnover ratio of 2.87. He's had 39 assists and just five turnovers over the last three games. The Lakers went 9-5 against what was the league's toughest December schedule going in, and they'll begin 2020 with four games against teams with losing records.
Week 11: vs. PHX, vs. NOP, vs. DET
Last Week: 8 ↑
Pace: 97.7 (29) OffRtg: 109.8 (12) DefRtg: 104.5 (5) NetRtg: +5.3 (6)
The Nuggets are the one team for which injuries can be a good thing, because they have 12 guys who need to play. And with both Gary Harris and Paul Millsap out against Sacramento on Sunday, Michael Porter Jr., who's been in the rotation (though on the edge of it) for a few weeks, got his first career start and scored 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting. The Nuggets have won nine of their last 10 games, with Nikola Jokic's 22.4 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 63%) and 7.8 assists leading what has been the league's most efficient offense (117.3 points scored per 100 possessions) over that stretch. They've played the fewest games (they're 2-2) within the top six teams in the West, but will face the Rockets three times in the next four weeks. The first of those three meetings (they did beat the Rockets in November) is Tuesday and the start of the Nuggets' longest road trip of the season (five games over nine days). They've had the league's most home-heavy schedule - 19 of 32 at the Pepsi Center - to date.
Week 11: @ HOU, @ IND, @ WAS
Last Week: 7
Pace: 100.0 (19) OffRtg: 109.1 (14) DefRtg: 104.6 (6) NetRtg: +4.5 (8)
The Sixers continue to show us just how good they can be when they're at their best ... and how tough it can be for them to get to that level consistently. They thumped the Bucks on Christmas, handing the league's No. 1 defense its worst defensive game (121 points on 97 possessions) of the season. And then they lost two straight in Florida. In Orlando on Friday, Joel Embiid took zero shots in the restricted area for the first time in his career and the Sixers were held under a point per possession. In Miami on Saturday, the Sixers' starting lineup was outscored by 15 points in its 10.5 minutes and two last-minute turnovers allowed the Heat to get to their favorite time (overtime). The Sixers are 7-10 on the road, where they'll be for much of the next six weeks, and the Miami loss was the first of eight straight games against teams that currently have winning records. They're 8-8 against that group, 7-2 at home and 1-6 on the road, thus far.
Week 11: @ IND, @ HOU
Last Week: 13 ↑
Pace: 100.4 (17) OffRtg: 107.9 (17) DefRtg: 106.0 (10) NetRtg: +1.8 (12)
It used to be that the Jazz needed a top-three defense to compete with the best teams in the Western Conference. But they're currently just a game in the loss column out of third place, ranking 10th in defensive efficiency. They rank 19th defensively (110.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) in December, but have won seven of their last eight games, a stretch highlighted by their win over the Clippers (LA's worst defensive game in which it's had both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard) on Saturday. Donovan Mitchell has averaged 27 points on 52% shooting over the eight games and has seemingly come up with a flurry of buckets whenever the Jazz have needed one. But the biggest key to their success might be the resurrection of Joe Ingles, who has shot 55% from 3-point range (the best mark among 119 players with at least 50 attempts) in December. The Jazz starting lineup (the one without Mike Conley) has outscored its opponents by amazing 39.1 points per 100 possessions in 139 minutes over the last seven games.
Week 11: vs. DET, @ CHI, @ ORL
Last Week: 11 ↑
Pace: 99.7 (20) OffRtg: 108.2 (16) DefRtg: 105.1 (9) NetRtg: +3.1 (11)
The Pacers are 14-3 (with five straight wins) at home, where they picked up a big, overtime victory over Toronto on Monday. Aaron Holiday, starting for the injured Malcolm Brogdon, scored or assisted on the Pacers' last 12 points of regulation and hit two big threes in OT. He followed that up with 42 total points in Miami and New Orleans over the weekend, but he missed the game-winner on Friday and his teammates shot 2-for-22 from 3-point range on Saturday as the Pacers fell to 7-9 (with three straight losses - three of their five worst defensive games of the season) on the road. The Heat's 16 3-pointers were the most the Pacers had allowed all season, and then the Pelicans made 18. Indy remains one of three teams that rank in the top 10 in both opponent 3-point percentage (34.1%, eighth) and the (lowest) percentage of their opponents' shots that have come from 3-point range (36.7%, ninth). Victor Oladipo could be a month away and Brogdon could be back this week as two tough opponents test that home winning streak.
