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NBA Power Rankings: Strong second halves give Utah Jazz slight bump

Another 2-1 week has Utah making some progress for the national pundits

Utah Jazz v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz were able to overcome some slow starts on the road in Cleveland and Detroit this week, helping them to a 2-1 week. The lone loss was a close one to the best team in the East, the Toronto Raptors.

Those results were good enough for the Jazz to see a slight increase almost across the board in this week’s power rankings check-in. After seeing low water marks in the 20s earlier in the season, Utah is back to being a consensus top-14 team.

NBA Power Rankings

Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
ESPN.com 7 7 7 6 5 6 7 12 12 13 12 11 9 6 5 3 8 9 7 9 12 7
CBS Sports 6 6 9 13 7 8 8 12 13 12 12 8 6 3 4 4 10 8 6 10 13 6
SI.com 6 6 9 13 8 8 11 11 12 12 12 11 9 7 6 6 8 7 7 8 8 8
NBA.com 5 7 7 11 7 8 10 12 13 12 13 8 6 3 3 3 7 7 6 9 9 6
Rotoworld 7 7 7 9 7 5 6 12 12 12 12 7 7 3 4 3 9 8 7 9 12 7
USA Today 4 4 4 6 5 7 9 12 12 12 11 9 4 3 3 3 9 6 6 12 12 9
FiveThirtyEight 5 6 8 7 5 6 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 4 4 5 6 5 11 11 10
SLC Dunk 4 4 6 7 4 6 8 11 13 12 11 8 6 3 3 3 8 6 6 10 10 8

ESPN.com

Coach Quin Snyder pulled Donovan Mitchell from the game after an ugly stretch (missed jumper, two turnovers) early in the second half Sunday. “I just felt like he needed just to step back, sit for a second and watch,” Snyder told reporters. “That gives you a little more clarity, and that can kind of strengthen your resolve.” Mitchell’s response: He scored 24 of his 26 points and didn’t turn the ball over the rest of the night as the Jazz rallied for a win in Detroit. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

Over the past 15 games, dating back to early December, the Jazz -- who struggled mightily on defense early in the season -- have ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating. This team is on the right path. The Jazz have had the NBA’s most difficult strength of schedule up to this point; going forward, they have the second-easiest schedule in the NBA, and the easiest in the Western Conference, according to Tankathon.com. Expect another second-half surge from the Jazz, a la last season.

SI.com

After nearly stealing one in Toronto but coming up just short, the Jazz handled business on the next two stops of their road trip (Cleveland and Detroit). Now Utah gets to see how it stacks up against the Bucks in Milwaukee.

NBA.com

Two big second halves (they outscored the Cavs and Pistons by a total score of 131-94 after halftime on Friday and Saturday) have the Jazz back at .500 ... in every fashion. They’re 8-8 at home, 12-12 on the road, 12-12 against the West, and 8-8 against the East. They’re an uneven 10-8 since they added Kyle Korver, ranking 11th offensively (110.8 points scored per 100 possessions) over those 18 games. They’ve seen a huge jump (from 31.9 percent in the 22 games prior to 37.5 percent over the 18) in 3-point percentage, and Korver’s 40 percent from beyond the arc is part of that. But another big part of that improvement has come from Jae Crowder (from 29.2 percent to 42.0 percent), who has shot better with Korver off the floor. Derrick Favors continues to start (nine straight games now), but the Crowder-at-power-forward lineup has played more minutes and has been 17.2 points per 100 possessions better offensively (having scored 114.8) than the Favors lineup (97.6). After they finish their four-game trip in Milwaukee on Monday, the Jazz will play 12 of their next 15 games at home.

Rotoworld

After scoring just two points in the first half, Donovan Mitchell caught first after halftime and poured in 24 points to carry the Jazz to a win in Detroit on Saturday night. Utah finishes up their current rod trip Monday in Milwaukee before heading home. Beginning Wednesday vs. Orlando, Utah will play eight of their next nine games at home.

SLC Dunk

The upcoming schedule is heavy on home games and sub-.500 teams. Hopefully that means this is the week the Jazz cross the .500 threshold and put it in the rear view for good. A speedy return from Dante Exum and continued progress for Donovan Mitchell’s season will be paramount in that effort. As Utah’s defensive rating continues to climb the league ranks, though, Rudy Gobert is still this team’s MVP.