After a 2-2 week without Damian Lillard in which the Trail Blazers lost games to the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans -- followed up by wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings -- Portland remains fairly stable in a number of Week 9 NBA power rankings.
In four games last week, the Blazers shot 42 percent from the field (No. 26 in the league over that stretch), 29 percent from deep (No. 27), dished 21.8 assists per game (No. 18), averaged 15 turnovers (No. 20) and scored 97.3 points a night (No. 22). They did lead the league in rebounds per game over the last week, however, pulling in 52.3 per contest.
Portland was led last week by CJ McCollum's 23.3 points and 7.3 assists per contest, Mason Plumlee's 10.5 rebounds per game and 57.1 percent shooting from the floor and Meyers Leonard's 50 percent shooting from deep.
On to the power rankings:
Matt Moore of CBS Sports has the Blazers at No. 19 this week:
After a surprise thrashing of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Portland Trail Blazers hit the road to take on DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings
In Ball Don't Lie's "Most Interesting" Power Rankings, Eric Freeman lists Portland at No. 26:
Plenty of intelligent people, including our Kelly Dwyer, find this mostly bad team very enjoyable. They're not wrong — they have a top-10 offense, a legitimate star in Damian Lillard, and the kind of organizational cohesion that excites "values"-minded voters and college basketball fans. Hell, they even thrashed the Cavs this weekend. That's impressive!
They just flat-out don't do it for me. Those positives are very real, but I'm not one to flock to a mediocre team with relatively few weirdos. Or maybe I just like Mason Plumlee that little.
Jeremy Woo of SI.com ranks the Blazers No. 24 this week after a couple of solid, back-to-back wins:
Damian Lillard has missed four straight games, but Portland got big showings from Allen Crabbe (26 points against Cleveland) and C.J. McCollum (35–11–9 in Sacramento) to pull out back-to-back wins. If the supporting cast begins to coalesce, staying in the weird eight-seed mix is certainly possible.
The Washington Post's Tim Bontemps gives props to Blazers coach Terry Stotts and lists Portland at No. 19 this week:
Trail Blazers Coach Terry Stotts doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his ability on the sidelines, and particularly for his offensive wizardry; for proof, look no further than this year’s Portland team.
The Trail Blazers, sitting at 13-20 after they split four games last week, remain 1.5 games out of the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference, and just seven games ahead of the last place Los Angeles Lakers. Six teams -- the Kings, Blazers, Nuggets, Suns, Timberwolves and Pelicans -- are within three games of No. 8 seeded Utah.
-- Chris Lucia | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
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