Week 11: vs. PHI, vs. DEN, @ ATL
Last Week: 9 ↓
Pace: 101.2 (14) OffRtg: 109.0 (15) DefRtg: 104.0 (2) NetRtg: +5.0 (7)
The absence of three of the Raptors' top seven guys has seemingly begun to take its toll. After winning their first two games without Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, the champs have lost three of their last four, allowing the Pacers and Celtics to score more than 115 points per 100 possessions on Monday and Wednesday, and coming empty on offense (17 points on 20 possessions) in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma City on Sunday. They had leads in the final minute of regulation in two of the three losses and their win in Boston on Saturday was their best road win since early November, but Kyle Lowry (averaging 25.3 points and 8.0 assists over the last six games) and janky defenses may only be able to take them so far while they wait on Siakam and company to return. After splitting with the Celtics last week, the Raps are 2-6 in games played between the top six teams in the East, with a visit to Miami on Thursday.
Week 11: vs. CLE, @ MIA, @ BKN
Last Week: 10 ↓
Pace: 100.6 (16) OffRtg: 115.3 (1) DefRtg: 107.7 (15) NetRtg: +7.6 (2)
In 32 games, the Mavs' No. 1 offense has been held under a point per possession three times, once against the Clippers and now twice against the Lakers. In all three games, the Mavs have shot less than 40%, but also committed 19 turnovers or more. After ranking 21st in turnover percentage (14.2 per 100 possessions) last season, the Mavs have the league's lowest turnover percentage (13.0 per 100) this season, a big reason why they have the league's No. 1 offense while being its most jump-shootingest team, with a league-high 57% of their shots coming from outside the paint. Luka Doncic isn't immune to some sloppy play (his individual turnover rate - 11.8 per 100 possessions used - is down only a tick from last season), and he had six live-ball turnovers in L.A. on Sunday, while also having one of his worst shooting games of the season and taking a nasty fall late in the first half. The Mavs have already played the Lakers three times, and the fourth meeting (along with three other games against top-10 defenses) will come on a six-game homestand (their longest of the season) that begins Thursday.
Week 11: @ OKC, vs. BKN, vs. CHA
Last Week: 6 ↓
Pace: 104.1 (3) OffRtg: 113.6 (3) DefRtg: 109.2 (16) NetRtg: +4.3 (10)
Remember Eric Gordon? He's back after missing 22 games recovering from knee surgery, and he scored 20 points in less than 23 minutes in New Orleans on Sunday. But with Gordon's return, James Harden (dealing with a sprained toe) missed a game for the first time this season, with Clint Capela (heel contusion) also on the shelf. Their most recent game with Harden was the Rockets' third best defensive game of the season (98 points allowed on 103 Brooklyn possessions) and was won with some strong small-ball defense (with P.J. Tucker at center) down the stretch. Those Tucker-at-center minutes have generally not been good defensively and the Pelicans scored 33 points on 25 possessions against Tucker at the five on Sunday. Overall, the Rockets' first game without Harden was their worst defensive game (127 points allowed on 99 possessions) since their 159-158 barn-burner in Washington in late October. Whether or not Harden is back this week (the Rockets play Tuesday and Friday), small-ball would be a bold move against these two particular opponents.
Week 11: vs. DEN, vs. PHI
Last Week: 12 ↓
Pace: 99.5 (22) OffRtg: 107.8 (18) DefRtg: 107.0 (13) NetRtg: +0.8 (13)
The Thunder continue to take games down to the wire. They lead the league with 24 games having been within five points in the last five minutes, and they've won the last five of those, with their three guards - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder - combining to shoot 24-for-37 (65%) on clutch shots over that stretch. Paul leads the league with 84 total points scored in the clutch and Gilgeous-Alexander got his first career bucket to tie or take the lead in the final minute on Sunday, hitting a runner off the glass to beat Toronto on Sunday. That capped his third 32-point performance in the last five games, with only Montrezl Harrell averaging more points in the paint over the last 10 days. The Thunder have won six of their last seven games overall and have December wins over the Jazz, Clippers and Raptors.
