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NBA Power Rankings: Blowout wins not enough to stop Utah Jazz slide

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Despite a 3-1 week, the Jazz continue to slip down the rankings

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz have been a tough team to figure out lately. Last week the offense looked putrid in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder that was embarrassing both on and off the court.

They then turned it on to score 114, 120 and 114 points against the subpar competition of the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets.

Prior to that this month, they blew a big fourth quarter lead to the lottery-bound New Orleans Pelicans and had a listless performance against the basement dwelling Memphis Grizzlies.

The latter performances seem to be the ones sticking in the minds of the media power rankers, as the Jazz continued their slide this week, falling back to double digits in every subjective ranking outside of Sports Illustrated, which crew still is oddly bullish on Utah. The analytical models remain high on the Jazz, but that’s been true for the majority of the season.

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

Derrick Favors is arguably playing as well as he ever has for the Jazz and certainly since Utah emerged as a playoff team. He’s averaging 14.8 points on 60.3 percent shooting, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 25.6 minutes per game during the All-Star break. He has developed a terrific pick-and-roll rapport with Joe Ingles, who has assisted on 30 of Favors’ 70 buckets in the dozen games since the break, with half of those dimes resulting in dunks. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

The Big Question: Can the Jazz get the perfect playoff seeding? You don’t want to be the No. 8 seed in the West because that means you likely have to face the Warriors in the first round. But you also don’t want to be the No. 5 seed in the West, because that means you likely have to face the Warriors in the second round. The sweet spot for the Jazz is the 6-7 range; this team can make the Western Conference Finals with a couple of breaks.

SI.com

Playoff Prep

Weaker opponents

down the stretch should be good news

as they tighten screws

Additional notes:

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.

NBA.com

The Jazz have turned things up defensively, holding four of their last six opponents under a point per possession. But they remain in seventh place because their own offense scored just 89 points on 98 possessions (without Ricky Rubio) against the Thunder on Monday, with OKC completing a sweep of the season series. The Jazz proceeded to take care of business against the Suns, Wolves and Nets, and now they play 11 straight games against teams that currently have losing records. They’re 22-10 against that group so far, and with seven of those 11 opponents having bottom-10 offenses (and none ranking in the top 10 offensively), they still have a shot at finishing No. 1 in defensive efficiency for the second straight season. But they do already have losses to New Orleans and Memphis (two of their worst defensive games of the season) this month.

Rotoworld

The Jazz went 3-0 last week, with all three wins coming at home. However, they embark on a four-game road trip this week. The caliber of the opponents certainly isn’t intimidating (Wizards, Knicks, Hawks and Bulls), but Utah will play all four games over six days.

SLC Dunk

I believe this road trip will tell us a lot about the Jazz. Their record vs sub-.500 teams has been great for most of the year, but the last couple of weeks’ stumbles against the Pelicans and Grizzlies opened some room for doubt. If Utah can take care of business down the soft stretch of schedule, home court is still within reach, as they sit 2 games behind Portland for the No. 4 seed.