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Posted by Rob Peterson on March 29 2004 2:30 p.m. ET

NIGHT-TIME SOAPS

Lakers fans, of which there are many, will love me. Lakers haters, of which there are many more, will hate me.

But I'll say it, because as of today, I believe it may be true: It looks as if the Lakers are primed. They have their Fab Four back on the floor. They've won nine of their last 10 and eight in a row. This streak has moved the Lakers so close to the Kings -- two games in the Pacific -- that the Lakers are fogging up Sacramento's rearview mirror.

And thanks to the Grammys and the All-Star Game kicking them out of STAPLES for nearly a month spanning from the middle of January to the middle of February, the Lakers have an easy schedule with six games at home and three on the road.

Still, the Lakers have moments where they seem to coast against certain teams. One columnist thought this about the Lakers' win over Utah on Sunday.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

"With the Lakers, it's hard to tell if the blinding white light is a flash of brilliance or the lightning of an approaching storm," wrote J.A Adande.

With the Lakers it isn't just about how well they play, it's about the junk happening around them. They've been more of a sideshow at times than Showtime.
-- Detroit News, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

And, just in case you had questions, No. 8 isn't headed for New York, according to this report.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

It also appears that the Mailman could be hanging up his mailbag at the end of this season.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Again, as one writer notes: Persevering ain't easy.
--L.A. Daily News

But most of this is window dressing compared to what's happening 358 miles to the north in Sacramento. The West-leading Kings have stumbled since Chris Webber's return and the ARCO faithful have lost faith in C-Webb. They've begun booing him and C-Webb has started to think about the future without Sacramento. One report has him asking for a trade in the offseason if this treatment continues.
-- Sacramento Bee

As Kings coach Rick Adelman notes, incorporating Webber back into the lineup hasn't been a piece of cake.
-- Washington Times

And C-Webb is still trying to find his rhythm.
-- San Francisco Chronicle

Maybe, one writer asks, it's time to bring C-Webb along more slowly.
-- Sacramento Bee

Still, the fans' patience has waned. -- Contra Costa Times

And this is why.
-- San Antonio Express-News

Still, the Kings fans showed C-Webb some love on Sunday before the Kings beat the Wizards. But, one writer believes the Kings have numerous issues.
-- Sacramento Bee

What do I think? I think the Kings miss Bobby Jackson more than we imagine.

HOT, HOT, HEAT

While the Lakers and the Kings may be the cream of the NBA crop, the team playing some of the best ball in the league makes its home in South Florida.

That's right, the Miami Heat. Left at the season's alter by long-time head coach Pat Riley, the Heat started the season with a decidedly chilly 0-7 record. But if you look at the standings through Sunday, March 28, the Heat are sixth in the East, one game behind the stumbling Bucks.

But if the Heat want to challenge for home-court advantage in the first round (they're only two games behind fourth-seeded New Orleans), they'll need to be stellar away from home.
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Heat could be the "feel-good story" in the East.
-- New York Times

All of which places Stan (not Jeff) Van Gundy in the thick of the Coach of the Year race.
-- Miami Herald

Meanwhile, winning has put fannies back in the seats. Who woulda thunk it?
-- Palm Beach Post

VAGABOND COACHES

I don't usually comment on coaching rumors, so I'll let the pros do it. Rocky Mountain News: Rumors put Karl in Nuggets mix

Chicago Tribune: For NBA coaches, it's firing time again

BOSS' LINK O' THE WEEK

My boss thinks this stat has tremendous upside.
-- Newark Star-Ledger

Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown spoke with reporters in New York as the Grizzlies made their one trip to Madison Square Garden for the season.

Newark Star-Ledger scribe Dave D'Alessandro noted that Hubie held court with the press, "...for 34 minutes. In those 34 minutes, only five questions were asked."

Congrats to coach Brown and the Grizzlies for making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Knowing where this franchise was before last season and where it is now, that's quite an accomplishment.
-- Memphis Commerical Appeal

MAIL CALL

It was a busy week and I will be busy again this week. I will get to the three-foul shots question in next week's Click and Roll.

TIP-INS

While Orlando's having a season to forget, Tracy McGrady is building a career to remember. According to one columnist, he's a "Legend in the Making."
-- Orlando Sentinel (Registration required)

Worst! Closing line! Ever!
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Stephen Jackson plays for the Hawks. Don't cry for him, Argentina. Make that Venezuela. He's been in worse situations: "I was in Venezuela at age 18," Jackson said, "couldn't speak Spanish, no mama, nobody. Just by myself. I was going to make the best of it.''
-- Chicago Sun-Times

A season like the Bulls' can put even the most jaded vet in a somber mood. Imagine what it can do to a rookie.
-- Daily Herald

Finally, nothing strikes fear into a GM's heart more than a challenge from a sportswriter.
-- N.Y. Post

Bryant has the Lakers on the move.
(Catherine Steenkeste
NBAE/Getty Images)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
March 22 -- East Bests West?
March 15 -- Very Scary Bears
March 8 -- Sick and Tired
March 1 -- West Side Story
Feb. 24 -- Surfing the Nets
Feb. 17 -- City of Angles
Feb. 13-15 -- All-Star Blog
Feb. 9 -- Git Up, Git Out
Feb. 2 -- Lobbying for L.A.
Jan. 26 -- Midwest is Best
Jan. 19 -- More Central
Jan. 12 -- Grand Central
Jan. 8 -- Starbury Time
Dec. 29 -- American Rookies
Dec. 22 -- The Greatest Gift
Dec. 15 -- Hail the Kings
Dec. 8 -- Spurs Sportsmen
Dec. 1 -- Holiday Exchange
Nov. 24 -- Hive Talkin'
Nov. 17 -- Clip and Save
Nov. 10 -- Short People

BACKCOURT

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
March 30: Cavs at Mavs, because it rhymes (NBALP, 8:30 ET)
March 31: Kings at Spurs; offense vs. defense (NBA TV, 8:30 ET)
March 31: New Orleans at Utah, jazzy (NBALP, 9 ET)
April 1: Rockets at Lakers. Yes, you'd be a fool not to watch (TNT, 10:30)

THE NUMBER
19, 41 -- LeBron James' age and the number of points he scored in a 107-104 Cleveland win over New Jersey on Saturday. James is the youngest player ever to drop 40 in an NBA game.

WEEKLY KERR
My boss likes Steve Kerr's Yahoo! column. I like my job. Here's this week's link to Steve's piece on ... the Spurs? Steve's writing about his old team. Nice work if you can get it. ;-)

'ROUND THE GLOBE
Want to know how hoop is being played around this little blue marble?

Wang Zhizhi, the first Chinese player to play in the NBA, is looking to re-establish his relationship with the Chinese National team.
-- Fort Worth Star-Telegram

PLAYOFF ROSTER
Congratulations to Minnesota, the Lakers, New Jersey, San Antonio and Memphis all of whom clinched spots in the 2004 NBA Playoffs. Now, it's eight spots filled, eight to go.

Date clinched -- Team
March 5 -- Indiana
March 17 -- Sacramento
March 18 -- Detroit
March 21 -- Minnesota
March 23 -- L.A. Lakers
March 25 -- New Jersey
March 26 -- San Antonio
March 28 -- Memphis