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NBA Power Rankings: Surging Lakers Move Up To No. 2

The Los Angeles Lakers are red hot right now, having won seven straight games, including their pasting of the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. The Spurs retain the top spot in the latest NBA power rankings on SB Nation, and rightfully so, but Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are right on their heels. The two-time defending champs moved up from fifth place last week to second.

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Defense has been the Lakers' calling card of late, as was the case during their title run last season. The Lakers last four opponents have all scored 87 points or less. The Lakers have slowed down the pace since the All-Star break, averaging 86.8 possessions per game (their pace on the season is 91.0 possessions per game). The key to the stellar defense has been Andrew Bynum, seen by Tom Ziller at SB Nation as a major cog in the Lakers' present, and future:

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The best-case scenario for the Lakers is that this run by Andrew Bynum is the real deal. That's what makes this a dynasty -- a rising star the caliber of Bynum transitioning the team past Kobe Bryant's run as a top-five player.

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In their seven-game winning streak, the Lakers have scored 1.13 points per possession while allowing just 1.00 points per possession. They have a tough road trip this week if they want to retain their lofty power ranking perch. After battling the struggling but still playoff-bound Hawks tonight, the Lakers travel to face Miami (No. 6 in the power rankings) and Dallas (No. 5).

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For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.