Lakers only fear the worst in Sacramento

The Lakers have nothing to fear but fear itself ... and maybe a rematch with the Kings.

Updated: February 22, 2003, 9:19 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

ESPN.com users sound off on senior writer Marc Stein's NBA Power Rankings from Feb. 18. Stein's comments to some of the best responses are also included.

Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Webber
Chris Webber's Kings feel they can stand up to Shaq's Lakers now.
You want to know what the sick thing is? The Spurs are this good WITHOUT Jason Kidd. Talk about a reversal of fortune. You have to think that, this year, the Lakers are scared to see the Spurs in the playoffs.
Ben Smith
Provo, Utah

STEIN: You had me until the word "fortune." The Lakers still hold a mental edge over every team in the West except for Sacramento, until those other teams play through it.

Let's see: Dallas 114, Detroit 75 on Nov. 9. Dallas 102, Detroit 82 on Nov. 27. I'm not saying Dallas should be No. 1, but ranked behind Detroit? Sheesh.
Marc Nivens
Dallas, Texas

STEIN: Got literally hundreds of these, Marc (nice spelling on your name, by the way). Yours, though, was kind enough to make my argument for me by including the dates of those Mavericks-Pistons games. They were both in November. What's Happening Now -- yes, one of the committee's favorite shows, although the original was obviously better -- has more bearing on the Power Rankings than what happened in November. Last week, the other top West teams didn't deserve higher placement based on their recent performance. But that was last week. Who knows what will happen Tuesday?

You're damn right you're going to hear it when you put the Jazz over the Wolves. Utah is 3-0 against Minnesota. The 40-year-olds still find a way to put the young guns to shame.
Chris Handy
Austin, Texas

STEIN: Sorry, Chris. I've just been more impressed with the Wolves this month. Of course, if the Jazz wins in Minny on Wednesday, I'll probably have to revise that position.

So what if the Jazz are one spot below the Wolves? I mean, how many of us out there thought the Jazz would even be in the top 10 this season? You know what would really blow everyone's mind? The Jazz making out of the first round of the playoffs.
Art Spring
Peoria, Ill.

STEIN: Good attitude.

When your rankings came out on Tuesday, the Celtics were 3-1 on their West Coast trip -- including a win at Portland. And they remained in the No. 11 spot. What gives? Can you provide me with an example of another Eastern Conference team that was ranked 11th or lower and won three out of four on a Western Conference road trip and then failed to move up in the rankings?
Erik Sprague
Boston, Mass.

STEIN: It's a decent case, Eric, but sometimes what happens with the teams around the team in question impacts the rankings as much as what happens on the court. You mentioned the Portland win, which was undoubtedly impressive, but Boston's conquests of floundering Seattle and the Clippers just weren't enough to get them in the top 10. In these rankings, upward mobility is tougher later in the season.

No chance at the playoffs, eh? Currently 8½ games back of the eighth-place Wizards, the Raptors will come back with an astonishing late-season run and make the playoffs.
Peter Mendelsohn
Toronto, Ontario

STEIN: If we weren't so desperate to find a comment that didn't involve a Mavericks-Pistons complaint, this preposterous bravado wouldn't have made it. C'mon, Peter.

If you mention that 8-2 start the Sonics had one more time, the committee might need to do some soul searching.
David Stein
Vancouver, Wash.

STEIN: Thursday's trade-deadline surprise mercifully gave us something to pull a line from. On Tuesday, you'll see. Nice last name, by the way.

This isn't a Rank Comment per se but I wanted to let you know the reasons those of us in Seattle are so loyal to Gary Payton. In regard to the constant turmoil in his career, there is a general belief that it is mostly orchestrated by Gary's agents and not by Gary himself. Payton is a guy who works hard all game, on offense and defense, and spends every off-season adding a new dimension to his game. Sadly, there aren't a whole lot of players you can honestly say that about. Most of all, he is the only superstar we've ever had in Seattle who wanted to be here. Randy Johnson wanted to leave. Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Shawn Kemp (in his prime) wanted to leave. Gary wanted to spend his entire career in Seattle. Regardless of how the trade works out for the Sonics, it's sad that Gary had to go.
Kris Ebbighausen
Seattle, Wash.

STEIN: Since we posed the question in Thursday's column about Seattle fans and their love affair with the Glove, and with the GP blockbuster dominating all NBA discussion, running this seemed like a fitting finale. Even if it's not a Rank Comment. Per se.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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