- LeBron James and the Lakers fell to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in a very unusual way. While Lou Williams is making his case as a Hall of Famer for his prolific bench scoring. Here is this week's power rankings.
On Sunday, I witnessed something truly remarkable as the Lakers and Clippers both found ways to end their games in ways that sum up their seasons. LeBron James getting a potential game-winner blocked was as shocking and jaw-dropping as Lou Williams hitting a walk-off three was appropriate and expected despite never happening before.
It’s always cool when sports create poetic moments like those. And that left me inspired to make this week’s Power Rankings more symbolic than ones in the past.
So let’s reflect on each team’s season and project a bit into their futures by using some poetry, and a handful of cliffnotes for those of you who hated the Shakespeare unit in English class.
30. Knicks | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 14-56 | Previous Ranking: 30
An Owner of the People
Ban the fans and shirts.
But if Zion doesn’t come,
nowhere will be safe.
Mario Hezonja just needs to cross up James Harden or pull up from 30 against Stephen Curry and he will have have the greatest season of highlights for his career.
Both wins over the Lakers this season stopped eight-game losing streaks.
29. Lakers | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 31-39 | Previous Ranking: 28
When a King Leaves His Palace
The most wonderful
playground we have ever seen.
Host of tragedy.
Since the start of February, the Lakers have gone 4-14.
LeBron James is on track to average 27-8-8 for the second time in his career. The first instance was last season.
28. Cavaliers | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 17-53 | Previous Ranking: 29
A Land Without a Ruler
A new chapter that
feels familiar. Brighter, but
no comeback awaits.
Collin Sexton has scored at least 23 in five straight games and is shooting 55.7% (49-for-88) and 47.2% (17-for-36) from three.
Kevin Love is shooting more threes (6.8) than twos (6.3) for the first time in his career, and he’s only shooting one percentage point better from two (39% on twos vs. 38% on threes).
27. Bulls | Last Week: 0-3 | Overall: 19-52 | Previous Ranking: 26
How Far We’ve Come
What GarPax had started has since transformed
Now Hoiberg is gone and Boylen has the reins
Lauri’s looked great after early season pain
LaVine and Otto have the wing reformed
Kris is still growing, but he’s underperformed
If he and those others can get on the same plane
Next season is one that could be insane
With a healthy Wendell who is more informed
And less likely to mutiny over practice time
Combined with continuity from playing together
There should be no trouble starting the climb
They must rise from their position of nether
One day these young guys will all reach their primes
And GarPax will be praised for battling through the weather
The Bulls have lost five straight since beating the 76ers by one.
Robin Lopez posted consecutive 20-point games for the first time this season against the Lakers and Clippers.
26. Mavericks | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 28-41 | Previous Ranking: 27
The Future is Present
Pass the torch for growth
Step back and then fade away
to the place greats go
Dirk Nowitzki is likely passing Wilt Chamberlain for sixth on the scoring list Monday
Luka Doncic missed Saturday’s game with a knee contusion. After playing so much before the start of this season, it will be interesting to see if the Mavericks look to rest him a bit more to not wear out his legs in now meaningless games.
25. Pelicans | Last Week: 0-3 | Overall: 30-42 | Previous Ranking: 23
From C-Webb to AD
No timeouts left to
think this all over again.
Take the T and L.
The Pelicans have matched a season-high six-game losing streak.
Julius Randle went for a career-high 45 in a loss Friday to the Trail Blazers.
24. Suns | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 17-54 | Previous Ranking: 25
Burn Stronger Over Time
Make them respect you.
Close out the season fighting,
Kelly Oubre Jr. has been averaging 16.9 points with Phoenix, which is four more than he was posting with the Wizards this season.
At 5-4 so far in March, the Suns have the chance to finish a month above .500 for the first time this season.
23. Grizzlies | Last Week: 0-2 | Overall: 28-42 | Previous Ranking: 22
Play in Transition
All grit and no gloss.
A fan favorite remains
to show them the way
A 21-point loss in Atlanta snapped a three-game winning streak.
Joakim Noah’s three-straight games with double-digit scoring is his second best stretch of the season and marks the first time all season his scoring output has increased in three consecutive games.
22. Hornets | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 31-38 | Previous Ranking: 21
What Happens to a Star in Charlotte?
It started so strong,
then went downhill ever so slow.
Away Kemba goes.
The Hornets lost the fourth quarter by 17 points in their 18-point loss to the Heat Sunday that tied the season series.
Charlotte is now closer to the Wizards in 11th in the East (1.5 games ahead) than it is to Miami in the eighth seed (two games behind).
Jeremy Lamb is averaging 16.2 points in 11 games off the bench.
