Extra MustardSI On CampusFantasyPhoto GalleriesSwimsuitVideoFanNationSI KidsTNT

It's an L.A. story

Lakers ride good vibes to No. 1 spot; Jazz get in tune

Posted: Monday February 4, 2008 10:21AM; Updated: Monday February 4, 2008 5:41PM
Free E-mail AlertsE-mail ThisPrint ThisSave ThisMost PopularRSS Aggregators

They said it couldn't be done. No, not the Giants upsetting the Patriots in the Super Bowl. We're talking about the Lakers making Kobe Bryant happy.

Well, Bryant is smiling now. L.A.'s acquisition of Pau Gasol in a trade with the Grizzlies was a coup. Suddenly, Bryant and the Lakers are a prime contender in a Western Conference race that looks to be as wide open as Giants receiver Plaxico Burress on that last-minute TD pass from Eli Manning.

With L.A.'s spirits soaring (and many of the NBA's other top teams stumbling this past week), we'll go along with the fun and vault the Lakers to No. 1 in this week's rankings. But fans of the Celtics, Suns, Hornets and all the other current elite need not fret. As the Super Bowl proved, the top spot can change in a New York minute.

This week's high riser: Lakers (No. 1 from 13)
This week's big drop: Mavs (No. 11 from 3)

NBA Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 13 How geeked is Kobe over the Gasol acquisition? He outscored the Wizards all by himself 19-15 in the first quarter en route to an easy victory Sunday. Meanwhile, the Lakers' new 7-foot star could make his debut Tuesday at New Jersey.
2 2 OK, Kevin Garnett, it's up to you and your team to restore New England pride. But, first, take care of your own personal Super Bowl with a victory in Friday's return to Minnesota.
3 4 With a 14-5 record since Dec. 26, there is reason for optimism in the desert. But two losses to the Spurs last week (once on the court and once in the Damon Stoudamire sweepstakes) show that their rivals still have their number.
4 1 Losses to the Warriors and Kings have brought them back to earth after a nine-game winning streak. At least coach Byron Scott and forward David West will join Chris Paul as hometown Hornets in the All-Star Game.
5 10 The NBA's hottest team had won eight straight (and 12 of 13 overall) heading into Monday's big home showdown with the Hornets. Gee, think Deron Williams won't be fired up for his matchup against Paul?
6 8 Three reasons they're stoked in the Bay Area: 1) Chris Webber gives them new blood; 2) Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson are ticked about their All-Star snubs; 3) last Friday they began a stretch of 10 of 11 at Oracle Arena.
7 7 Super Bowl, Schmuper Bowl. An estimated 200 million in China watched Saturday's matchup between Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, won by the Rockets 91-83. It was Houston's third straight victory and seventh in eight games.
8 9 Guess their veteran core has decided to get serious again. They held the Mavs to 67 points Sunday to make it five straight wins, including last week's victories against the Magic and Lakers.
9 5 No, they're not taking a dive here because of that loss last week at Seattle without LeBron James (ankle). They lose a few spots because without Anderson Varejao (ankle, out three weeks), their defense just doesn't look nearly as formidable.
10 12 Here they go again. Led by Hedo Turkoglu, the always streaky Magic entered the week having won four straight and seven of eight. Now they begin a five-game homestand, starting Monday against the Mavs.

1 of 3