Week 11: vs. DAL, @ SAS, @ CLE
Last Week: 16 ↑
Pace: 101.9 (12) OffRtg: 109.3 (13) DefRtg: 110.9 (20) NetRtg: -1.6 (18)
Team Mid-Range has shot better than 50% from between the paint and the 3-point in five straight games (with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan a combined 38-for-61 over that stretch), having done so in just four of their 26 games prior to that. They still lost two of those last five games, getting outscored 74-40 in the paint by the Clippers and 48-24 from 3-point range by the Mavs. Shooting better than 50% from mid-range is plainly unsustainable, and an increase in 3-point attempts (Aldridge has attempted 13 over the last three games) has been more at the expense of shots at the rim than than mid-range jumpers. But the Spurs have shown improvement on the other end of the floor - they rank sixth defensively over the last four weeks - and are just percentage points out of a playoff spot, with a big game against the seventh-place Thunder on Thursday.
Week 11: vs. GSW, vs. OKC, @ MIL
Last Week: 14 ↓
Pace: 102.6 (10) OffRtg: 106.5 (22) DefRtg: 107.1 (14) NetRtg: -0.6 (15)
It remains exceedingly unclear when the Nets will be getting Kyrie Irving back. And after scoring 109.3 points per 100 possessions over their first 13 games without him, they've scored just 98.4 over the last seven. They've been the league's worst 3-point shooting team in December (30.4%, including 28.0% among Nets not named Joe Harris) and their run of paint dominance - eight straight games in which they outscored their opponents by at least 10 points in the paint - came to an end when they scored just 14 points in the paint against the Knicks on Thursday. They made 13 threes in what was the Knicks' first win within the Atlantic Division, but the Nets' eight twos were the fewest in the shot clock era and 14 fewer than Jay-Z's 22 in 1996. Their game in Dallas on Thursday is the start of a stretch where they're playing nine of 11 against teams that currently have winning records. For now, they're part of that group, but they're just 4-8 in games within it.
Week 11: @ MIN, @ DAL, vs. TOR
Last Week: 15 ↓
Pace: 102.1 (11) OffRtg: 109.9 (11) DefRtg: 111.1 (21) NetRtg: -1.2 (17)
The Blazers have been on a week-by-week roller coaster since they added Carmelo Anthony six weeks ago. A 4-0 Week 9 has been followed by an 0-3 Week 10, and while schedule strength has a lot to do with the swing, the current losing streak began with a loss at home to New Orleans in which the Blazers shot 4-for-29 from 3-point range. They lost another guy to injury on Saturday when Skal Labissiere left in the first quarter of their loss to the Lakers with a left knee injury. Labissiere (whose status going forward is still unknown) was only a spot starter against a big frontline, but he's provided valuable energy off the bench. The Blazers have been at their best on defense (106.4 points allowed per 100 possessions) and on the glass (rebounding percentage of 50.5%) with Labissiere on the floor, and their best two-man combination in regard to on-court point differential per 100 possessions (plus-7.7) has been Labissiere and Damian Lillard. Amazingly, with the three-game losing streak, the Blazers are still in eighth place in the West. But they have to take advantage of the next three games, because their game in Miami on Sunday is the start of a stretch where they're playing 14 of 18 against teams that currently have winning records.
Week 11: vs. PHX, @ NYK, @ WAS, @ MIA
Last Week: 19 ↑
Pace: 98.6 (27) OffRtg: 104.5 (26) DefRtg: 106.6 (12) NetRtg: -2.1 (20)
The Magic have the best record (12-3) in games played between the 16 teams currently under .500. And after escaping with a one-point win (after leading by 11 w/ a minute and a half remaining), they're 2-0 against the Sixers, having held Philly to 97 points on 102 possessions in each of their two meetings. But with their loss in Milwaukee on Saturday, the Magic are 0-15 against the other 13 teams that currently have winning records. Evan Fournier is having a strong season; His effective field goal percentage (57.5%) is a career-best mark and ranks third among 53 players with a usage rate of 24% or higher. But the Magic's starting lineup remains mediocre (really, it's a plus-2 in its 240 minutes) and their bench remains inconsistent. Terrence Ross totaled 43 points in wins over the Bulls and Sixers last week, but has averaged just 8.5 points on 34% shooting over their last four losses. With games against the Hawks, Wizards, Heat and Jazz, it's looking like a 2-2 week.