21. Timberwolves | Last Week: 0-3 | Overall: 32-38 | Previous Ranking: 19
Some Things Never Change
With Ryan Saunders in charge
There is more hype for next season
This team can play large
Or get small for a reason
When RoCo gets back
The defense will improve
And the three-point attack?
It should get in a groove
With Dario and Okogie
The bench should be deep
But if health is still lowly
Not even peak KAT will change *bleep*
Once again we project about what the future holds
For the young TimberPups: a basketball story that might never unfold
Minnesota has lost eight straight on the road but has won six straight at home.
Karl-Anthony Towns has continued his dominance of late and also averaged more than four assists per game this past week.
20. Wizards | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 30-40 | Previous Ranking: 24
Change is Brewing
A questionable summer
And then a tragic injury
But the season isn’t a bummer
Mostly cause of No. 3
Build around Beal
Start with Bobby, then others
Have you seen the highlight reels?
Maybe they’re just my druthers
Either way we all know
If this offseason resembles last
Scott Brooks will be next to go
And from there will be an overcast
A cloudy sky filled with hopes of a heaven
But in reality, it’s tape from Kelly O in Game 7
Bradley Beal might mess around and win a scoring title next year.
With games remaining against Utah, Denver, San Antonio, Miami and Boston, Washington could play a big role in the playoff picture despite not heading to the postseason.
Jabari Parker’s 60.4% effective field-goal percentage in 16 games marks arguably the best and easily the most efficient shooting stretch of his career.
19. Hawks | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 24-47 | Previous Ranking: 20
Old Dogs Teach Young Pups
A strong young core can
inspire hope in the stands.
As can an old man.
The Hawks welcome the Rockets, Jazz and 76ers into Atlanta this week. Expect them to steal one of those games.
And after a few games below his assist average, look for Trae Young to be an aggressive facilitator in those matchups against playoff teams.
18. Kings | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 34-35 | Previous Ranking: 16
Experience Is the Best Teacher
Young legs don’t tire out
Minds wear down before bodies
But a Fox will learn
The Kings are about as far back of the Clippers as the Clippers are of the Nuggets. Sacramento suffered three close losses to close out a four-game east coast swing. Marvin Bagley III returned from injury to put up 14, 15 and 21 in his first three games back.
17. Nets | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 36-36 | Previous Ranking: 14
Where Brooklyn At?
Ice veins and big fros
Plus returns from injuries
Equals playoff ball
The Nets have started their West Coast trip 0-3 after letting Sunday’s game slip away.
Caris LeVert is still looking to get acclimated after returning from injury. He’s yet to score 20 points in the 16 games since his return.
Brooklyn has had two three-game losing streaks in its last 10 contests and a four-game winning streak sandwiched between.
16. Magic | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 33-38 | Previous Ranking: 18
What Are Clouds in a Drought?
March has had meaning
for the first time in a while.
But will it matter?
After losing four of five, the Magic are now on a two-game winning streak to pull a game behind the Heat for eighth in the East.
Nikola Vucevic went for 27 and 20 in a win over the Hawks.
Orlando has three more games in a five-game homestand before starting a four-game road trip in Miami and Detroit.
15. Heat | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 33-36 | Previous Ranking: 17
A Just Ending
A final dance that
seeks to bring Justise to a
The Heat hit six threes and got 12 points from Dwyane Wade and 10 from Goran Dragic in the fourth quarter against the Hornets Sunday.
After getting wins over the Pistons and Hornets, Miami still gets to face off against the Magic and Nets to bolster its playoff standing.
14. Pacers | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 44-26 | Previous Ranking: 15
The Dipo Effect
More talent than star
Power to the committee
Making it work out
The Pacers came back from down 19 to top the Thunder on Thursday
Indiana is still a game up on the Celtics for the fourth seed and has two games left against Boston.
13. Pistons | Last Week: 2-2 | Overall: 36-33 | Previous Ranking: 11
Coach of the Year
Dwane Casey revenge
games are the greatest part of
a successful year
The Pistons swept the Raptors on the season thanks to Sunday’s win.
Blake Griffin will not be getting any MVP love this season, but depending on the matchup, he might guide Detroit past the first round of the playoffs.
After scoring in single digits in back-to-back losses, Reggie Jackson has gone for 20 in consecutive wins.
12. Celtics | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 43-27 | Previous Ranking: 12
How Does This End?
Does this last until
June and end in a parade?
July will bring change
Al Horford and Gordon Hayward were banged up in Saturday’s win.
Winners of five of their last six, the Celtics will face the Nuggets, 76ers and Spurs this week.
Kyrie Irving averaged 30.5 points, 10.5 assists and 10.5 rebounds in his last two and posted his second career triple double.
11. Thunder | Last Week: 2-2 | Overall: 42-28 | Previous Ranking: 5
LA Boys in OKC
the ideal complement to
Triple Double Russ
The Thunder will be without Westbrook Monday against the Heat after he picked up his 16th technical foul on the season.
