Power Rankings: Lakers finally rise above the rest, claim No. 1 spot

5. Dallas Mavericks (3): A game-winner by Memphis’ Zach Randolph ended the Mavs’ eight-game winning streak on Sunday, however, a tough upcoming schedule of New Orleans (road), New York, the Lakers and Portland (road) will make every one of those eight wins important. If the Mavs come away with a 3-1 record, that’ll create a great deal of momentum for them, as they head into the final stretch of the season.

4. San Antonio Spurs (1): I don’t see any upcoming problems for this team, they just fall in the rankings because a beating is still a beating. They were down (at home) by as much as 32 to the Purple and Gold on Sunday morning. Nonetheless, they still have the best record in basketball and when the playoffs start, it’s going to be scary to see a fully fresh and ready to be used Tim Duncan.

3. Chicago Bulls (2): With Boston’s deficiencies in the paint and Miami’s consistent disappearing act in the fourth quarter’s of games, the road has been smoothly paved for Chicago to make an NBA Finals run. Joakim Noah is back in action, Rose is getting better with every game (it’s almost scary how good he’s getting) and the team’s chemistry continues to cement itself together even further. This is a complete team and I know I’ve been saying it since the beginning of the season, but, watch out for the Bulls – they’ll bite you.

2. Boston Celtics (5): Either Danny Ainge is a genius or the Kendrick Perkins deal is about to blow up in his face, as Shaquille O’Neal is out indefinitely. They don’t know when exactly he will be back, but the Celtics are going to need The Big Shamrock if they are going to want to contend with Chicago, Orlando and Miami – let alone the defending champs. At the same time, this could just be a ploy by the Celtics to get Shaq some much needed rest time before the playoffs – however, I highly doubt it.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (4): It’s taken some time, but a seven-game winning streak by Lakers finally shows why they are the reigning back-to-back champions. I hate to bring up would haves, could haves and should haves, but if the Lakers were to have beaten Charlotte and Cleveland prior to the all-star break and stopped Antonio McDyess from getting the game winning tip in when they played San Antonio, the Lakers would currently be only 1.5 games behind the Spurs for the best record in the league. Oh, the little things.

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