NBA Energy Rankings: Kevin Durant Return Powers Nets’ Rise; Lakers, Celtics Fall; Knicks Simply Preserve Profitable – NewsOpener



The Clippers simply carry on rolling, successful all three video games this week with out Kawhi Leonard, and one over the Grizzlies with a beginning lineup of Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris, Amir Coffey and Ivica Zubac — yeah, issues are clicking for L.A. Paul George stored up his excellent play, averaging 33 factors and 12.5 rebounds in two video games this week, whereas Morris has stepped up in Leonard’s absence, placing up 20.5 factors in his two video games this week on 43 % 3-point taking pictures. The Clippers have gained 11 of their final 12, and are three video games again of the Jazz within the loss column for the West’s prime seed. — 43-19


Kevin Durant is again (hopefully for good this time), and he scored 33 factors in 28 minutes in a giant win over the Suns on Sunday to cap off a 3-1 week for Brooklyn. James Harden stays out, however Kyrie Irving averaged 27.3 factors, 9.8 assists and 7 rebounds whereas taking pictures 40 % from 3-point vary this week, whereas Joe Harris added 17 factors per sport on 57 % 3-point taking pictures. The Nets are again within the No. 1 spot within the East, and will stay there if Durant stays on the ground. 2 41-20


The Suns went 2-2 within the first 4 video games of their brutal five-game highway journey, beating the Bucks and Sixers earlier than shedding to the Celtics and Nets. Chris Paul averaged 21.5 factors and 9.3 assists per sport this week on 50 % 3-point taking pictures, whereas Devin Booker put up 23.5 factors per sport. Jae Crowder was out for each of the losses this week, which helps illustrate his significance to this workforce on each ends of the ground. 1 42-18


A clunker in opposition to the Timberwolves on Saturday prevented a 3-0 week for the Jazz, who beat the Lakers and Rockets with out the providers of Donovan Mitchell as he continues to rehab his ankle harm. Bojan Bogdanovic stored up his scorching taking pictures, making 44 % of his 3-pointers this week whereas averaging 21 factors per sport. Jordan Clarkson has additionally taken on the additional scoring accountability with Mitchell out, placing up almost 20 factors per sport this week on 39 % 3-point taking pictures. 1 44-16


The Nuggets have admirably responded to Jamal Murray’s devastating harm, successful 5 of six video games, together with three of 4 this week. Nikola Jokic has been extra aggressive in search of his personal shot out of necessity, averaging 28.8 factors, 9.5 rebounds and seven.8 assists this week, whereas Michael Porter Jr. has impressively taken on the second scorer function, averaging 25.8 factors for the week whereas making 55 % of his almost 10 3-point makes an attempt per sport. 2 39-21


Three extra wins for the Knicks this week brings their streak to 9 in a row. The offense has been surprisingly overwhelming, averaging 118.7 factors per 100 possession throughout the streak. That’s largely because of Julius Randle, who averaged 29 factors, 10.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 57 (!) % 3-point taking pictures this week, whereas RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullock have all been constant contributors because the Knicks seem like a scary playoff opponent. 3 34-27


These preaching that the Hawks are for actual have extra proof: back-to-back wins over the Warmth and Bucks with out Trae Younger. Their solely loss this week got here in time beyond regulation to the blazing-hot Knicks, the identical sport through which Younger left early with an ankle harm. Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to have a outstanding function within the offense, each scoring and facilitating, whereas Kevin Huerter has taken on extra playmaking duties with Younger out. Atlanta is now tied with the Knicks, who it might meet within the 4-5 matchup if the season ended as we speak. 4 34-27


The Bucks misplaced to the Suns in time beyond regulation earlier than back-to-back wins over the 76ers and a loss to the Hawks on Sunday. Milwaukee led by double digits within the fourth quarter in opposition to Atlanta, however succumbed to a late Hawks run as the sport slipped away. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 28.8 factors and 13 rebounds per sport on 61 % taking pictures, whereas Khris Middleton added 19.3 factors on 39 % 3-point taking pictures. — 37-23


This time final week the 76ers appeared to be in sturdy place for the East’s No. 1 seed. After 4 straight losses, they’re now in peril of falling to No. 3. Taking part in with out Ben Simmons all week, Philly ran right into a red-hot Steph Curry, then confronted two of the league’s finest groups within the Suns and Bucks. Tobias Harris additionally missed two of the video games and Joel Embiid was held out of Saturday’s blowout loss to the Bucks. Nonetheless, groups have needed to discover methods to win with out a full roster all season, and the 76ers are not any exception. 6 39-21


