Power Rankings: Lakers, Cavs finish 1-2

Updated: August 5, 2009, 8:38 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

It was a tougher call, honestly, than deciding whom to put atop our MVP ballot. Far tougher. These, though, are precisely the sort of complex rulings that the committee (of one) was commissioned to make.

So ...

The Los Angeles Lakers -- on the season's 26th and final Monday for our human, subjective and thoroughly nonautomated check of the league's team-by-team pulse -- claim the No. 1 spot in the farewell edition of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings, narrowly holding off the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Lakers did so in spite of Cleveland's impressive home trouncing of No. 3 Boston on Sunday, swaying us with its vastly superior record against the rest of the top 10 -- no one else comes close to L.A.'s 21-7 mark there -- and its regular-season sweep of the Cavs. Also boosting L.A.'s case: Andrew Bynum's return at a time so many big names are hobbling, as well as the likelihood that the Cavs face a far tougher path to the NBA Finals.

You can click here to rank the teams yourself and click here to comment.

Also, check out John Hollinger's daily NBA Power Rankings.

Tune in Tuesdays to "NBA Fastbreak" on ESPN to see this week's U.S. Army Power Rankings. The Blazers are the U.S. Army Team of the Week after a 4-0 run that includes a road win in San Antonio and another home defeat of the Lakers to take the race for first place in the Northwest Division all the way to the buzzer.

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