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NBA power rankings roundup: Utah Jazz stick around top 5 in national rankings

Here’s where national publications slot the Jazz in power rankings this week.

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Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) celebrates a three point shot as the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Utah won 118-88

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

After losing five of eight games, the Utah Jazz got things back on track.

Following a loss to the Washington Wizards last Thursday, the Jazz have won three straight, beating Toronto, Chicago and a shorthanded Brooklyn team.

Strangely enough, the Jazz play the 21-20 Memphis Grizzlies in three of their next six games — including three of their next four — with games against 17-27 Cleveland, 19-24 Chicago and 15-29 Orlando, so the schedule is set up for Utah to go on another lengthy win streak.

Here’s where national publications slot the Jazz in power rankings this week:

ESPN — No. 2 (Last week No. 1)

What they said about the Jazz:

Since Utah’s 24-5 start, the Jazz are 6-6 and rank 21st in defensive efficiency during that span (113.9 points allowed per 100 possessions). We need to understand that we haven’t accomplished (expletive) , Rudy Gobert said Thursday after a loss to the Wizards. We get upset when people laugh at us on TV and disrespect us. It’s on us to respect ourselves. We’re not the champions. We’re not a team that can just cruise and turn it on come playoff time. We have to stay hungry. — Tim MacMahon

NBA.com — No. 5 (Last week No. 4)

What they said about the Jazz:

The Jazz have lost the first quarter in four straight games, scoring just 85 points on 101 first-quarter possessions (with Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson shooting a combined 8 for 44) over that stretch. In Washington on Thursday, things got worse after that and the Wizards had their most efficient game in more than a month. The Jazz rank 26th defensively over the last 31⁄2 weeks, with their opponents having seen a bigger jump in their field goal percentage in the paint (from 52% through their first 32 games to 60% over their last nine) than they have in their effective field goal percentage from outside the paint (48% to 52%). The offense, despite the recent first-quarter struggles, has remained pretty steady. And the Jazz’s biggest stretch of the last week was the first 31⁄2 minutes of the fourth quarter in Boston on Tuesday, when they scored 15 points on six possessions to turn a two-point deficit into a nine-point lead. Rudy Gobert played a big role in all six possessions, scoring seven of the 15 points himself, creating two more with an offensive rebound, and creating the the other six (weak-side 3-pointers) with his roll-man gravity. The Jazz’s 34-point loss in Brooklyn on Jan. 5 was the last time their offense was held under a point per possession. They’ll have a chance for revenge on Wednesday, though this is a very different version of the Nets that they’ll be facing. — John Schuhmann

Sports Illustrated — No. 2 (Last week No. 2)

What they said about the Jazz:

Not enough attention is being paid to Rudy Gobert’s dominant stretch of late. Utah’s star center averaged 15.3 points, 14.2 rebounds and three blocks per game in his last 13 contests, including a 24-point, 28-rebound effort against the Warriors on March 14. Gobert continued to shine on Monday night. He tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds in a blowout win over the Bulls, swatting nine shots in the process. Gobert is the Defensive Player of the Year co-favorite alongside Ben Simmons. He’s a likely All-NBA selection. Utah’s big man deserves any and all recognition sent his way amid a truly dominant center season. — Michael Shapiro

CBS Sports — No. 2 (Last week No. 2)

What they said about the Jazz:

Giving up 43 points to Bradley Beal and 35 to Russell Westbrook in a bad loss to the Wizards couldn’t have felt great, but the Jazz also picked up wins over the Celtics and Raptors this week. Utah’s gone 5-5 in its last 10 games, but a stretch like this had to be somewhat expected after the way they set the league on fire for most of the first half. Donovan Mitchell averaged 31.3 points in the three games, but struggled from 3-point range. Joe Ingles went off for 34 points and eight 3s, both career highs, in the loss to Washington. — Colin Ward-Henninger

NBC Sports — No. 5 (Last week No. 6)

What they said about the Jazz:

Utah has not looked dominant the past few weeks, at least compared to how they did earlier in the season. The biggest difference in those early games and the recent one is defense — the Jazz are 16th in the league defensively over their last six games. Some big nights from Donovan Mitchell helped cover things up, but the concern is real. There has been very little trade buzz around Utah, but this is a tight-lipped organization where leaks are rare anyway. — Kurt Helin