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Are the Lakers still the team to beat?

Updated: February 19, 2010, 3:18 PM ET
By John Ireland

Thursday turned out to be a long, strange day for the Lakers. First they watched several of their top competitors make trade deadline deals, while they stood pat. Then, playing without Kobe Bryant, they watched the Celtics put an end to L.A.'s four-game winning streak.

The fact that Boston won the game was no surprise. As I've written before, when the Celtics are healthy, I'm convinced they're the third-best team in the NBA. They're better than every team except the Lakers and Cleveland. ...

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