Lakers have real challengers in West

PER Diem: Jan. 12, 2010

Updated: January 12, 2010, 7:10 PM ET
By John Hollinger |
LakersNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesMany expect the Lakers to be the last team standing in the West ... except, perhaps, the teams below.

In some ways, it's business as usual in the Western Conference. Just like last season, the Lakers stand several games ahead of the pack. They've had their share of struggles, sure, but as things stand today, it's hard to find a single breathing soul who expects any team besides L.A. to represent the West in the NBA Finals.