Week 11: vs. ATL, @ WAS, vs. MIA, vs. UTA
Last Week: 18
Pace: 101.5 (13) OffRtg: 103.9 (28) DefRtg: 104.2 (3) NetRtg: -0.4 (14)
Kris Dunn remains one of the league's worst 3-point shooters - his 16-for-69 (23%) ranks 234th among 239 players with at least 50 3-point attempts - and might actually benefit from getting back to the mid-range, from where he shot 41% over the last two seasons and from where he's taken only nine (4%) of his 225 shots this season. But there's no denying the impact that Dunn makes defensively. Since his move into the starting lineup (the day after Thanksgiving), the Bulls have climbed from 13th to third in defensive efficiency. They seem to have figured some things out after a disappointing first six weeks of the season, and while the offense remains a work in progress, the last six games (107.9 points scored per 100 possessions) have been their stretch of the season on that end of the floor. But we'll see how much of their improvement has been schedule-aided. Six of their 16 games since Dunn's move into the starting lineup have come against bottom-10 offenses, and they won't face another of those until Jan. 18, with six games against top-10 offenses between now and then. The Bulls didn't get the win they really needed (in Orlando on Monday) last week, and their next four games are against teams with a cumulative record of 92-36.
Week 11: vs. MIL, vs. UTA, vs. BOS
Last Week: 21 ↑
Pace: 103.4 (6) OffRtg: 107.2 (20) DefRtg: 112.0 (25) NetRtg: -4.8 (25)
The Grizzlies certainly aren't consistent. They followed up a 30-point loss to the Spurs with a comfortable win on Thursday over the Thunder, who are otherwise 6-0 over the last two weeks. And over the weekend, they followed a loss in Denver (in which they lost the first quarter by 15 points and never trailed) with a win over Charlotte (in which they won the first quarter by 11 and never trailed after the first 30 seconds). But when you look at the season at a larger scale, there have been clear signs of progress, especially on offense, where the Grizz have increasingly been more efficient, from 102.3 points scored per 100 possessions over their first 10 games to 113.4 over their last 10. That last stretch has come with five guys (including two 20 year olds and two 23 year olds) averaging double-figures. The Grizz have climbed out of the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency for the first time this season and now rank as the league's sixth most improved offense, having scored 1.6 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season.
Week 11: @ SAC, @ LAC, @ PHX
Last Week: 26 ↑
Pace: 103.1 (8) OffRtg: 107.7 (19) DefRtg: 112.0 (26) NetRtg: -4.3 (23)
The Pelicans, who had a 13-game losing streak just 12 days ago, have won four straight games, beating the Blazers (who had a four-game winning streak of their own) and three teams with winning records. They've either been inspired by their rookie dunking before games or sparked by a lineup change. The offensively challenged Kenrich Williams (4-for-35 over his previous seven games) was replaced in the starting lineup by Lonzo Ball, the Pels' offense has been more efficient with each ensuing game, and as they've shot 42% from 3-point range over the winning streak, Ball has been their most prolific shooter from deep, hitting a career-high seven threes against the shorthanded Rockets on Sunday. The Pels had lost the first 19 games they trailed by double-digits, but came back from 10 down to beat Portland on Monday and from 13 down to win the Holiday Bowl on Saturday. Their reward is four days off before they play a back-to-back in California on Friday and Saturday.
Week 11: @ LAL, @ SAC
Last Week: 20 ↓
Pace: 99.3 (25) OffRtg: 110.1 (9) DefRtg: 111.8 (22) NetRtg: -1.7 (19)
The Pistons ended a five-game losing streak, had their best offensive game of the season (132 points on 99 possessions, eight guys in double-figures, 32 assists on 46 field goals), and got their first win (in three tries) over the Wizards on Thursday. But Blake Griffin continues to struggle (he ranks 181st in effective field goal percentage - 40.6% - among 183 players with at least 200 field goal attempts), Luke Kennard is out with a knee issue, and the Detroit defense isn't getting any better. Only the Wizards and Cavs have been worse on that end of the floor since Thanksgiving, and the Pistons just began a six-game trip (their longest of the season) by allowing the Spurs to shoot 57%, with a season-high 18 3-pointers. They're 11-5 when their opponents have made fewer than twelve threes and 1-16 when their opponents have made 12 or more.
