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NBA Power Rankings: Can the LA Clippers stay atop the Western Conference?

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Beal, Westbrook lead Wizards' remarkable comeback vs. Nets (2:11)

Down five with under 10 seconds to go, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook hit clutch 3-pointers as the Wizards stun the Nets in regulation. (2:11)

The month of January ended in style in the NBA.

On Sunday, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook each played hero in a wild, game-ending sequence that saw the Washington Wizards use an 8-0 run in the final 12 seconds to stun the Brooklyn Nets.

On Saturday night in Chicago, Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers pulled off a similar feat against the Chicago Bulls. Lillard hit back-to-back deep 3s in the final 8.9 seconds to add another chapter to the Dame Time legend.

Meanwhile, thanks to back-to-back losses last week by the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, the LA Clippers now boast the league's best record.

What does it all mean for the first NBA Power Rankings of February?

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, Eric Woodyard, Royce Young and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6

1. LA Clippers
2020-21 record: 16-5
Previous ranking: 2

The past week commenced with the Clippers embarking on a six-game swing with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George entering quarantine and Patrick Beverley (knee) out. While the Clippers had a seven-game winning streak snapped in Atlanta, they got Leonard and George back after missing just two games because of contact tracing. Now they've started a new streak. Tyronn Lue is pushing the right buttons, Reggie Jackson has stepped up for Beverley and the Clippers' chemistry is forming. Next up is a big test against the Nets. -- Youngmisuk

This week: @BKN, @CLE, BOS, SAC


2. Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 record: 15-6
Previous ranking: 1

L.A.'s audacious aspiration to not drop two games in a row all season came to an end with back-to-back losses in Philadelphia and Detroit, but the Lakers bounced back in Boston. It turns out having Anthony Davis in the lineup makes a difference. After Davis sat out the Pistons game with a bruised quad, he returned to wreak havoc on the Celtics, posting 27 points, 14 rebounds and 2 steals to help the defending champs get back on track. -- McMenamin

This week: @ATL, DEN, DET


3. Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 record: 15-6
Previous ranking: 4

It took a 31-6 run to end the game Sunday night against the Pacers, but the 76ers finally have a win without Joel Embiid this season. More importantly, the Sixers have the Eastern Conference's best record. There's no team that has been as consistently solid as Philadelphia in the East this campaign. Questions will linger about what this squad will look like in the playoffs, but so far, things are looking good. -- Bontemps

This week: @CHA, POR, BKN


4. Utah Jazz
2020-21 record: 15-5
Previous ranking: 3

The silver lining in Sunday's loss to the Nuggets, which snapped the Jazz's NBA-season-best 11-game winning streak, was Bojan Bogdanovic's 29-point performance. Bogdanovic, who got off to a slow start coming off surgery on his shooting wrist, has had his two best scoring performances of the campaign in the past two games. -- MacMahon

This week: DET, @ATL, @CHA, @IND


5. Denver Nuggets
2020-21 record: 12-8
Previous ranking: 8

The Nuggets are hitting their stride after a rough start. They've won six of their past seven and crushed the hottest team in the league, snapping the Jazz's 11-game winning streak on Sunday. Nikola Jokic, who matched a career high with 47 points against Utah, continues to build his MVP case with 20 straight double-doubles to start the season -- the second-longest streak in NBA history. -- Youngmisuk

This week: DET, @LAL, @SAC


6. Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 record: 13-9
Previous ranking: 7

At least Steve Nash isn't pretending otherwise, saying this week of the Nets' defense: "We've got a long way to go." It would seem that you'd be fine when you're scoring 147 points in regulation with Kevin Durant sitting, then 146 against the Wizards with James Harden sitting. Yes, Brooklyn beat the Thunder 147-125. But an epic meltdown in the final 10 seconds against Washington resulted in a five-point lead slipping away, and Brooklyn somehow lost 149-146. StatMuse summed it best: Since the Harden trade, the Nets have a 122.6 offensive rating, which is the best in the league and would be the best all time. They also have a 119.9 defensive rating, which is the worst in the league and would be the worst of all time. -- Young

