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Power ranking roundup: Utah Jazz still top most national lists, but Brooklyn is on their heels

The Utah Jazz remain the best in the NBA after a blowout win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s what the national media says about them.

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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) congratulates teammate Jordan Clarkson during a 2021 game.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) congratulates teammate Jordan Clarkson (00) after Clarkson scores a 3-pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Most national power rankings are putting the Jazz at the top this week, but most rankings have the Brooklyn Nets as a close second.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

After Wednesday’s impressive blowout win against the Los Angeles Lakers — sans Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, but a great win nonetheless — the Utah Jazz are still the best in the NBA. The Jazz hold the best record in the association at 26-6, moving 3.5 games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference.

Most national power rankings are sticking with the Jazz at the top this week, but most of the rankings have the Brooklyn Nets — winners of their last seven games — as a close second to Utah, with one publication vaulting Brooklyn over Utah.

Here’s how the national media ranks the Jazz:

ESPN — No. 1

What they said about the Jazz:

The Jazz, who have played a league-low 20 clutch minutes this season, considered their loss to the Clippers a valuable learning experience. ‘Their abilities to cause problems both offensively and defensively throughout games are what we’re going to have to compete against and have to beat to get to our ultimate goal,’ said Mike Conley, who returned after missing six games due to hamstring tightness. ‘For us to play the game that we did tonight, and be able to finish the way we did and execute down the stretch against a great team like this, I think it’s a great lesson.’ — Tim MacMahon

NBA.com — No. 1

What they said about the Jazz:

The Jazz survived some slow starts over the last three games of their nine-game winning streak (the second longest streak in the league this season), overcoming deficits against the Heat, Sixers (Philly’s first loss after leading by double-digits) and shorthanded Clippers. They erased a 15-point deficit against the #fullsquad Clippers on Friday, but they had matchup issues down the stretch as LA scored 10 points on four possessions to gain separation. The Clippers attacked Derrick Favors on two straight possessions and then went at Bojan Bogdanovic. On the other end of the floor, they were able to stifle ball movement and limit the Jazz to a season-low 13 assists and just 15 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts, down from an average of 26.5 prior to that.

That was just the seventh Jazz game in this 20-2 stretch that has been within five points in the last five minutes, though they’ve led 14 of the 22 (and 17 of their 30 games overall) by 20 points or more. They rank second both offensively and defensively over those six and a half weeks.

The Jazz still haven’t lost at home since December, and they’ll host the champs (their first meeting of the season) at Vivint Arena on Wednesday. — John Schuhmann

Sports Illustrated — No. 1

What they said about the Jazz:

Utah just keeps humming along, winning 21 of its last 23 as it grows its lead over the rest of the Western Conference. The Jazz blitzed Charlotte from deep on Monday night, draining 28 threes in a 132–110 win over the Hornets. Utah’s three-headed monster in the backcourt is thriving. Rudy Gobert remains an All-NBA force. The Jazz were written off as a title contender entering 2020–21 after their bubble disappointment and superstar spat. Their growth and subsequent dominance are a testament to the program built by Quin Snyder in recent years. — Michael Shapiro

CBS Sports — No. 1

What they said about the Jazz:

Utah emerged with a 2-1 record against two of the league’s best teams this week, beating the 76ers before splitting with the Clippers. The win over the Clippers came with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the sideline, and both were back for Friday’s rematch. Even in the loss, Donovan Mitchell’s heroic effort made things interesting down the stretch. Another silver lining is that Mike Conley returned for that game, scoring 16 points in 25 minutes following a six-game absence. Despite the loss, the Jazz have still won 20 of 22 games and occupy first place in the West. — Colin Ward-Henninger

NBC Sports — No. 2

What they said about the Jazz:

While the West is deep with talent, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were locks to make the All-Star team as reserves. Mike Conley is deserving as well, but he just missed the cut. Again. The loss to the full-strength Clippers Friday highlighted what the Jazz need to work on for the postseason: L.A. attacked Derrick Favors and Bojan Bogdanovic in isolations, and the Clipper defense stymied the Jazz ball movement that gets them so many points. The offense cannot stall like that. — Kurt Helin