NBA Power Rankings: Clutch Bulls take No. 1 spot from Warriors; Lakers on the rise;


If DeMar DeRozan hadn’t already cemented himself in modern Chicago Bulls basketball lore, he certainly did so with back-to-back game-winning 3-pointers on consecutive nights against the Pacers and Wizards. The Bulls added a win over the Magic to bring their winning streak to a league-best eight games, as DeRozan earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. Zach LaVine was no slouch himself, averaging 26.3 points on 46 percent 3-point shooting in the three wins to help the Bulls expand their lead in the East. 1 25-10

The Warriors started off the new year with impressive wins over the Jazz and Heat, but went ice cold from the field in a road loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday. The year 2022 hasn’t been kind to Steph Curry, who shot just 27 percent from the field, including 8 for 31 from 3-point range in the three games this week. Andrew Wiggins has continued to make an All-Star case, leading the team with 21.3 points per game this week on 53 percent 3-point shooting. 1 29-8

Utah’s only loss this week came to the Warriors at home, with wins over the Wolves, Pelicans and Nuggets. Reigning Western Conference Player of the Month Donovan Mitchell has carried things over into January, averaging 26.3 points and 5.5 assists this week on 37 percent 3-point shooting. With Rudy Gobert out of the lineup on Wednesday, Bojan Bogdanovic went off for 36 points, but surprisingly only made one 3-pointer. Instead he did his work at the shorter line, making a season-high 11 free throws in 13 attempts. — 28-10

Phoenix lost to the Celtics in its final game of 2021, but bounced back to handily beat the Hornets and Pelicans. Devin Booker led the way with 26 points per game, while big man Jalen Smith filled in admirably in the middle for Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, putting up 16.7 points, eight rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this week. Cam Johnson caught fire from 3-point range, knocking down 55 percent of his attempts en route to 17.3 points per game. — 29-8

That handful of fans suggesting the Grizzlies are better without Ja Morant must feel pretty foolish right now. Morant averaged 30.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds in a 3-0 week for Memphis, which has now won six games in a row. The defense continues to look strong after a horrific start to the season, and Desmond Bane had no problem making up for the absence of Dillon Brooks this week, putting up 19 points and four assists per game on 38 percent 3-point shooting. 3 25-14

Joel Embiid was at his trash-talking best after the 76ers’ big win in Brooklyn last Thursday, and they followed that up with wins over the Rockets and Magic to make it a perfect week. Embiid averaged 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists, holding down the fort as several teammates were in and out of the lineup. Seth Curry added 17.3 points per game on 42 percent 3-point shooting for the week, dishing out a season-high 12 assists in the win over Orlando. 6 21-16

The Big Three is back in Brooklyn, and Kyrie Irving’s season debut couldn’t have come at a better time,…

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