The Portland Trail Blazers rose across the board in the various NBA Power Rankings thanks to an 3-1 Week 3 (through Monday, when most power rankings go live). Last week, the Blazers finished anywhere between 18 and 25. This week, the Blazers ranked as high as No. 14.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com ranks the Blazers No. 17 (up from 20).
We break from our usual fixation in this space with either LaMarcus Aldridge or Damian Lillard to share, via Elias, that Nic Batum became only the third player in NBA history to total 30-plus points with five 3s as well as five blocks in that OT win over Houston. He joins Clifford Robinson and Raef LaFrentz.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com ranks the Blazers No. 16 (up from No. 21).
The Blazers have won three straight and, more important, their defense has been improved, especially if you overlook Friday's 119-117, OT win over the Rockets. They held their other three opponents under a point per possession last week. On the other end, Nicolas Batum has been on fire, shooting 56 percent overall and 20-for-41 from 3-point range over the last five games.
Matt Dollinger of SI.com ranks the Blazers No. 22 (down from 18). Note: this one was posted last Friday.
The Blazers will go as far as rookie standout Damian Lillard can take them. In Portland's three wins, he's averaging 21.7 points and 9.7 assists while shooting 52.4 percent. In five losses, he's averaging just 16.4 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 38 percent. Nevertheless, the Weber State product continues to be the best rookie in the league, leading his class points (18.4), assists (6.6) and minutes (37.6). Much of his success is due to his ahead-of-schedule pick-and-roll repertoire, as detailed by our own Lee Jenkins. But Lillard will have to put just as much emphasis on the defensive end to keep Portland above .500. The Blazers rank 29th in field-goal defense at 49.4 percent.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk ranks the Blazers No. 20 (up from No. 22).
They are the winners of three straight now and part of that is some monster numbers from Nicolas Batum - he had 35 in the overtime win over Houston, then 21 against the Bulls. This is the Batum they need.
Seth Rosenthal of SB Nation ranks the Blazers No. 14 (up from No. 19).
They're on a nice three-game win streak, and Ronnie Price's tidy little 20 minutes in Sunday's solid win over the Bulls qualifies for a bench explosion for these Blazers.
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