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NBA power rankings: Warriors, Suns, Nets vie for No. 1 spot


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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The Suns won 109-104. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)

AP

* Through games played 11/25

1. Golden State Warriors (16-2)

Last week: 1

The Warriors are waltzing through their schedule with ease, winning by double digits almost every night. They’ve won five in a row and 12 of 13 after beating the 76ers 116-96 on Wednesday. Stephen Curry is building an early case for his third MVP award, averaging 28.2 points, 8.6 assists and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 41.8% from 3-point range. Klay Thompson should return in the coming weeks.

2. Phoenix Suns (15-3)

Last week: 2

The Suns have won 14 in a row since going 1-3 to start the season. They haven’t lost since Harrison Barnes made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat them on Oct. 27. The Suns held on to beat the Cavaliers 120-115 on Wednesday. They have a series of big games coming up against the Knicks, Nets and Warriors.

3. Brooklyn Nets (14-5)

Last week: 5

Kevin Durant and James Harden have helped the Nets win seven of eight and 12 of 14 dating back to Oct. 29. The schedule has been a little soft with recent games against the Magic (2), Pelicans, Thunder and Cavaliers (2), but the Nets have a marquee matchup against the Suns on Saturday and another against the Bulls on Dec. 4.

4. Utah Jazz (12-6)

Last week: 7

The Jazz has won four of five since suffering back-to-back losses to the Pacers and Heat earlier this month. Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay are sharing the scoring load. Rudy Gobert is dominating the boards. Up next: A back-to-back set against the Pelicans on Friday and Saturday.

5. Miami Heat (12-7)

Last week: 6

The Heat has lost two of its last three games, taking a tough 103-100 loss to the Wizards on Saturday before falling 113-101 to the Timberwolves on Wednesday. A bigtime showdown with the Bulls awaits on Saturday with another tough game against the Nuggets on Monday. Jimmy Butler is averaging 23.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists.

6. Chicago Bulls (12-7)

Last week: 4

The Bulls have hit a bit of a skid after going 10-4 to start the season. They have lost three of their last five, including back-to-back losses to the Pacers (ugh) on Monday and the Rockets (gasp) on Wednesday. The Bulls will see the Magic on Friday before a tough series of games against the Heat, Hornets, Knicks and Nets.

7. Charlotte Hornets (12-8)

Last week: 12

The Hornets vault five spots this week after winning seven of eight, including victories over the Grizzlies, Knicks, Warriors, Wizards (2) and Pacers. LaMelo Ball is averaging 19.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. Terry Rozier had 32 points against the Wizards on Monday and 27 against the Magic on Wednesday.

8. Washington Wizards (11-7)

Last week: 3

The Wizards take a tumble in this week’s rankings after losing four of their last five games, including an unsightly 127-102 loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday in the first game of a four-game road trip. The Wizards will visit the Thunder on Friday, Mavericks on Saturday and Spurs on Monday.

9. Boston Celtics (10-9)

Last week: 17

The Celtics had won three in a row and four of their last five before suffering a 123-104 loss to the Nets on Wednesday. Jayson Tatum was held to 15 points on 4-of-16 shooting vs. Brooklyn, but he averaged 33.5 ppg in the four previous games.

10. Dallas Mavericks (10-7)

Last week: 9

The Mavericks lost three in a row without Luka Doncic, dropping back-to-back games to the Suns and the first game of a back-to-back set against the Clippers. Doncic returned to post 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a 112-104 win over the Clippers on Tuesday.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (10-9)

Last week: 16

The Blazers had won four in a row before suffering a 125-121 loss to the Kings on Wednesday. Damian Lillard had 32 points and 10 assists, but Portland lost on the second night of a back-to-back after blowing out the Nuggets on Tuesday. The Blazers are 9-1 at home but just 1-8 on the road this season.

12. Denver Nuggets (9-9)

Last week: 8

A wrist injury caused reigning MVP Nikola Jokic to miss the past three games for the slumping Nuggets, who have lost five in a row to fall to .500. Denver will play the Bucks at home on Friday before going on the road to face the Heat, Magic, Knicks, Bulls, Pelicans and Spurs (twice).

13. Los Angeles Clippers (10-8)

Last week: 10

The Clippers have lost three of their last four, dropping games against the Grizzlies and Pelicans before losing the second game of a back-to-back set against the Mavericks. Paul George is trying to do it all, but he had off nights in the losses to the Pelicans and Mavs, going 8 of 26 and 7 of 23 from the field.

14. Milwaukee Bucks (11-8)

Last week: 19

The Bucks jump five spots this week after winning five in a row and seven of 10, including a 114-93 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had 47 points against the Lakers last week. He followed that with 32 points and 20 rebounds in a win over the Magic.