Week 11: @ UTA, @ LAC, @ GSW, @ LAL
Last Week: 23 ↑
Pace: 99.4 (23) OffRtg: 104.9 (25) DefRtg: 113.4 (28) NetRtg: -8.5 (29)
With seven guys averaging double-figures, the Cavs had a top-10 offense over an eight-game stretch through their loss in Boston, in which Kevin Love hit a season-high six 3-pointers, on Friday. Love sat out on Saturday, when they shot 4-for-20 from 3-point range and committed 29 turnovers in Minnesota. But they still won, because Darius Garland had the best shooting game (8-for-11) of his career and, playing without Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves' offense was even uglier than that of the visitors. The Cavs still don't have anybody averaging three assists per game, but Love (averaging 4.2 over his last six) is getting close. They're are 9-5 (with five straight wins) in games played between the 16 teams currently under .500. Three of those teams - the Hornets, Wolves and Pistons - will be in Cleveland over a four-game homestand that begins Thursday.
Week 11: @ TOR, vs. CHA, vs. OKC, vs. MIN
Last Week: 22 ↓
Pace: 102.9 (9) OffRtg: 109.9 (10) DefRtg: 110.7 (19) NetRtg: -0.8 (16)
Devin Booker has missed 24 of his last 26 3-point attempts, maybe still feeling the effects of a forearm injury that knocked him out for three games earlier this month. The Suns' offense has obviously suffered as a result, and it ranked 24th (104.8 points scored per 100 possessions) over an eight-game losing streak that continued with brutal losses to Denver (in a game they led by eight with less than four minutes to go) and Golden State (in a game they led by 10 with 7:15 left) last week. Booker still scored 66 points (shooting 26-for-37 inside the arc) over the weekend, and he added 10 assists to help the Suns put an end to the streak with a two-point escape (after blowing a 14-point, second-half lead and allowing Harrison Barnes to get a wide-open look for the win) in Sacramento on Saturday. They're still just a game in the loss column behind the eighth-place Blazers, who they'll visit on Monday, and the schedule will continue to provide them an opportunity to get back on their feet over the next few weeks.
Week 11: @ POR, @ LAL, vs. NYK, vs. MEM
Last Week: 28 ↑
Pace: 99.2 (26) OffRtg: 103.8 (29) DefRtg: 111.9 (24) NetRtg: -8.1 (28)
It took Mike Miller 11 games to get more wins (five) than David Fizdale got in 22 games this season. Of course, Fizdale got less than four games of a healthy Elfrid Payton, whose move back into the starting lineup has clearly helped the Knicks and Julius Randle, especially. The Knicks' highest-paid player has been assisted on 69% of his buckets in the four games since the lineup change (with 15 of the 31 assists coming from Payton), up from just 38% prior to that. Randle has averaged 32.7 points on an effective field goal percentage of 61% over the last three, and the Knicks have won two straight rock fights, holding their opponent under a point per possession for the first two times this season. They've outscored their opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions with Payton and Randle both on the floor, the best mark among their two-man combinations that have played at least 200 minutes together.
Week 11: vs. POR, @ PHX, @ LAC
Last Week: 24 ↓
Pace: 97.9 (28) OffRtg: 105.8 (24) DefRtg: 112.6 (27) NetRtg: -6.7 (26)
The Hornets are the only team that hasn't led a game by at least 20 points. But, after falling into a hole they couldn't climb out of in Memphis on Sunday, they've trailed 13 games (including six of their last 11) by 20 or more. Devonte' Graham has shot just 27% (including 4-for-30 between the restricted area and 3-point range) over the last eight games and while P.J. Washington has continued to show promise upon his return from a finger injury, the rookie couldn't convert at the line with a chance to send the Hornets' game against the Thunder (in which they missed their first 18 3-point attempts) to double-overtime on Friday. The Hornets have lost five straight and their game in Cleveland will be their best chance at a win in the next few weeks.
Week 11: vs. BOS, @ CLE, @ DAL
Last Week: 17 ↓
Pace: 97.6 (30) OffRtg: 106.9 (21) DefRtg: 109.5 (17) NetRtg: -2.6 (21)
If you count Jan. 1, 2000 - Dec. 31, 2019 as "the decade," then the Kings have been the worst team of "the decade," with its worst record (285-521 with one more game to go) and zero playoff appearances. If they don't beat the Clippers on Tuesday, they'll appropriately end "the decade" on an eight-game losing streak. They've had some hard luck in regard to both injuries (De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley both went down again in what was just the third game they started together) and late game execution (2-for-15 on clutch threes over the last nine days), and they will begin the 20s with four games against teams that are currently at least eight games under .500. But the losing streak already includes losses to the Hornets, Grizzlies, Wolves and Suns, allowing the last two to end their own losing streaks.