This week: LAC, TOR, @PHI


7. Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 record: 11-8
Previous ranking: 5

Milwaukee topped Toronto to begin the week but lost back-to-back games at New Orleans and Charlotte. The Bucks are nowhere near panic mode, but through 19 games, Milwaukee is 11-8. Last season, the Bucks didn't reach eight losses until game No. 54. -- Woodyard

This week: POR, IND, @CLE, @CLE


8. Boston Celtics
2020-21 record: 10-8
Previous ranking: 6

The final 10 minutes of Boston's dramatic loss to the Lakers on Saturday night were overshadowed by fears over Marcus Smart's leg injury being a serious one. And while the Celtics will undoubtedly miss him on their five-game West Coast swing that starts Tuesday in San Francisco against the Warriors, the fact that the heart and soul of the team is going to be out only two to three weeks with a calf strain is the best outcome that could've been realistically hoped for. -- Bontemps

This week: @GSW, @SAC, @LAC, @PHX


9. Indiana Pacers
2020-21 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 10

Domantas Sabonis continues to shine. He became the fifth player in NBA history with a 20-point triple-double on 90% shooting in Wednesday's win over the Hornets. Myles Turner, who is pushing through a fracture in his right hand, remains Indy's defensive anchor with six games of at least five blocks this season. -- Woodyard

This week: MEM, @MIL, NOP, UTA


10. Phoenix Suns
2020-21 record: 10-8
Previous ranking: 9

After falling in their first two games without Devin Booker, who was sidelined with a left hamstring injury, Phoenix bounced back with wins over Golden State and Dallas to finish off the week. The Suns' win on Saturday over the Mavericks featured a vintage Chris Paul performance. Paul registered 29 points and 12 assists and did most of his damage in the fourth quarter. He had 16 points and five assists in the final stanza alone; it was only the third time in Paul's career he has had at least 15 points and five assists in a fourth quarter, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The last time was Nov. 12, 2008, against the Lakers. -- Lopez

This week: @DAL, @NOP, DET, BOS


11. Portland Trail Blazers
2020-21 record: 10-8
Previous ranking: 11

The unbelievable win on Saturday against the Bulls, with his pair of 3s in under nine seconds, was another chapter in the legend of Dame Time. But down multiple starters and key role players, it's what Lillard has to do to steady the Blazers through rocky waters. He has led them in scoring over the past eight games (averaging 34.0 points during that stretch); and with four tilts remaining on a grueling, six-game trip, expect more of the same. -- Young

This week: @MIL, @WAS, @PHI, @NYK


12. Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 record: 8-6
Previous ranking: 19

Memphis hasn't lost since Jan. 7, as the Grizzlies picked up where they left off after being parked by the league for a week and a half because of health and safety protocols, beating the Spurs on Saturday to extend their winning streak to six games. Ja Morant has his two highest assist totals in the past two games, dishing out 10 dimes on Jan. 18 against the Suns and 11 against the Spurs. -- MacMahon

This week: @SAS, @IND, HOU, @NOP


13. San Antonio Spurs
2020-21 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 13

San Antonio had its first postponement of the season against New Orleans last Monday; but after all tests for players came back negative, it returned to action on Wednesday with a win over Boston. The Spurs also welcomed Derrick White back to the rotation Saturday night. White had only played in one game this season -- on New Year's Day -- because of two separate injuries to his toe. In his return against the Grizzlies, White led the Spurs with 18 points in just 22 minutes off the bench. -- Lopez

This week: MEM, MIN, @HOU


14. Golden State Warriors
2020-21 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 15

Not much can be learned from the Warriors this week, although they did finish it 3-1. They beat the Timberwolves twice and the Pistons once, taking care of business against two of the weakest teams in the league. They also got blitzed by a Suns team that has been struggling to find its way. The good news for Steve Kerr is that rookie James Wiseman responded well after getting pulled from the starting lineup early in the week. Wiseman racked up a career-high 25 points in Wednesday's win over the Timberwolves. -- Friedell