15. Atlanta Hawks (10-9)

Last week: 20

The Hawks have gotten hot, winning six in a row after enduring a six-game losing streak in early November. Trae Young is coming off back-to-back 30-point games against the Thunder and Spurs after pouring in 42 points in a Nov. 14 victory over the Bucks.

16. New York Knicks (10-8)

Last week: 15

The Knicks have lost four of seven going into Friday’s showdown with the Suns. The schedule won’t get much easier after that with upcoming games against the Hawks, Nets, Bulls and Nuggets.

17. Philadelphia 76ers (10-9)

Last week: 11

The 76ers managed to beat the Kings on Monday despite the absences of Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Danny Green. The past couple of weeks have been a struggle for Philadelphia, which has lost seven of nine since Embiid tested positive for COVID-19. He could return Saturday vs. the Timberwolves.

18. Memphis Grizzlies (9-9)

Last week: 18

The Grizzlies are coming off a 126-113 loss to the Raptors after knocking off the Jazz 119-118 on Monday. Memphis will have a tough game against the Hawks on Friday before playing the Kings, Raptors and Thunder next week. The Grizzlies haven’t been able to win more than two in a row. Maybe they can change that.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (10-10)

Last week: 14

LeBron James returned from a one-game suspension to score 39 points in a 124-116 overtime win over Indiana on Wednesday and got a couple of Pacers fans ejected while he was at it. The Lakers had lost four of their last five. They will play the Kings on Friday, Pistons on Sunday and Kings again Tuesday, so maybe they can generate some momentum.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-9)

Last week: 24

The Timberwolves looked like they were headed down another dark road after going 4-9 to start the season, but they’ve won five in a row to get back to .500. Three of those wins came against the Kings, Spurs and Pelicans, but there was also a 43-point victory over the Grizzlies and Wednesday’s 113-101 win over the Heat on a night when Anthony Edwards poured in 33 points.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-10)

Last week: 13

The Cavs were sitting pretty at 9-5 less than two weeks ago, but now they’ve lost five in a row. Cleveland has struggled during a difficult stretch in the schedule with rookie Evan Mobley sidelined due to a right elbow sprain. Mobley is progressing in his recovery but the timetable for his return is still unclear.

22. Toronto Raptors (9-10)

Last week: 22

The Raptors struggled over the past couple of weeks, losing six of seven at one point, but they’ve won two of their last three with victories over the Kings and Grizzlies. They won those games despite the absence of leading scorer OG Anunoby, who has been out since Nov. 15 with a left hip pointer.

23. Indiana Pacers (8-12)

Last week: 23

The Pacers picked up back-to-back wins over the Pelicans and Bulls before losing to the Lakers in overtime Wednesday. Domantas Sabonis has been outstanding, averaging 17.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Malcolm Brogdon has been good, too, averaging 21.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

24. Sacramento Kings (7-12)

Last week: 25

The Kings desperately needed a win after losing eight of nine during a stretch that resulted in the firing of coach Luke Walton. They got one on Wednesday, beating the Blazers 125-121 despite starting the game without Richaun Holmes (eye) and finishing it without De’Aaron Fox (ejected) and Harrison Barnes (foot).

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-12)

Last week: 21

OKC put together a four-game winning streak in early November, but since then the Thunder has lost six of seven. The current four-game losing streak includes losses to the Bucks, Celtics, Hawks and Jazz with another difficult game against the Wizards on Friday.

26. San Antonio Spurs (4-13)

Last week: 26

The Spurs lost their sixth in a row Wednesday, falling 124-106 to the Hawks. The road ahead looks daunting with upcoming games against the Celtics, Wizards, Blazers, Warriors, Suns, Knicks and Nuggets (2) before the Pelicans come to town on Dec. 12.

27. Detroit Pistons (4-14)

Last week: 27

Brutal stretch here for the Pistons, who have lost four in a row to the Warriors, Lakers, Heat and Bucks with upcoming games against the Clippers, Lakers, Blazers and Suns.

28. Orlando Magic (4-15)

Last week: 28

The Magic has been a mess, losing four in a row and seven of eight. Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr. have been solid, but Jalen Suggs is shooting 33.0%.

29. New Orleans Pelicans (4-16)

Last week: 29

Zion Williamson could be nearing a return from offseason foot surgery. The Pelicans could certainly use him. Somehow they smashed the Wizards 127-102 on Wednesday, but they had lost four of five and 12 of 15.

30. Houston Rockets (2-16)

Last week: 30

Christian Wood had 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to help the Rockets snap their 15-game losing streak with a surprising 118-113 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.

Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.





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