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NBA Power Rankings: Pair of wins puts Utah Jazz back on track

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The Jazz get a slight bump on the back of some close victories

NBA: Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last week saw our nightmare come to an end. After blowing a lead with a putrid stretch in the third and fourth quarters against Denver to give the Jazz their fifth straight loss, Utah got back on the right side of the ledger against the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets.

The 2-1 week was enough to bring back out the green arrow for Utah in most of this week’s power rankings. Only ESPN and FiveThirtyEight had the Jazz falling one spot this week.

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

Since returning to the starting lineup, Mike Conley has looked like the point guard the Jazz expected to get when they shipped three players and a pair of first-round picks to the Grizzlies for him. Conley has averaged 20.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists with a true shooting percentage of 59.8 in those four games. The problem: He is the only Jazz starter with a positive plus-minus in that stretch. — MacMahon

CBS Sports

The Jazz bounced back from a five-game losing streak to beat the Blazers and Rockets to close out the week, both in close games. Mike Conley looked more like his old self this week, averaging 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and five assists while shooting 45 percent from deep, and he was a plus-2.3 in three games. Bojan Bogdanovic played hero on Sunday night, making a miraculous buzzer-beater to snatch the game from the Rockets.

SI.com

Bojan Bogdanovic has been impressive in his first year in Utah, canning 42.5% of threes while averaging a career-high 21.2 points per game. Bogdanovic absolutely saved Utah on Sunday (with some help from Jordan Clarkson), hitting a game-winning three to beat the Rockets. Utah is a sneaky contender for the Western Conference crown if Mike Conley can return to his Memphis form.

NBA.com

The Jazz have a worse point differential, both per game and per 100 possessions, than they did last season. But, after going 15-18 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes last season, they’re 21-10 this season. That’s the league’s biggest jump in clutch winning percentage.

Donovan Mitchell (32 more clutch field goal attempts than any of his teammates) has been the go-to guy down the stretch. But Rudy Gobert’s rim protection (or goaltending, if you will) has been critical and, with a ridiculous game-winner on Sunday, Bojan Bogdanovic (12) trails only Zach LaVine (15) in clutch 3-pointers.

Bogdanovic’s effective field goal percentage is down from his career-best mark of 57.5% last season, but he has scored 0.468 points per touch, the highest mark among 221 players that have averaged at least 30 touches per game. The Jazz have scored 13.3 more points per 100 possessions with Bogdanovic on the floor (114.6) than they have with him off the floor (101.3). They lead the league in both 3-point percentage (38.6%) and catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage (41.9%), with four of the 26 players who have shot 43% or better on at least 100 catch-and-shoot attempts.

Rotoworld

The Jazz was fading, losers of five straight games after falling to the Nuggets at home on Wednesday night. However, they beat the Blazers in a nail-biter on Friday (thanks in part to a generous no-call on a Rudy Gobert goaltend). Then, Sunday night in Houston, Utah was down two with less than two seconds left, before Bojan Bogdanovic buried a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer. Bogdanovic was just 1-of-6 from the floor at the moment he left that final shot fly.

SLC Dunk

If the bench keeps this up, Utah might have something here. After seeing the starters have to play their best on a nightly basis to make up for the holes the bench put them in, we’re starting to see the reserves be a net positive on the floor. In the current 3-game win streak, only Tony Bradley has had a game on the wrong side of +/-, a -4 in 4 minutes against Houston.

The biggest names will have to play their best come playoff time, but until then the back half of the rotation being positive will be huge for playoff positioning.