After shedding 4 out of 5, the Mavs bounced again this week by beating the Pistons then sweeping a two-game set with the Lakers. Luka Doncic averaged 26 factors, 10 assists and 9 rebounds for the week, hitting a clutch step-back 3-pointer late in Saturday’s win over L.A. Dallas is now only one sport behind the Lakers within the loss column for the fifth seed within the Western Convention, with the second-softest remaining schedule within the league. 2 33-26


The Warmth gained three video games in opposition to inferior opponents this week, however misplaced to the Trae Younger-less Hawks in what could possibly be a pivotal matchup by way of the Japanese Convention playoff image. Kendrick Nunn led the workforce in scoring this week, averaging 20.5 factors on 47 % 3-point taking pictures, whereas Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler offered their normal, regular contributions. 3 32-29


Effectively, people, Steph Curry lastly cooled off — for one sport. A uncommon off-night in a loss to the Wizards was surrounded by good performances in wins over the 76ers, Nuggets and Kings. Throwing out the 2-for-14 sport in opposition to Washington, Curry went 21 for 40 from the 3-point line within the different three video games whereas averaging almost 40 factors. Kent Bazemore and Damion Lee are out on account of well being and security protocols, which is able to imply extra alternative for Kelly Oubre Jr., who averaged 18.8 factors and 6 rebounds this week. 3 31-30


The Celtics backslid after a latest scorching stretch, shedding to the Bulls, Nets and Hornets this week, together with a stable win over the Suns. Boston was with out Jaylen Brown for 2 of the video games, but it surely did see the return of Evan Fournier, who didn’t make a discipline aim and scored simply two factors in 42 complete minutes in his first two video games again. Jayson Tatum cooled off significantly, taking pictures simply 34 % from the sphere and 31 % from 3-point vary this week. 7 32-29


The Lakers went 0-3 this week, however that’s secondary to the return of Anthony Davis to the lineup. The massive man averaged 10.5 factors in 22.5 minutes in his first two video games again, and was understandably rusty. Dennis Schroder continues to be the offensive engine with Davis easing again in and LeBron James nonetheless out, placing up 18.7 factors and 9.7 assists on 43 % 3-point taking pictures within the three video games this week. 4 35-25


The Wizards have solid a spell on the NBA, successful 4 extra video games this week to convey their successful streak to eight, and 11 straight with Bradley Beal within the lineup. Issues are clearly clicking offensively, however the protection has been noteworthy for a workforce that almost set an NBA file for defensive futility final season. They allowed simply 104.3 factors per 100 possessions this week, and with the 1-2 punch of Beal and Russell Westbrook, this could possibly be a formidable play-in opponent if they’ll sustain the D. 4 27-33


After a heartbreaking time beyond regulation loss to the Nuggets on Monday, the Grizzlies fell to the Clippers, then gained consecutive video games over the Blazers to attract even with them within the loss column. We sort of buried the lede right here — Jaren Jackson Jr. made his much-anticipated return to the courtroom, which some have been apprehensive won’t occur till subsequent season. The franchise large man confirmed Grizzlies followers what they’d been lacking, averaging 19 factors and a pair of.5 blocks in 21 minutes in two video games this week. 3 31-28


A much-needed 3-1 week from the Spurs, who’ve struggled in opposition to a troublesome schedule after the All-Star break. DeMar DeRozan’s late jumpers sealed an necessary win over the Pelicans on Saturday to offer them some respiration room within the race for a play-in spot out West. DeRozan averaged 21.7 factors and 6 assists in three video games this week, whereas Derrick White scored 21.5 factors per sport on 40 % 3-point taking pictures. — 30-29


Charlotte closed the week on a excessive observe, beating the Cavs and Celtics after shedding six of its earlier seven video games. 4 Hornets scored 20 or extra factors in an egalitarian offensive effort in opposition to Boston, whereas Miles Bridges, PJ Washington and Terry Rozier all averaged over 18 factors per sport as they attempt to maintain down the fort awaiting the return of Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. — 30-30

Path Blazers

This was an excruciating week for Portland, shedding three video games by a complete of 4 factors earlier than falling to the Grizzlies on Sunday to convey the shedding streak to 5 video games. It’s been a tough stretch for the Blazers, who are actually tied with the No. 8 Grizzlies within the loss column and are only a sport and a half forward of the No. 10 Warriors within the West. Damian Lillard shot simply 29 % from 3-point vary in three video games this week after getting back from a hamstring harm, whereas Jusuf Nurkic put up 16.7 factors, 14.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in three video games. 3 32-28


What every week for the Pacers, who gained three straight video games with no wholesome facilities on the roster. Oshae Brissett, who simply signed a long-term cope with Indiana, took benefit of the additional alternative by averaging 15 factors and 9.3 rebounds on 41 % 3-point taking pictures this week. Malcolm Brogdon (24.3 factors per sport) and Caris LeVert (22.3) led the offensive assault, whereas Edmond Sumner had an incredible week, placing up 15 factors per sport on 54 % 3-point taking pictures. — 29-31