This week: BOS, @DAL, @DAL


15. Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 record: 10-9
Previous ranking: 17

Trae Young went for 41 points in a 116-100 win over the Wizards on Friday, marking the 14th 40-point game of his career. Only Rick Barry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Shaquille O'Neal have had more 40-point games at age 22 or younger in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Young now has 403 3-pointers in his career. He did so in just 159 games, the fewest ever needed to reach 400 3s in NBA history -- beating Damian Lillard's mark by four games. -- Lopez

This week: LAL, DAL, UTA, TOR


16. Houston Rockets
2020-21 record: 9-9
Previous ranking: 23

The Rockets are 6-3 since the James Harden trade -- despite John Wall, Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo all missing games -- and have the NBA's second-best defensive rating (102.8) during that span. Wood continues to make a convincing case as an All-Star candidate; Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic are the only other players this season averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 55% from the floor. -- MacMahon

This week: @OKC, @OKC, @MEM, SAS


17. Cleveland Cavaliers
2020-21 record: 9-11
Previous ranking: 14

It was a rough week for the Cavs, going 1-3 while giving up 46 points to LeBron James in his Cleveland homecoming and dropping games against the Knicks and Timberwolves -- two teams the Cavs have to beat consistently in order to stay in the playoff picture. They did earn a win against Detroit, thanks to another strong game from Collin Sexton (29 points on 10-for-14 shooting, 5 rebounds, 5 assists), who should garner All-Star consideration. -- McMenamin

This week: MIN, LAC, MIL, MIL


18. Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 record: 9-11
Previous ranking: 24

Saturday's win over Antetokounmpo and the Bucks salvaged a 2-2 week, as Gordon Hayward had another strong night with 27 points in 38 minutes. The Hornets haven't found much consistency, but Terry Rozier provided some nice offensive punch this week, averaging 21 points over three games. Rozier sprained his right ankle in Saturday's win, and he is questionable heading into Monday's matchup with the Heat. -- Friedell

This week: @MIA, PHI, UTA, WAS


19. New York Knicks
2020-21 record: 9-12
Previous ranking: 20

Watching rookie Immanuel Quickley continue to produce -- he had 25 points in 27 minutes against one of his idols, Lou Williams, on Sunday -- is a reminder that this season isn't about wins and losses in Gotham. And in terms of developing the team's young players and instilling a culture, the Knicks have to be happy with the first month of their season. -- Bontemps

This week: @CHI, @CHI, POR, MIA


20. Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 record: 8-12
Previous ranking: 12

The league's worst 3-point shooting team (32.8%) gets back its best shooter so far this season when power forward Maxi Kleber (47.1%) returns Monday after missing 11 games because of COVID-19. The Mavs, losers of eight of the past 10, need all the help they can get right now. Their current five-game skid includes four losses to teams missing their leading scorer; the Mavs are the first team since the Bulls in 2002 to have even three straight such losses. -- MacMahon

This week: PHO, @ATL, GSW, GSW


21. Toronto Raptors
2020-21 record: 8-12
Previous ranking: 16

Toronto continues to deal with a litany of injuries, and now OG Anunoby will be out with a calf strain. Still, the Raptors have won six of their past 10 and are slowly extricating themselves from the hole they dug at the start of the season. The question now: Is Toronto content to be a team that just makes the playoffs, or could it sell to improve in the future? -- Bontemps

This week: @ORL, @BKN, @ATL


22. Miami Heat
2020-21 record: 7-12
Previous ranking: 18

Miami finally got back Jimmy Butler, and he put up 30 in Saturday's win over the Kings that snapped a five-game losing streak. The Heat still have a slew of injuries -- Goran Dragic (groin strain), Avery Bradley (knee contusion), Meyers Leonard (shoulder strain), Mo Harkless (thigh contusion) and Tyler Herro (health and safety protocols) -- to navigate through as they try to get their season back on track. -- Friedell

