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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz end 2019 on a high note

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Utah finishes the calendar year winning nine of their last eleven

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Things are trending up for the Utah Jazz (21-12, 5th in the West) as we close out 2019. Utah got a signature win Saturday night in Los Angeles, taking down a mostly-healthy Clippers team 120-107. That closed out a 2-1 week and the Jazz overcame a slow start to blow out the Detroit Pistons Monday night 104-81.

Overall, the Jazz are 9-2 since a 3-game losing streak kicked off December and are on a slow climb back up the standings, even with the Dallas Mavericks and 1.5 games back of the Houston Rockets at 4. That’s been good enough for Utah to emerge back into single digits in most of the NBA power rankings around the web.

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

Beating the Clippers on the road Saturday night gave the Jazz a statement-type win during their active 7-1 run. Mike Conley played only 19 minutes during that stretch because of his nagging hamstring strain, pushing Donovan Mitchell to point guard, where he has thrived. Mitchell has averaged 27.0 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 52.1% from the field over the past eight games. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

The Jazz have won eight of their last 10 games, and punctuated the strong run with a big road win against the Clippers on Saturday. Donovan Mitchell is making a strong All-Star case, averaging 26 points and 7.7 assists on 38 percent 3-point shooting over the team’s last three games. The Jazz defense still isn’t where Quin Snyder would like it to be, but the offense has carried them over the last 10 games with a 114.4 rating, good for fifth in the NBA.

SI.com

Welcome back to the Finals race, Utah. The Jazz awoke from their now-annual early-season slumber on Dec. 7, winning eight of their last 10 after a middling 12–10 start. Donavan Mitchell has five 30-point games since Dec. 11, and recent extension recipient Joe Ingles is back to his sharpshooting ways after a miserable start. Don’t write off the Jazz as a Finals contender just yet.

NBA.com

It used to be that the Jazz needed a top-three defense to compete with the best teams in the Western Conference. But they’re currently just a game in the loss column out of third place, ranking 10th in defensive efficiency. They rank 19th defensively (110.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) in December, but have won seven of their last eight games, a stretch highlighted by their win over the Clippers (LA’s worst defensive game in which it’s had both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard) on Saturday. Donovan Mitchell has averaged 27 points on 52% shooting over the eight games and has seemingly come up with a flurry of buckets whenever the Jazz have needed one. But the biggest key to their success might be the resurrection of Joe Ingles, who has shot 55% from 3-point range (the best mark among 119 players with at least 50 attempts) in December. The Jazz starting lineup (the one without Mike Conley) has outscored its opponents by amazing 39.1 points per 100 possessions in 139 minutes over the last seven games.

Rotoworld

Despite playing without starting PG Mike Conley, the Jazz have won seven of their last eight games, including a very impressive win over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Donovan Mitchell has been facilitating the offense with Conley on the shelf, and he led the way in the win over LA, racking up 30 points, seven boards, nine dimes, and four triples. Joe Ingles stayed hot as well, tallying 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and five 3-pointers.

SLC Dunk

I bumped the Jazz back into single digits as well this week, settling in at No. 8. The best news we saw in the month of December was that Joe Ingles has had a bit of an awakening in Mike Conley’s absence. Since re-entering the starting lineup on December 4, Ingles has averaged 15.3 points, 5.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 steal per game. Most importantly, his shooting is back on track. 53.3% from behind the arc since re-joining the starters.

There’s a strong argument to be made for Ingles to have a permanent place with the starters even when Conley returns.