Week 11: vs. LAC, vs. MEM, vs. NOP
Last Week: 29 ↑
Pace: 100.9 (15) OffRtg: 104.0 (27) DefRtg: 111.8 (23) NetRtg: -7.8 (27)
D'Angelo Russell has scored 25 points or more in five of the last six games, and he's been getting help from Alec Burks (25 against Minnesota on Monday) and Damion Lee (averaging 18.0 over the last five). But the other end of the floor was the biggest reason the Warriors won four straight; They held all four opponents to a point per possession or less, obviously their best stretch of defense this season. And the win streak came to an end, even though Russell scored 15 points on their first six possessions and 30 (on 11-for-15 shooting) in the first half, because the league's No. 1 offense had its most efficient game of the last five weeks on the other end of the floor. The Mavs have made more than 20 3-pointers five times in franchise history, and three of the five have come against the Warriors in the last 10 months, with the 24 they made on Saturday being a franchise record. The 38.5% that the Warriors have allowed their opponents to shoot from beyond the arc would be the highest opponent 3-point percentage of the last seven seasons.
Week 11: @ SAS, @ MIN, vs. DET
Last Week: 25 ↓
Pace: 104.2 (2) OffRtg: 111.5 (6) DefRtg: 116.2 (30) NetRtg: -4.6 (24)
Through Friday, the Wizards had played the league's most road-heavy schedule, with only 11 of their first 30 games at Capital One Arena. On Saturday, they began one of their two six-game homestands with a game against the Knicks. But as they got Isaiah Thomas back from his two-game suspension, Bradley Beal (who had shot 9-for-45 from 3-point range over his previous five games) joined the long list of injured Wiz, and they shot just 34% against a bottom-10 defense. The rest of the homestand is tougher, but Beal's injury isn't considered a long-term thing and all the injuries (along with Thomas' suspension) have provided an opportunity for Gary Payton II, who signed a contract on Monday and averaged 11.7 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 66%), 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.3 steals over his first three games. Perhaps the son of a former Defensive Player of the Year can help the league's worst defense.
Week 11: vs. MIA, vs. ORL, vs. POR, vs. DEN
Last Week: 27 ↓
Pace: 103.6 (4) OffRtg: 105.9 (23) DefRtg: 109.5 (18) NetRtg: -3.6 (22)
The Wolves got their first December win (in double-overtime) on Thursday, because the Kings' late-game offense was more brutal than their own. Sacramento scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and the two teams combined to score 36 points on 50 clutch possessions, missing all 10 shots they took for the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or one of the two overtimes. Karl-Anthony Towns remains out with a knee sprain and the Wolves' offense took another step backward with Andrew Wiggins (illness) missing their loss to Cleveland on Saturday. Because they have an impossibly anemic set of perimeter players behind Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng has been the Wolves' second leading scorer (13.8 points per game) over the six games that Towns has missed. Their game against the Warriors on Thursday begins a stretch of four straight against bottom-10 defenses, but they've lost to all four of those teams - Golden State, Cleveland, Memphis and Portland - in the last month.
Week 11: vs. BKN, @ MIL, vs. GSW, @ CLE
Last Week: 30
Pace: 103.3 (7) OffRtg: 102.9 (30) DefRtg: 113.5 (29) NetRtg: -10.6 (30)
The 6-27 Hawks have outscored their opponents with Trae Young and John Collins on the floor together. But through 33 games, their two young stars have been on the floor together for just 122 minutes. Less than two games into Collins' return from a 25-game suspension, the Hawks lost Young to a right ankle injury. Their last two games - one with Young for only 15 minutes against the league's No. 1 defense and one without Young against the league's third-ranked defense - have been two of the four worst offensive performances for any team this season. They've lost 10 straight games and have scored less than a point per possession in six of the last nine. If this team can't score, it can't win, and the Milwaukee and Chicago losses were just the start of a stretch in which they're playing five of six games against defenses that rank in the top 10.
Week 11: @ ORL, @ BOS, vs. IND