The Raptors solely had two video games this week, beating the Nets with a uncommon, full roster earlier than shedding to the red-hot Knicks. Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet all averaged 22 factors or extra within the two video games, they usually mixed to go 27 for 34 from 3-point vary. Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup after lacking 10 of Toronto’s final 11 video games, averaging 9 factors, seven assists and 7 rebounds this week. 1 25-35


The Pelicans misplaced to the Spurs and short-handed Nets this week, with their solely win coming in opposition to the Magic, making a play-in spot seem like an increasing number of of a attain. Zion Williamson was an absolute beast this week, averaging almost 30 factors and 9.3 rebounds per sport on 67 % taking pictures, whereas Brandon Ingram added 26.7 factors and 5.7 assists per sport. 1 26-34


The Bulls began off the week with a giant highway win over the Celtics behind 29 factors and 9 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic, and in addition beat the Hornets later within the week with losses to the Cavs and Warmth. Chicago gave the impression to be in free-fall over the past couple weeks, so it’s a step in the fitting route that it has gained three of its final 5 with Zach LaVine out of the lineup. Coby White has stepped up in LaVine’s absence, averaging 20.5 factors and 5.3 assists on 43 % 3-point taking pictures for the week. — 25-35


The Wolves had a successful week, splitting two video games with the Kings earlier than a powerful win in Utah on Saturday. Minnesota now has a successful file with Karl-Anthony Cities and D’Angelo Russell within the lineup, one thing to construct on for subsequent season since they’ve formally been eradicated from this yr’s playoffs. Cities, Russell and Anthony Edwards all averaged 22 factors or extra and shot 38 % or higher from 3-point vary this week. 1 17-44


The Cavs went 1-3 this week with a win over the Bulls and losses to the Pistons, Hornets and scorching-hot Wizards. Collin Sexton averaged 28.7 factors on 50 % 3-point taking pictures in three video games earlier than sitting out Sunday’s loss to Washington, and his backcourt mate Darius Garland put up 25.8 factors and 6.3 assists on 48 % from deep for the week. Jarrett Allen scored a career-high 27 factors and pulled down 12 rebounds in opposition to the Wizards. 1 21-39


The Kings break up with the Wolves earlier than shedding to the Warriors on Sunday, and came upon that they’ll be with out De’Aaron Fox for no less than 10 days on account of well being and security protocols. His absence most likely ends no matter faint playoff hopes the Kings have been hanging onto, although it is going to go away extra offensive management within the arms of Tyrese Haliburton, who averaged 15.7 factors and seven.7 assists this week on 42 % 3-point taking pictures. — 24-36


Detroit’s lone win this week got here in opposition to the Cavs, adopted by losses to the Mavs, Spurs and Pacers. The Pistons have been resting a major chunk of their roster virtually each different sport, so loads of gamers will get alternative because the season winds to an in depth. Jerami Grant solely performed in two video games this week, however averaged 25.5 factors on 45 % taking pictures. Rookie Isaiah Stewart has been spectacular when Mason Plumlee rests, averaging 13 factors, 14.5 rebounds and a pair of.5 blocks in two begins this week. — 18-43


Houston had a tough stretch of video games this week and predictably misplaced all 4, being formally eradicated from playoff competition within the course of. The Rockets have trotted out a MASH unit onto the courtroom for a lot of the season, and it looks like solely a matter of time earlier than gamers like John Wall and Christian Wooden get shut down for the yr. Meaning extra time for younger gamers like KJ Martin, DJ Wilson and Kevin Porter Jr., as soon as he clears well being and security protocols. — 15-46


The Magic have been blown out by the Hawks, Pelicans and Pacers this week because the losses proceed to pile up — that’s 5 in a row, and 9 of their final 10. Orlando had six gamers common double-figure scoring this week, with Cole Anthony the chief at 15 factors per sport. It’s solely a matter of time earlier than the Magic are eradicated from the playoffs and might start specializing in subsequent season in earnest. — 18-42


Three extra video games, three extra losses for OKC, which has now dropped 13 straight ad infinitum. Followers should maintain telling themselves that is what’s finest for the longer term, but it surely’s getting a bit onerous to look at. Darius Bazley has elevated his manufacturing, averaging 24 factors per sport this week, albeit on low effectivity. Lu Dort scored 18 factors in the one sport he was allowed to play this week, whereas Theo Maledon averaged 14.3 factors on 53 % 3-point taking pictures in three video games. — 20-40

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