Phoenix Suns’ NBA power rankings fit for a contender

In the wake of the Phoenix Suns’ three-point victory over the Houston Rockets, it’s clear there are no gimmes in the remainder of the schedule.

The various authors of national rankings, however, are still believers in the Suns, largely because all NBA teams fight the occasional off nights.

Brooklyn narrowly escaped the New York Knicks on Monday night and, though it wasn’t a massive upset, the Jazz fell to Dallas.

Anything can happen.

The Phoenix Suns showed up strongly again this week among the major NBA power rankings.

Ahead by four games in the loss column entering Tuesday night’s action, the Suns appear headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2010 — and toward juicy matchups with West rivals.

ESPN’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 4

The Suns stayed at No. 4 in this version of ESPN’s top teams.

As they began this week with the win at Houston, the Suns may have been looking ahead to a home matchup with the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz.

But they have firm command as the current No. 2 team, says ESPN.

As Phoenix strengthened its grip on the second seed in the Western Conference, Devin Booker started to heat up last week, and the Suns pushed their win streak to five. In Wednesday’s game against the Bulls, Booker had a season-high 45 points — the most he has scored since putting up 48 on March 30, 2019. Booker followed that up with 32 points in the next game, against the Hawks on Friday. It marked just the second time this season he’s had back-to-back games with at least 32 points; he had 34 and 33 points on Feb. 22 and 24, respectively.

Booker, along with Chris Paul, helped bail out the Suns on Monday, too.

NBA.com’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 2

The Phoenix Suns did something right last week, jarring NBA.com into action and moving up four spots on the power rankings list.

Jae Crowder has been among the leading factors for the Suns.

Crowder has started the last 11 games and the lineup has turned things around, outscoring its opponents by 19.7 points per 100 possessions (allowing just a point per possession) over the last nine.

The Suns are 26-6 over the last 9 1/2 weeks, with four of the six losses having come by four points or fewer. They’ve had some narrow wins over the last 10 days, doing a better job of getting stops down the stretch. Deandre Ayton has been burned off the dribble quite a bit, but he stayed with Trae Young on a critical possession on Tuesday.

Wednesday, the Suns begin a back-to-back with Utah at home followed by a game Thursday at the Clippers.

CBS Sports’ NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 3

The Phoenix Suns moved back ahead of the Clippers without doing anything other than taking down the Hawks, Bulls and Thunder.

At the trade deadline, the Denver Nuggets added a couple of key pieces, but the Suns were content with the acquisition of Torrey Craig.

Devin Booker continued to scorch the nets, averaging 32.7 points on 41 percent 3-point shooting this week, and Dario Saric stepped up with 15.7 points per game on 54 percent 3-point shooting in just 18.5 minutes per game. The Suns don’t get a lot of headlines, but they’re quietly going about their business and winning a lot of games.

Booker’s quick first-quarter starts have consistently kept his team in good shape.

Bleacher Report’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 3

BR has the Nuggets moving up, and Denver could be the most prominent danger for Phoenix’s top-two hopes.

That said, there isn’t much sign of an imminent drop-off.

There is not too much that can be said about the Suns. They just continue to take care of business. Very quietly, Phoenix has gone on a five-game winning streak, including a 140-point outburst against the Thunder.

During the latest streak, Devin Booker is dropping 29.8 points with 50.5/39.4/94.1 shooting splits. Chris Paul is averaging 8.6 assists. Deandre Ayton is just shy of averaging a double-double with 13.0 points and 9.6 rebounds. Add Dario Saric’s play off the bench and the Suns are rolling along.

For the streaking Phoenix Suns, last week was great, highlighted by the 140-point outburst against overmatched OKC, but the Suns have two stern tests this week.

And those games against the Jazz and Clippers could go a long way toward securing home court in the first round of the playoffs.