Oklahoma City is 5-8 since the All-Star Break and now fifth in the West.
10. Spurs | Last Week: 3-0 | Overall: 41-29 | Previous Ranking: 13
The playoffs are near
Popovich has his squad hot
At the perfect time
The Spurs are riding an eight-game winning streak that includes five wins over playoff teams.
San Antonio’s next four games are also against likely playoff teams, but seven of its final eight are against likely lottery teams.
The team is 34-21 with Derrick White in the lineup and 7-8 without him.
9. Trail Blazers | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 42-27 | Previous Ranking: 8
Concerned With the Top
Lurking in the packing
Looking to cause an upset
But cannot get swept
C.J. McCollum has a knee strain that will be re-evaluated in a week, but the injury could have been much worse.
Jusuf Nurkic once had Kobe cuss at him in Bosnian because of course Kobe would do that.
8. 76ers | Last Week: 3-0 | Overall: 45-25 | Previous Ranking: 10
Still Processing …
In a plan you had trusted
Now it’s coming to fruition
A few picks might have busted
But you nailed the two needed for the mission
With Jimmy and Tobias and J.J. on the wing
This might be the groundwork
Or just a one season fling
Fans are sure to go berserk
No matter how this season ends
They’ll wait for an Embiid tweet
Remember the headbanded best friends
Who were a delightful defensive treat
But if they topple Boston, and play late into May
“Elton Brand is a genius” is what Philly will say
Jimmy Butler scored 14 of his 27 points on Sunday against the Bucks in the fourth quarter.
The 76ers have won four straight since Joel Embiid returned to the lineup.
7. Raptors | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 49-21 | Previous Ranking: 3
Now or Never
Something new awaits
This April and May. Or else
Nobody will stay
The Raptors lost by 25 in Cleveland but beat LeBron by 13 points this week.
After shooting 27.6% on threes in February, Kawhi Leonard is now shooting 45.9% from deep in March and went 13-for-24 last week.
6. Jazz | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 40-29 | Previous Ranking: 6
down the stretch should be good news
as they tighten screws
The Jazz are on their second three-game winning streak since the All-Star Break
Utah plays 11 straight against teams under .500
The Jazz showed their fan base is better than a pair of obnoxious guys who hate Russell Westbrook and showing a human proper respect by banning two men who have no business attending another NBA game in their lives.
5. Nuggets | Last Week: 3-0 | Overall: 46-22 | Previous Ranking: 9
What Is Meant to Be
Power through the pain
Injuries cannot contain
destiny’s big plans
The Nuggets play six of their next seven on the road, including a four-game trip East this week.
With one more win, Denver will exceed last season’s win total and it will mark a franchise-record fourth consecutive season with an improved record.
4. Clippers | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 41-30 | Previous Ranking: 7
A coach with success and a breadth
Of low outside expectations for the year
He leaned on his depth
And banked on rookies to lack fear
They traded their top scorer
Put more faith in role players
Many projected horror
They were foolish naysayers
Now with the game’s greatest bench threat
Shai, Landry, Pat Bev and Gallinari
They are flying like a jet
But they have the swagger of a Ferrari
Together as one they will claim a great city
“But that’s where The King resides.” Oh? What a pity.
Lou Williams is the officially the most prolific bench scorer of all-time and I think it’s time to have a conversation about what that should mean to Hall of Fame voters.
Just two games out of the four seed and with six games left against teams under .500 and a contest against Utah waiting for the season finale, this team still has a great shot at homecourt for the first round.
3. Bucks | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 52-18 | Previous Ranking: 2
Greek gods will bow down
As Antetokounmpo slams
His way through trouble
Giannis went for a career-high 52, but the Bucks lost to the 76ers.
Malcolm Brogdon on the shelf for six to eight weeks could be a big issue depending on Milwaukee’s second round playoff matchup.
But D.J. Wilson, who went for 13 (3-for-6 from three) against Philadelphia could be a boost to the lineup.
2. Warriors | Last Week: 2-0 | Overall: 47-21 | Previous Ranking: 4
The Next Evolution
Speed kills, as do threes.
Boogie on the break will bring
Defenders to knees
The Warriors avoided getting swept by the Rockets, and then washed the Thunder, all without Kevin Durant.
Andrew Bogut could be making his return on Monday against the Spurs with DeMarcus Cousins dealing with a sore right foot.
1. Rockets | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 44-26 | Previous Ranking: 1
To Be the Best
A climb to the top
That started in a dark place
Must end in revenge
After winning the season series 3-1, you don’t want to put too much emphasis on Wednesday’s loss to the Warriors, but it has to sting.
Chris Paul made his first six threes in Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves.
P.J. Tucker is shooting 10 percentage points better on right corner threes vs. left corner threes.