This week: CHA, WAS, WAS, @NYK


23. New Orleans Pelicans
2020-21 record: 7-11
Previous ranking: 27

Thanks to a postponement to start off the week, the Pelicans went 19 days between home games when they finally played back in New Orleans on Wednesday after two weeks on the road. They got things started on the right foot with a win over the Wizards and carried that momentum into Friday's big win over the Bucks, against whom the Pelicans tied a franchise record with 21 3-pointers. Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball each hit seven 3-pointers versus Milwaukee, making them the fifth starting backcourt to hit at least seven 3s apiece in a game in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. -- Lopez

This week: SAC, PHX, @IND, MEM


24. Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 record: 8-10
Previous ranking: 25

Among the oddities of the 2020-21 season: The Thunder, with historically one of the most fearsome home-court advantages in the league, are just 1-6 on their home floor this season. They're 7-4 on the road. Their most recent home game featured the return of Thunder past, with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and James Harden all in the building as the Nets dropped 147 on OKC in a winning cause. -- Young

This week: HOU, HOU, MIN, MIN


25. Sacramento Kings
2020-21 record: 8-11
Previous ranking: 26

The biggest wild card for the Kings' future has to be Marvin Bagley III. His week featured a 16-point, 12-rebound showing in a win against Orlando, followed by just seven points and five boards in a win against Toronto as he was saddled by foul trouble, and capped by 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting in a one-point loss to Miami. If Bagley can hit consistently, Sacramento's chances for success in the West will spike. -- McMenamin

This week: @NOP, BOS, DEN, @LAC


26. Chicago Bulls
2020-21 record: 7-11
Previous ranking: 22

The Bulls were the latest to experience Dame Time. Chicago blew a late lead to fall 123-122 to Portland on Saturday behind Damian Lillard's buzzer-beating trey. Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen did put up a season-high 31 points, his most since 2019. -- Woodyard

This week: NYK, NYK, @ORL, @ORL


27. Washington Wizards
2020-21 record: 4-12
Previous ranking: 29

The Wizards pulled out their biggest win of the season on Sunday. With six players back from health and safety protocols, the Wizards stunned the Nets with eight points in the final eight seconds for just their fourth victory of the season. Washington was reeling from its COVID-19 outbreak, followed by four straight losses while playing with basically half a team. Bradley Beal, who continues his scoring assault, finally has help. Russell Westbrook had his signature game as a Wizard with 41 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists on Sunday. The Wizards hope this can turn their season around. -- Youngmisuk

This week: POR, @MIA, @MIA, @CHA


28. Orlando Magic
2020-21 record: 8-13
Previous ranking: 21

The Magic have lost 11 of 13 and continue to spiral after losing Markelle Fultz to a season-ending ACL injury a few weeks ago. A 1-3 week ended with some extra fireworks on Sunday, as Magic forward Aaron Gordon picked up a flagrant foul after delivering a hard foul to Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. Gordon has a long memory given that Lowry pulled his arm on a hard foul in the bubble last season, causing Gordon to miss the rest of the Magic's time during the restart. The Magic and Raptors square off again Tuesday. -- Friedell

This week: TOR, CHI, CHI


29. Minnesota Timberwolves
2020-21 record: 5-14
Previous ranking: 28

Anthony Edwards has struggled with his efficiency this season -- not unusual for rookies -- but there are signs he is turning a corner. He scored 25 points against the Warriors (featuring a 5-for-8 performance from 3) and 23 against the Cavs on Sunday (on 9-for-15 shooting). He has scored in double figures over five straight games and leads all rookies in scoring. It has been a tough season for the Wolves in a number of ways, but if Edwards can show positive developmental signs, the game plan for Minnesota might work out in the end. -- Young

This week: @CLE, @SAS, @OKC, @OKC


30. Detroit Pistons
2020-21 record: 5-15
Previous ranking: 30

After falling to the Warriors on Saturday, the Pistons have lost 15 of their first 20 games for the sixth time in team history. Detroit is the only team in the NBA not to win consecutive games this season. -- Woodyard

This week: @DEN, @UTA, @PHX, @LAL