Caught in the Web: Lakers with a chance to surpass San Antonio in the Western Conference standings
--The Times' Mike Bresnahan looks at what the Lakers would need to do to secure first place in the Western Conference standings.
--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding explains that the Lakers clinching the Pacific Division would serve as the first tiebreaker over the Dallas Mavericks should they end with the same regular-season records. Head-to-head matchups would then be the second tiebreaker.
--The San Antonio Express-News' Buck Harvey reports Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess would've played Monday against Portland had it been the playoffs.
--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky previews the Lakers' upcoming week.
--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe picks the Lakers as the favorites to win the NBA title.
--The San Antonio Express-News' Mike Monroe details the Spurs' latest struggles.
--Fox Sports Southwest's Mike Piellucci believes the Spurs will turn out fine.
--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford breaks down the West standings.
--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell highlights Kobe Bryant's Western Conference player of the week award.
--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano offers various quick-hit thoughts on the Lakers.
Tweet of the Day: "Late thought of the night: If Lakers catch the Spurs for top record in NBA, is Kobe the MVP?" -- ramonashelburne (ESPN Los Angeles columnist Ramona Shelburne)
Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "That's one of the things that makes Kobe a champion...he doesnt focus on other teams, but on his game & his team. His attitude (and that of Phil) has trickled down to others on the team, which helps explain the horrific SPANKING they put on the Spurs in San Anton' earlier this month. If the Lakers play anywhere NEAR that level in the playoffs, home court edge will be irrelevant vs the Spurs, although chasing them down in the race for best record would most likely seal the deal. The genius of Phil Jackson (and Laker management) was clearly shown in the willingness to PAMPER Bynum during the fall & let him take his sweet time in returning to form. Drew had to suck it up & play through pain in last year's playoffs...this season he hasnt even had his knee drained yet, though that remains an option during the playoffs if necessary.
As a longtime Laker fan, it is especially gratifying (and not at all surprising) to see the aging Celtics circling the drain after Doc Rivers made such a big deal about getting home-court advantage. Even as the season started it sounded totally presumptuous of him to expect the AGING trio of Allen/Garnett/Pierce to have the best record AND still be fresh in May & June. The only reason Boston peaked in May & June last year was because they COASTED the second-half of the season, barely going .500 after the All-Star break.
The ill-advised Perkins trade has also badly hurt the team's chemistry, which is apparent to anyone who has watched them meltdown in the 4th-quarter of recent games vs the Pacers, Bobcats & Grizz. Even the Love-less T-Wolves erased a 25-point deficit & nearly beat the badly fading Celts. Add to that the fact that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was the architect of the Celt's lockdown defense that helped them win the 2008 title & Boston is dead-in-the-water. Even if they beat the chemistry-challenged Heat, the Celts will NOT beat the Bulls...Chicago & Miami are the FUTURE of the Eastern Conference & Boston is clearly the PAST. Lakers>Bulls in 6 games for the 3-PEAT." -- Verballistic
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Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest keeps Spurs guard Manu Ginobili at bay with a well-placed elbow during their game last month at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Tmes